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What is the best time to visit Ireland ? - The charm of Ireland's changing weather

The weather is one of the most popular topics of conversation in Ireland. We’re not unique in this of course, but we have our own lexicon to describe different climatic occurrences; ‘a soft day’; ‘that’s a changeable one’ (often used euphemistically); ‘a hardy one’, ‘that turned into a grand day’… and many more.

We like to analyse, predict, and often condemn the conditions. The weather can be a great ice-breaker in conversation, something to find agreement on before more serious business is begun.

Visiting the Burren on a private tour of Ireland
Watching the changing skies at the Burren National Park...

Our climate can be summed up as being mild, moist and changeable, but without temperature extremes. You can, if you’re lucky, experience all four seasons in the one day.

Cliffs of Moher Day Tour
A typical day at the Cliffs of Moher...

There’s fact and fiction concerning our weather. So some facts from Met Éireann: The wettest place in Ireland is the area of the Maamturk and Partree Mountains between the counties Mayo and Galway, they get 2400 mm (94 inches) of rain. The driest place in Ireland is Dublin city which receives about 800 mm (31 inches) of rain a year. Valentia Island in Co Kerry is the warmest spot in Ireland with an average annual temperature of 10.9 ºC. On the downside, it also gets a lot of rain – almost twice as much as Dublin City annually.

Enjoying sunsets on a custom tour of Ireland.
Sunset over Killary Fjord

Enjoy sunset on a private tour of Northern Ireland
Sunset along the North East Coast, Northern Ireland

There is a universal belief that it always rains in Ireland, but the truth is it doesn’t – not quite. If we take one of Ireland’s meteorological stations, Athenry in Co Galway, its lowest monthly rainfall in May, with 46mm (less than 2 inches). That said, it had a whopping 297mm (almost 12 inches) in August. So it varies.

Enjoying the Wild Atlantic Way on a private tour Ireland.
The Wild Atlantic Way at its best...

But enough statistics. The truth is we have forty shades of grey as well as forty shades of green in Ireland. And we can’t have that green grass without plenty of moisture?

Change is part of the drama of weather. An overcast day with rain can change to glory in a matter of half an hour. And this happens so often. On continental Europe, azure skies can descend for what can seem like months on end. Ireland is different; we live with unpredictability. We thrive on it.

Private Driver tour Ireland and Galway Bay
September Sunsets over Galway Bay...

Too much calm can be tiresome too, ironically. When there’s no breeze to make ripples on a lake, you miss Nature’s cut and thrust? The best days are the ones with jeopardy, when you’d say: ‘What’s the weather going to do?’

Fun in the winds at O'Briens Tower, County Clare


So when is the best month to travel in Ireland?

Well, each of the seasons and months have their own advantages and charms. Below we have broken down some of the best reasons for travelling to Ireland on each of the months of the year....

Ireland in January & February

Some advantages - A time of minimum rainfall - No crowds - Reduced Rates

Some disadvantages - Short days and long nights

Comments - For those who like complete quiet on their travels these two months are ideal with minimum crowds and the lack of rain can be surprising!

Crisp clean air of January in Ireland!


Ireland in March

Some advantages - Before the St Patricks Festival (17th March) there are minimum crowds - Reduced Rates

Some disadvantages - Tends to be high rainfall

Comments - St Patricks festival kicks off the Irish tourism season. Tends to be younger crowds from the 17th March until 25th or so and busy. Otherwise this is a quiet month.

Festivities of March in Ireland.


Ireland in April

Some advantages - Weather beginning to change and the low sun creates great opportunities for photography and lots of rainbows? The weather can be particularly unpredictable which makes for beautiful changing scenery.

Clocks go forward at the start of April meaning longer days. (mid-April: sun rises at 06:23 and sets at 20:00)

Some disadvantages - No real cons when it comes to travelling Ireland in April.

Comments - A great time for photography with long shadows and still quieter than the main tourist season.

The changing colours of Autumn in Ireland.


Ireland in May, June, July & August

Some advantages - Temperatures begin to rise - Tends to be bluer skies - Longer Days -In Ireland, on the longest day, the sun rises at about 5am. and sets at about 10pm. The summer solstice occurs every year on or near 21 June - Beautiful flowering Hawthorn Trees in May - Lots of festivals happen these months.

Some disadvantages - These are the busier months in terms of tourism. Particularly June to August - May miss the drama of big winds and big waves along the Wild Atlantic Way.


Ireland in September & October

Some advantages - Big waves and big winds make for dramatic changing weather and scenery - Great for photography - Crowds become less

Some disadvantages - The weather can be particularly unpredictable.

Comments - A favourite time to travel for Little Gem as the weather is constantly changing creating beautifully dramatic scenery across the island. The awesome waves of the Atlantic are also at their best during this time.

A time for big waves and big surf - Ireland in September!


Ireland in November

Some advantages - Very quiet month in terms of crowds

Some disadvantages - A lot colder and the days become quite short.

Comments - For those who like complete quiet on their travels.

Tour Ireland in November
Ireland in November !


Ireland in December

Some advantages - Great atmosphere during the Christmas period - Less crowds

Some disadvantages - A lot colder and short days - On the winter solstice the sunrise is at approx 8:30am and sunset at approx 4:15pm.

Comments - Ireland over Christmas is a special time with the lights and decorations adding a festive atmosphere. The winter solstice of December 21st is a time of festivities at the ancient megalithic sites such as Newgrange.

You can't beat the cosy atmosphere at Christmas in the pubs of Ireland.

Ní lá na gaoithel lá na scoilb

(A windy day is not for thatching)

A wet and windy May fills the barn with corn and hay



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