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    Why Visit Ireland in May?

    By Dawn Rainbolt, PR Manager
    More by Dawn

    Travel to Ireland During Spring

    May is an incredible month to visit Ireland. The days are long, the flowers are blooming, and the food is fresh. School holidays haven’t started yet, and the tourism season hasn’t kicked into full gear. If you’re looking for a spring holiday in Ireland, May might be the perfect month for you. Find out more below about why you should visit Ireland in Maey.

    Quick Access

    May Flowers – Particularly Bluebells

    Bluebells Woods

    Spring in Ireland – and May in particular – is a phenomenal month for flora. After long winter days, spring has sprung, and the flowers are in full bloom.

    The bluebells are particularly stunning if you manage to visit once the bloom starts. Bluebell season does not start at the same time every year, but usually in mid to late May, these violet-coloured flowers erupt in a carpet of colour throughout Ireland’s forests, lasting several weeks, before the season ends in June. They are often accompanied by other blooms like the graceful (if pungent!) wild garlic flowers, as well as primroses and others. Learn more in our spring flowers blog.

    The Burren is renowned for its floral display. At first glance, it seems desolate and lunar. Up close, the craggy landscape comes alive with a vivid floral display bursting amongst the crags. Home to some of Europe’s most diverse flora, with dozens of species of orchids and other plants normally inhabiting the Arctic to the Mediterranean, the Burren is a delight in spring and early summer. Visit during May to admire the start of this incredible natural bouquet – learn more about visiting the Burren here.

    For those who prefer manicured gardens to natural ones, May is a great time to wander the rows and alleys of grand gardens. In Wicklow, Powerscourt Estate along the Wicklow Way has some of the best gardens in the country; in fact, they are award-winning, and recognised by National Geographic as among the top 10 gardens in the world. On the other side of the country, Glenveagh Castle has stunning castle gardens offering a vivid contrast to the desolate wilds of Glenveagh National Park.

    Even if you don’t visit any of these regions, May is still a lovely month to visit and experience the plethora of wildflowers and gardens blooming into a rainbow of colour across Ireland.

    Spot Wildlife in May

    Puffin in flowers

    May is an ideal time to spot wildlife in Ireland. Whether your interest lies in creatures under the sea or birds in the air, it’s hard to go wrong with May.

    Most famously, parts of the west coast of Ireland host impressive puffin colonies at this time of year. Usually arriving in April and staying until June or July, May is a surefire time of year to spot these clownish birds. Places like Skellig Michael, Rathlin Island and other coastal spots mobbed by puffins for the breeding season are ideal places to spot puffins in May. You can learn more about these excellent little birds in our puffin blog.

    Other seabirds flock to the skies and coasts of Ireland in May as well. So whether you’re a budding ornithologist or simply enjoy spotting wildlife thriving in their natural environments, pack your binoculars for your May trip to Ireland. Learn more about birdwatching in Ireland.

    As an island, the ocean is very important to Ireland as well. The waters are teeming with life, from small but unusual crustaceans and sea cucumbers to immense creatures such as numerous species of whales. May is a good time to spot certain types of whales, such as minke and humpback as well as dolphins. Learn more about marine wildlife here.

    Fresh Culinary Delights

    Breakfast Avocado Toast

    Ireland has a secret: it’s actually a bit of a foodie haven. Not a place previously known for its food, recent years have seen a growing interest in creative, organic and local food in Ireland. An increasing number of independent cafes and restaurants are on the scene, and foodie experiences like foraging, farmhouse tours and culinary workshops are on the rise. Farm-to-fork, slow food and organic and locally-sourced dishes are becoming the norm.

    All said and done, winter isn’t the best time for farm-to-fork or locally sourced dishes. Once spring arrives, however, our natural larder explodes. May is a great month to eat in Ireland. Fresh veggies, fresh meat, fresh dairy, fresh seafood… the list goes on.

    Kitchen gardens are heavy with new vegetables ready to be added to complex and creative dishes. Strawberries start appearing in shops and on roadsides (depending on the season). Spring lamb is fresh and delicious – a perfect hearty meal for active travellers. May is a good month for seafood, too. Pair that with a refreshing gin and tonic – Ireland is secretly a fantastic place for gin, as we cover in our gin blog – and a stunning sunset view, and what can be better?

    Long Summery Days

    Summer solstice sunset

    On the Celtic calendar, May 1st is actually the start of summer (though not the case with the meteorological or astronomical calendars). Regardless of how you define summer, there’s no denying that the days are long in May. With 16 hours of sunshine and prolonged periods of dawn and dusk building up to the solstice on June 21st, May (along with June and July) is really the ultimate month for adventure.

    Enjoy bright mornings and full days followed by long and lazy evenings. With an average temperature of 16°C (50°F), take full advantage of the long May days to eat a leisurely dinner, sip whiskey or pints of crisp craft beer by the coast, or enjoy an after-dinner beachside stroll.

    Learn more about solstices in Ireland.

    Mild Temperatures, Fresh Air & Rainbows

    Rainbows in Ireland - Donegal

    This leads to a talk about temperatures. Though May can be a bit wet (lush green grasses and brightly coloured wildflowers don’t grow themselves!), an average temperature of 16°C (50°F) is really the perfect climate for outdoor activities.

    Even the occasional rain shower can be a blessing. Whether you’re cycling the hills of Kerry, hiking the peaks of southwest Ireland or walking the long distance trail around the Dingle Peninsula, mild temperatures are ideal for adventure.

    Flowing straight off the Atlantic, Ireland has some of the freshest air in Europe. And there’s no better time to enjoy the fresh air blowing through your hair than in May, particularly when cycling across the Aran Islands or hiking the islands of West Cork.

    Everyone associates Ireland with rainbows. This is not a myth! Ireland really does have a disproportionately high number of rainbows, and your chances of spotting one on a trip to Ireland are quite good. For visitors to Ireland in May, your chances are even better. Spring months are among the best time of year for rainbows as the conditions are just right – learn more about rainbows here.

    Summer Festivals & Markets

    May is the start of summer season activities. From outdoor markets to weekend festivals, everything really kicks off in May.

    There are several festivals oriented around Bealtaine, an ancient pagan celebration marking the start of summer. Other regional festivals take place in May, from local sporting events to cultural festivals with topics on music, food, writing, culture and more.

    Outdoor markets are fantastic in May as well, offering up fresh produce as well as local crafts. With warmer temperatures and longer days, May can be a good time to enjoy cosy outdoor terraces for a day’s-end pint or refreshing gin and tonic.

    Visit Before the Summer Crowds

    Cliffs Of Moher

    Lastly, May is a great month to visit if you prefer your own space. School holidays haven’t started yet, and many travellers’ thoughts haven’t yet transitioned into “summer holiday” mode, so May is really the best of both worlds – the cusp of summer without the busyness of summer.

    If you’re itching to visit the more popular or iconic spots and don’t love the idea of sharing the view with too many others, May might be the ideal month for you to visit Ireland. While the country won’t be as quiet as it is during the earlier months of the year, May is the best balance between weather and summer tours.

    Spring Climate

    From weather to wildlife, learn more about Ireland’s seasonal spring climate on our guide to Ireland in spring below.

    Learn More

    Visit Ireland in May

    Meet 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.

    View profile More by Dawn

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