Ireland weather in February?
September 17, 2010 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I would like to take a horseback riding vacation in Ireland focused on cross-country jumping. I might have some time in February, is this a good time to go?

I want to take a cross-country riding vacation in Ireleand
I'm considering going in February to either Co. Galway or Co. Wicklow but I'm reading inconsistent things about the weather in February.

One of the providers I spoke to about the riding mentioned I could only do 2 hrs of X-country riding/day because of the wet weather and ground in February. This is inconsistent with the Ireland weather website which shows February as one of the driest months.

Is the ground soggy and the weather wet in February in Ireland? Is February an ok time to go - what are the riding conditions likely to be like?
posted by gwen1234 to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Rain is our winter weather. Raining is what it does instead of say, snowing like it does in a cooperative country. In a typical February there will be an average of 15 days of rain, 5 of which will have heavy rain, meaning more than 2" of rain and resulting in sodden ground.

Beleive me, there is ZERO chance an Irish tour operator of any kind does not very badly want your money right now. If the person with the horses is telling you that you don't want to get on a horse in Ireland in February, then you probably do not want to get on a horse in Ireland in February.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:47 PM on September 17, 2010

I toured Ireland in February (and actually horse trekked one day, but just one). It is wet and windy and cold. Not as cold as Chicago, of course, but wet and windy and cold for being outside. It didn't rain constantly on us, no, but the air never really dried out and everything was always damp. (Which may be an accurate description of Irish weather generally, I've only been there in the soft seasons.) The days are also quite short; Ireland is farther north than you think.

I absolutely adored it; everything was empty, there weren't many tourists, we got a lot of personal attention, and now wet, windy, cold days in November inevitably remind me of touring Ireland, but YMMV, especially with a very outdoorsy trip. (We were outdoors a lot but we'd spend a couple hours outdoors and then retreat to the car to drive to the next place or whatever.)

If you go, pack for cold RAIN, not just cold -- a winter rain hat was key for me, along with a warm and waterproof windbreaker.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:05 PM on September 17, 2010

Thanks for your comments. Any recommendations on a dry month then? Given the weather website the summer looks wetter - but what is folks experience?
posted by gwen1234 at 2:14 PM on September 17, 2010

I am not a rider, so I asked my very lovely friend who runs Dochara, which is also where I got the rainfall stats. (It's a brilliant travel resource for Ireland but she dosn't currently cover riding.) This is what she says:

Winter is hunting season, so there are loads of people enjoying plenty of cross county riding, and all riding centers of a decent size will have horses suitable for cross country riding ready and fit. You are NOT likely to get the kind of trekking and cross country riding that is available in the popular tourist destinations during the summer at that time of year - so not much trekking or trail riding.

If you are someone who is a competent rider, and like to hunt and has no objections to hunting, the best way to get in cross country riding is a day or two of hunting. Hunts vary from relatively easy ones, where the pace is not too demanding, to ones where the people seem bent on killing themselves, are fearless, and move fast.

Outside of hunting, it's less easy. Because hunts run over different ground each time they hunt, there isn't a problem with the soft mucky ground that is universal in February. BUT cross country courses, which would be available in summer, are generally closed in winter, because having horses repeatedly gong around the same mucky course just churns up the ground and damages it irreperably.

She suggests May and September for the best riding outside of peak tourist season. She is happy to suggest a few good places to hunt with riding centres that will have genuinely very good horses for hire, or if you prefer, some of the better trekking or trail riding centres. She points out that many will have horses that are perfectly adequate and safe, but not that great if you are a really competent rider. If you want referals, just let me know.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:46 PM on September 17, 2010

I went on a cross-country jumping holiday in Galway several years ago in January. It was awesome, but I may have been unusually lucky with the weather that week. It had obviously been very wet before I got there as the mud was deep and pervasive, something soft to land on if you fall, but firmer ground would have been nice for sure. If the operator is telling you February isn't ideal I would trust them. Something to consider is that it's not just the rain; it's the months without enough sun to dry it, so the mud builds up. If I went again I would probably aim for October.

Also the coldest six months I ever spent in my life were in Ireland, and I'm from northern Canada! The damp is biting for any of the winter months, definitely get a wax jacket and heavy sweaters, nothing else coped with the wet cold like that combination. Also, GLOVES. Feel free to memail me if you'd like specifics on the outfit I went with etc, though it was several years ago.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:28 PM on September 17, 2010

I worked as a groom in a showjumping/eventing stable in Ireland. It is true as DarlingBri says. In winter the eventing close down and people hunt/showjump instead. If I remember correctly the season starts in march/april and last to september/october.

The problem is that the ground will likely be saturated from raining during the fall and winter. It is simply never warm and dry enough for the ground to dry up. Under this conditions the cross-country tracks are very easily damaged.
posted by furisto at 4:50 AM on September 18, 2010

Thanks! This was really helpful. No feb trip for me!
posted by gwen1234 at 10:52 AM on September 18, 2010

« Older This is silly, but it's been driving me crazy   |   Getting rental deposit back Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.