Families and couples soaked up the sun on Garrylucas beach in Cork on Monday, warming up for the heatwave due to hit later this week.
Temperatures are set to rise to 25C thanks to a high-pressure band arriving from the Azores.
“There’s nowhere better than Ireland when you get the weather,” Kathryn Flint said.
The Flint family were visiting Kinsale from Navan. They travelled down in a campervan rented from Craic N Campers in Roscommon.
“It’s our first time in a campervan,” Kathryn said.
“It’s been great. Usually, we’d holiday abroad, in Spain or Portugal.
“All the food and drink has been so nice. Sometimes, when you’re abroad, the food is disappointing, but Kinsale is renowned for food."
The family is ‘wild camping’ in Kinsale because all the campsites were already booked up months ago. But they’ll stay in campsites for the rest of the holiday through west Cork.
Agnieska Mozolwska said that every day in Ireland feels like a holiday.
“I’ve been to a lot of countries but I think Ireland is the prettiest country in Europe.
“Especially around Kinsale, Kinsale town is so pretty, the Old Head is beautiful, the beaches are lovely. There’s so much to do here."
“I come here [to Garrylucas] every day, even through the winter and when it’s raining,” she said.
Originally from Poland, she said not being able to visit her elderly, ailing mother back home has been difficult but technology has allowed her to stay in touch.
“Thank God for technology. If this happened 20 years ago it would have been really difficult. But with phones and the internet I can talk to my mummy every day, even twice a day.”
Lifeguards patrolled one part of the Blue Flag beach while surf lessons were held at another section.
Children ran around in swimsuits dragging bodyboards while adults sunbathed or sat in dry robes by the shore.
One man smiled broadly, peering up from his beach towel as he said that he could not be photographed because he was supposed to be at work.
Although there is a public toilet block with wheelchair access by the beach, a new, state-of-the-art shower and toilet facility is planned with secure storage, changing rooms and equipment wash down areas.
Maxine Acton was at the beach with Daniel Carey and sons Bobby and Elliot.
They live in nearby Sandycove but often bring their campervan to Garylucas, their favourite beach.
Since February, there’s been a steady stream of people coming to Sandycove and the Kinsale area, she said.
“It’s been nice, we’re not inundated."
“This beach is our favourite, it’s very safe and we can park the campervan right by the beach so the boys can get down without having to cross the road.”
She said people have complained in the press about fleets of campervans parked up at Garrylucas and Garretstown beaches but because campsites have been overstretched throughout the pandemic with the boom in staycationing, people have had nowhere else to park.
“It’s important to look at what new infrastructure we need but we have to be careful not to overdevelop rural places to meet the demand that’s there now because that demand will probably drop off again," she said.
“Where we live in Sandycove, the council brought in portaloos and bins this year which I think was a really good way of providing temporary facilities while people need them there.
“I think there will be a hangover after the pandemic, with more people continuing to go sea swimming or do watersports, but these things always go in fads of popularity.”
Bridie and John Casey were down on a day trip from Ballyphehane in Cork City.
John spent his summers in Crosshaven as a child so he is used to the concept of staycations.
“It’s fabulous down here,” Bridie said. “The beach and everything is perfect.”
John said: “There’s a heatwave coming on Wednesday, we’ll probably come back here and go to Fountainstown [beach] for most of the week.”
“We love the sun,” Bridie said. “We don’t go away foreign anymore but we don’t miss it.”
Maura O’Callaghan from Ballygarven, Co Cork, was at the beach with her sons Daniel, 10, Billy, 8 and Jack, 5.
She and her husband bought a caravan after the pandemic hit last year and keep it at Lordan’s Campsite by the beach.
“My husband wanted a caravan for years,” Maura said. “So last year we decided to buy one. It’s been great. We live about 20 minutes away so my husband was able to leave from here to go back to work this morning and it’s easy to come down at weekends.
“It’s great for the boys to be on the campsite and have so many other kids to play with.
“We’ll probably keep a caravan after the pandemic but we might get an upgrade next year,” Maura said.
“It’s opened my eyes to the beauty of Ireland.”
Jane and Brian Kelly were visiting Cork for the first time, having travelled down from Drogheda with their two children, Teddy and Billy, and a group of 17.
“The pandemic forces you to change your thinking and look for new ideas and new places,” Brian said.
“Usually, we’d go abroad for a week or two."
“It’s a stunning part of the world. We’ll definitely come back again,” Jane said.