PARTS of Ireland were just fractions away yesterday from smashing records for the warmest March day ever recorded.
Belmullet in Co Mayo sizzled at 22.2C, the warmest it's been there on this date since 1965.
But the balmy daytime high fell about one degree short of the all-time March high of 23.6C recorded at Trinity College Dublin on March 28, 1965.
But few people were complaining yesterday as temperatures hovered around 20C in many parts of the south and midlands.
Dublin -- which was slightly cooler due to the proximity of the sea and an early fog -- was awash with people flocking to the seaside and parks to soak up the rays as temperatures hit a high of 17.5C around 4pm.
"It was nearly completely cloudless with just a few wisps," said Met Eireann forecaster Sandra Spillane.
And it's going to last until at least tomorrow, she said.
A ridge of high pressure that swept in from the continent late last week is due to stick around until Thursday evening, she said.
And even as it eventually weakens as it tracks out to the Atlantic, we can still expect dry weather and double-digit figures for the rest of the week and weekend, although with the occasional drizzly patch, she said.
Today will see generally clear conditions with hazy sunshine and highs between 15C and 19C.
Thursday will be a virtual repeat of Wednesday with temperatures roughly the same.
"But it will start to feel a bit cooler with a change of wind direction as the high pressure system moves out to the Atlantic," she said.
Conditions will return to more seasonal temperatures by Friday when it cools down to between 10C and 17C although it should remain clear with the occasional drizzly patch, she added.
The weekend will stay mainly dry with occasional clouds and possible rain, she said.
Meanwhile, farmer Tommy Moynihan was making hay while the sun shone.
The 45-year-old farmer from Tralee, Co Kerry, has been cutting sileage since the age of 14 but has never done it this early in the season.
"I've never seen the field as dry as it was today," he said. "Last year I cut on April 14. This was a record today."
And while the unexpected run of sultry weather has led to an early start to the beach and barbeque season, the employers group IBEC is warning workers of the perils of "pulling a sickie" in order to soak up the sunshine.
Not only does it look highly suspicious when a "sick" worker shows up the next day with a suntan, malingering in order to get a day off costs all of us, according to IBEC's survey on absenteeism published last August.
The survey found that Ireland lost 11 million days to worker absenteeism last year, valued at €1.5bn or €818 in lost productivity and other costs for each employee.