A year on from the blizzards of Christmas 2010, Ireland basked in near Mediterranean warmth on the big day.
Santa was seen scratching his head in amazement as temperatures witnessed a plus 20 degree turnaround year on year in some places.
A weather station near Fermoy in Cork recorded the country’s highest temperature of the day at 14.4 degrees Celsius almost 60 fahrenheit, warmer than Corfu in Greece and Sardinia in Italy where it was a mere 13 degrees Celsius.
Traditional Christmas Day swims in the Irish Sea were a breeze for the battle hardened regulars with the Irish Independent newspaper suggesting cocktails would have been more appropriate than hot whiskeys for those who braved the waters.
Met Eireann forecaster Klare Finkele told the paper that this Christmas Day was definitely one of the warmest ever.
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“My colleagues were saying that 2002 was warmer but we haven’t been able to properly check yet,” said Finkele.
“It is definitely one of the warmest, although 1988 and 1974 were also quite warm.”
Temperatures in 2002 hit a high of 14.6 degrees, while the mercury rose to 13.6 in 1988 and 13.9 in 1974.
Finkele and her colleagues are to consult records going back to 1851 before making a final judgement on the 2011 temperatures as the white Christmas of a year ago faded into the memory banks all across Ireland.
Winds were up and rain did arrive in the North and West but few complained.
Jonathan Powell, a senior forecaster with Positive Weather Solutions, told the Independent that this winter has been ‘unusually mild’.
Powell added: “With these unusually mild Christmas temperatures for Ireland, barbecued turkey has been an attractive alternative to a roast this year, so I suppose you could call it a BBQ Christmas.
“It felt more like spring and it’s certainly a dramatic contrast to the bitter temperatures of Christmas 2010.”