Grocers have also brought in more meat, fruit juices and bottled water to meet demand.
But it was the UK and the Continental mainland that suffered the highest temperatures, with Paris recording over 50 deaths from heat exhaustion and England recording the highest temperature there since records started – 38.1 Celsius or 100.6 Fahrenheit last Sunday. Temperatures as high as 46 Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit) hit Spain and Portugal where brush fires raged out of control.
Emergency rooms in Ireland reported an increase in people seeking treatment for sunburn and heatstroke and warned that the public should be cautious of the glorious weather.
And the Irish Times took the warm weather as an opportunity to warn readers that the high temperatures may “herald a darker future” of environmental catastrophe and urged that the “immediate priority should be to secure and implement the Kyoto protocol, which is designed to deal with global warming.”
Up North, Green Party officials also warned against enjoying the heat. Northern Ireland’s Green Party leader John Barry described the current heat wave over Europe as “yet another warning sign of the havoc humankind is wreaking on the world’s weather.”
He repeated a leading climatologist’s warning that climate change was “a weapon of mass destruction” and said: “As temperatures approach record-breaking levels, more and more evidence is mounting that human-made pollution is destabilizing the world’s climate.”
But thousands flocked to beaches and parks in Ireland, determined to enjoy what is all-too-often rare in Irish weather — cloudless skies.
Not everyone expected to benefit did so: the Guinness Mitchelstown festival in County Cork failed to attract enough people to cover costs.
“The festival just didn’t pay,” coordinator Martin Lane conceded. “It’s back to the drawing board and possibly a reduction in the number of free shows.”
Economists noted that worker productivity falls 8 percent when temperatures edge over 80 degrees. Few European countries, including Ireland, have widespread use of air-conditioning because temperatures rarely reach the highs recorded last week.
Tourism chiefs confirmed higher visitor levels than before, both north and south.
Louise Mullan, information officer at Coleraine Tourist Office in County Derry, said it was an “encouraging picture.”
She added: “We are now into our peak season and there have been a lot of foreign visitors to the area. Although we do not have the final statistics, numbers seem to be up on last year.”
At Tuesday’s sitting of Derry’s Magistrate’s Court, Resident Magistrate Barney McElholm dispensed with court room protocol, informing all attending solicitors that they could take their jackets off to help combat the stifling heat.
Met Eireann, the Irish meteorological service (www.met.ie), recorded cooler temperatures in the last two days but a spokesperson said that August looked set to be balmy all the way through. Just what the doctor ordered, most Irish say, but medical experts are telling the public to stay in the shade and drink more — but only if it’s water.