Best time to travel to Ireland
September 4, 2021 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Basically, what it says on the tin.

Spouse and I have now cancelled our anniversary trip twice because of CoVid.

When it's actually possible to fly from US (Texas, specifically) without quarantine in or out, what do our Irish MeFis (or others who have visited Ireland) recommend as times to visit? We have zero interest in being in Ireland for 3/17 or any other major event.

Cold is fine.. Cold and wet is not preferred, but we can deal with that. If there is an off season, we could totally do that.

As always, thank you AskMe. You have never steered me wrong.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've been to Ireland twice - once in March and once in January.

I was sticking to Dublin and to the southern coast (County Cork). The weather was cold, but surprisingly not arctic - the south of Ireland gets smacked by the Gulf Stream, which keeps the weather from getting super-cold. (At did as of 1998, current climate change activity may be starting to change that.)

January was an "off season", and there were some things in Dublin that were closed - but not to the point that I felt deprived or anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:57 AM on September 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not sure if it was typical, but I visited Dublin in June a couple of years ago and the weather was lovely.
posted by synecdoche at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I also visited in June and, other than one abnormally hot day, the weather was great. If you have plans to take the ferry to Scotland (or vice versa) our guide said that the best time to visit Scotland is August because the heather is in bloom then and the mountains are purple.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I went in early July a few years back, which I believe is the start of high season. Weatherwise, it was a comfortable temperature (not hot, not cold), but it rained at least a bit (sometimes a lot) every day. I think I was a little unlucky there, but there's a reason the country is so green - bring a raincoat!

I was in the northwest (County Sligo and County Mayo) and visited pubs, beaches, coastal cliffs, ruins, woods, a lough, a few shops and a prehistoric site. Nowhere was busy. It was very pleasant, apart from the rain.

Keep in mind that if you visit during the winter, the hours of daylight will be very short. In December and January, you're looking at sunrise between 8 and 9 in the morning, sunset between 4 and 5 pm.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I live in Ireland and I would recommend April or early October to avoid the bulk of tourists and school vacations and get shoulder season pricing. It's rare that it gets cold enough to snow because as mentioned, this is where the Gulf Stream makes landfall. However, in winter it is DARK, which North Americans mostly fail to recognise: New York is on the same latitude as Madrid, while Dublin is on the same latitude as Minsk.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:48 AM on September 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

We went 6 years ago this week, had beautiful weather the whole time, sunny and comfortable, had a sweater with us at all times just in case. Everything was open but there weren't many crowds anywhere. Easy to find a place to stay and eat on last minute notice. Would recommend.
posted by danapiper at 9:56 AM on September 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I hate Irish weather but have an Irish spouse and have spent a lot of time there, including living there for a whole year plus some.

The rainiest supposedly summer month is often august, these heatwaves are flukes and you can’t plan for them at all. Overall though, it’s a damp and windy place so the weather systems come and go in quick succession. A rainy morning may be followed by an overcast lunchtime and then a glorious evening and sunset.

By far, I think the most stunning months I’ve been there have been September and October. Maybe even November but definitely September and October!
posted by pairofshades at 10:24 AM on September 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ireland is north. It's good to be there in daylight, so the longer days between spring and fall equinoxes are pretty nice. I visited in November, it was chilly and damp, making pubs a haven. This is not a complaint.
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on September 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In Ireland we have weather not climate. Met Eireann, the national weather service are pretty good at predicting weather 3 days out; beyond that it's a crap-shoot. Because Gulf Stream, it's almost twice as wet in the West as in Dublin [where 1000mm = 40 in rain/year]. About half the days in any year will have no rain. But "rain" is defined as >1mm/day = "a grand soft day". We rented a Shannon cruiser for Easter week some years ago and experienced horizontal snow, broiling sunshine and everything in between. On Easter Sunday all the boat-children shared Easter eggs along the dock in Banagher. It was all wonderful if damp. If you don't over think the dates you won't be disappointed. And [harrumph] you don't need to go to Scotland for heather: there are 47 places in the 26 counties called Knockroe [Cnoc rua, the [purply-]red hill]. If you like that sort of thing, the last Sunday of July is Fraochán Sunday when folks [used to] yomp over the heathery hills harvesting bilberry/ blueberry Vaccinium myrtillus. . . against the scurvy, like.
posted by BobTheScientist at 12:56 PM on September 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your input. Every single one of you has given great information. I have only marked two as "best answer", as it should be "best answer" for those who search in the future. I definitely love all of the advice from everyone so far. Seeing every comment as green can be misleading for future people, right?

One piece I forgot to mention is that our anniversary is late September and now partner's job has made that entire month blackout time for vacation. Otherwise, I wouldn't have even asked.... It was always our intention to go for our official anniversary. "Octoberish" is beginning to sound pretty awesome. Will hopefully let you know 13 months from now.

(And, yes, will still keep watching this thread for a while if others have more to share.)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:53 AM on September 5, 2021

A word on rain: technically it's raining today. It looks grey and grim out there, but even though there is water falling from the sky, I wouldn't call it rain. I went out to clear a friend's shed this morning and I was just wearing a fleece. It's... misting? Vertically? "A grand soft day" is exactly what it is... there is precipitation but you can ignore it completely, and it's around 65F so it's a nice day. I only wear a raincoat in January and February when it's absolutely chucking it down.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:18 AM on September 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you are going in October, then try for earlier, before the end of daylight savings time so that you get longer evenings which is better for a vacation than sunlight earlier in the morning. Autumn (or spring) is, in my opinion better than summer, because in summer you might be subconsciously expecting the weather to be warm and dry and although that's possible, there's a reason everything is so green. Winter is, as people say, dark with very short days compared to places in the US.
posted by plonkee at 2:32 AM on September 6, 2021

I'd agree with everyone else that Irish weather is not in the slightest predictable - I've had lovely weeks in March, and horrible ones in July ( and on one memorable occasion, snow at the end of April.) But if you're willing to be flexible and with a bit of luck, October (particularly the early part) should be a good time to go.

It will be coolish (and it's a damp cold, so most people find it feels colder than it should be looking at the temperature.) But that can be fixed by dressing warmly. (Preferably with layers - even just getting out of the wind can make a big difference in how warm you feel, not to mention the 4 seasons in a day thing that Irish weather likes to provide.)

I'd suggest not planning too much too far in advance, so that you're able to take the more accurate forecast BobTheScientist mentioned into account. Sights like The Ring of Kerry are beautiful (and less crowded in October), but won't be particularly pleasant if it's drizzling mist. If you try and plan too soon in advance, and too tightly, you can end up in a museum on the nicest day of the trip, while trying to go to the Cliffs of Moher while it's blowing a gale.
posted by scorbet at 6:37 AM on September 6, 2021

I'm Irish and my favourite month is November. Although the days are short, the light and the skies are spectacular because the angle of the sun is low and the golden hours stretch. It's my favourite time to photograph Ireland. Of course if it's totally overcast all the time that doesn't hold so it depends how long your trip is but in contrast to plonkee I would say go for later October if your trip is sufficiently long to avoid the risk of it raining all the time that you're there (i.e. more than one week).

I agree that you should be flexible in your planning to ensure that you can be tucked up beside a pub fire when it's lashing outside and out enjoying the sights when the sun breaks through.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2021

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