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All You Need to Know: Irish Weather

Posted on Aug 23, 2018 by Dawn Rainbolt

One of the biggest questions we receive is regarding Ireland’s climate. Ireland has a certain reputation about weather. Learn – and dispel! – myths about Irish weather, what to expect, and how to prepare.

Giant's Causeway sunny

A sunny day at the Giant’s Causeway after a lovely hike on the coast!

Myth – It rains all day in Ireland

In contrast to more temperate climates, such as the east coast of America or continental Europe where it rains for hours on end, it very rarely rains all day in Ireland. Instead, most days you’ll get a mixed bag of weather, with a bit of rain, a bit of clouds, a bit of wind and a bit of sun. The best way to prepare is to dress in layers, bring waterproofs (jackets and trousers) and check the hourly weather forecasts when planning an outdoor activity.

Myth – It never gets warm or sunny in Ireland

On most days, you’ll get some sun nearly every day in Ireland. Irish summers (yes, we have summers here!) are unpredictable but when Ireland’s summer comes, it comes with a bang! The good weather seems to hold longer, so if you get a sunny day, chances are it will stay sunny for several days to come.

Though temperatures are lower than Spain or the French Riviera- we’ll blame that on latitude! – when it’s sunny in Ireland, the sun seems stronger and more powerful than elsewhere. Some parts of Ireland seem particularly sunny, especially the West Cork and the southeast counties of Waterford and Wexford, both of which are said to have their own microclimates.

Autumn in Connemara

Hiking the beautiful Connemara region during Autumn.

Myth – Summer is the only good time to visit Ireland

As Irish seasons are more variable, there’s no “one” good season to visit. Summer certainly has its advantages: longer days, more sun, vivacity, outdoor festivals. However, you’re nearly as likely to have good weather in the off-peak seasons like late spring and early autumn. In spring, experience the fresh air, blankets of wildflowers, spring festivals and new life. In autumn, avoid the crowds after kids go back to school and take in the lovely golds and oranges.

Myth – No need for sunscreen/sunblock!

Ireland is sunnier than you might think! Watch out – because of our northern latitude, Irish sunburns are no joke! Make sure you bring sunscreen if you plan to be outdoors as it’s actually very easy to get a sunburn in Ireland if you’re outside on a sunny for a couple of hours.

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Irish Weather in General…

In general, you can expect a bit of everything weather wise – sunshine, rain, warm and cool temperatures – when hiking in Ireland. In fact, expect to see a little bit of everything every day!

In order to best to prepare for all eventualities, be sure to pack and wear plenty of layers that can be added or shed throughout the day.

Annual Temperatures

Average temperatures from April to September generally range from 12°C (54°F) and 18°C (64.5°F). It isn’t called the ‘Emerald Isle’ for nothing! There will be a few days where it is over 20°C or even 25°C (68 to 77°F) – and because this is more rare than other countries, the Irish sure know how to make the most of a warm and sunny day!

In general, you’ll find the south and the east of Ireland have the mildest climates. That said, part of Ireland’s charm is the dramatic weather! After all, how could the Emerald Isle be emerald without all that rain!?

Annual Rainfall / Precipitation

Average annual rainfall on the west coast of Ireland generally ranges from 1,000 to 1,250 mm (39.4 and 49.2 in), while the eat coast averages between 750 and 1,000 mm (29 and 39 in) of rainfall per year.

By comparison, New York gets about 710 mm (28 inches) t0 1,600 mm (62 inches) per year, Paris gets between 607-641 mm (24-25 inches), and Vancouver receives on average 1,150 mm (45 in) of rain per year.

There’s no denying that it rains a lot in Ireland, but the rain is dispersed. Instead of massive thunderstorms or heavy rains that can last for days, Ireland’s rain is usually light (think mist and drizzle) and doesn’t last long with the sun breaking through before too long – cue amazing rainbows and fantastic lighting perfect for dramatic landscape photography!

Read More About Exploring Ireland

Read on for Irish weather information discussed by season. 

Irish Weather by Season

Spring – March, April & May

Bluebells in Ireland - Irish spring

Bluebells in full bloom during Spring!

Spring sees nature kick into gear. As the trees bud and the flowers blossom, the Emerald Isle springs to life as the whole landscape turns to lush shades of green. Baby animals are being born – particularly the adorably fluffy baby lambs frolicking in nearly every field.

Expect highs to be between 13 and 15°C / 55 and 60°F. As with anywhere during the spring, rainfall is generally higher than the rest of the year, but the new life and new growth more than make up for it!

Summer – June, July & August

Ireland in Summer - Slieve League

Summer comes to Ireland’s dramatic Slieve League cliffs in remote Donegal!

The warmest months are June, July and August. Because of Ireland’s northern longitude, days get maximum 17 hours of daylight – in fact, it only really gets dark after 11pm during summer months around the summer solstice! This means that you have longer days to enjoy your daily activities as well as the evenings. Hence the well-worn phrase in Ireland; “sure there’s a grand stretch in the evenings.”

Expect highs to be between 17 and 20°C / 62 and 68°F with some days rocketing into the 20s (or 70s Fahrenheit). Rainfall is generally at its lowest in midsummer. These are Ireland’s most popular months for visitors so do be prepared for peak-season prices and availability, and more people visiting popular attractions.

Autumn – September, October & November

Sligo in autumn

Dramatic Irish autumn lighting in the surf village of Strandhill.

In autumn, highest temperatures hit between 11 and 17°C / 50 to 60°F, with September generally a fairly mild month. In fact, some of our best weather is in September and October, as the climate is generally drier though mild.

Enjoy walks in the wild landscapes as the greens turn to golds and reds. Though you can’t expect the extravagant autumn colours of New England, witness the forest undergrowth and bracken turn to golden-backed ferns. The heather-covered hills change from brilliant purple to a rich gold, made all the more beautiful by the dramatic autumn lighting.

As attractions and accommodations haven’t yet closed for winter, you’ll avoid most of the crowds, have more availability in the accommodation of your choice, and you’ll get better value for money.

Winter – December, January & February

Snow on Ben Bulben - Ireland winter

Snow dusting Ireland’s iconic table mountain, Ben Bulben.

The coldest and wettest months are January and February. The temperature rarely drops below freezing, and apart from the odd cold snap snow is relatively uncommon. It usually snows a few times a year on the east coast and once or twice on the west coast, though anything more than a light dusting of snow is rare.

A walk on a clear, crisp winter’s day can mean seeing nature at its most impressive. And because of the northern latitude, you can sometimes see the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights from the wild and northern stretches of Ireland, such as in northern Donegal where light pollution doesn’t exist. Accommodation prices are at their lowest, but do keep in mind that in most rural areas, accommodations and attractions close for the winter.

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Take a look at out hiking & biking adventure tours below, or check out our tailor made trip builder for private enquiries! Our self drive and Family itineraries are available year round.

Bike Tour - The Kerry Peninsulas

Location: South West – Cork & Kerry
  • Traverse the 3 wild and diverse peninsulas of Kerry: Beara, Iveragh & Dingle
  • Explore classic cycling routes: Molls Gap, the Gap of Dunloe & the Healy Pass
  • Pedal through Ireland's highest mountain range & Killarney National Park
  • Cycle to Ireland's westernmost point at Slea Head

Price: from €1,995

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Family Adventure - Paddling and Pirates

Family Tour on the Wild Atlantic Way - Connemara -
Location: West – Connemara, Burren & Aran Islands
  • Enjoy a privately guided trip, with each activity tailored to match your family's preferences
  • Island hop to the Pirate Queen's stronghold & try your hand at stand-up-paddling
  • Learn bushcraft and seashore foraging skills
  • Follow a pilgrimage path on horseback in St Patrick's footsteps

Price: from €1,850

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Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast

Mamore Gap Bike Donegal Ireland - biking Donegal
Location: North West – Donegal & Sligo
  • Explore Slieve League, some of Europe's highest sea cliffs!
  • Cycle Donegal's remote landscapes - National Geographic's #1 Coolest Place on Earth
  • Reach Ireland's northernmost point of Ireland, Malin Head - a Star Wars filming location

Price: from €1,995

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Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry

Skellig Islands tours, Kerry, hiking and island hopping in Cork and Kerry
Location: South West – Cork & Kerry
  • Guided gentle hikes & island hopping along the spectacular coastline and islands of southwest Ireland
  • Climb Skellig Michael, UNESCO World Heritage, and now a Star Wars filming location
  • Explore remote islands where the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) culture & tradition is still strong

Price: from €1,795

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Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal

Hiking Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coastal Route
Location: Northern Ireland – Giants Causeway & Belfast
  • Hike iconic Irish landscapes including UNESCO World Heritage Site the Giant's Causeway, Slieve League Cliffs & Glenveagh National Park
  • Walk Ireland's most northernly peninsula and Star Wars filming location, Malin Head, where mountains meet sea.
  • Hike through Donegal, voted National Geographic's Coolest Place on Earth in 2017
  • Island hopping to Rathlin Island, in search of myths and puffins

Price: from €1,710

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About the author

Dawn Rainbolt

American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture and sweeping landscapes of Ireland. Armed with a Masters Degree in Tourism Marketing and a love of writing and photography, she is Wilderness Ireland's Marketing Executive since 2017.

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