‘Weather’ to go to Ireland

‘Weather’ to go to Ireland

Nigel asks: Is our climate really a joke?

The climate of Ireland … where do I even begin! Ok, let’s get a couple of the jokes out of the way for a start. Summer is my favourite day of the year. It only rained twice last year … once from January to June and once from July to December. Okay then, that’s the humour out of the way and sometimes with the weather here in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a sense of humour is vital! Down to the serious business now!

Whenever I am on my travels, especially in the US and people hear that I am from ‘Ireland’ (or as they call it ‘home’), I get asked two main questions. Question one is “My cousin Patrick lives near Cork, do you know him?” I usually say ‘I don’t know that particular Patrick’. Question two is “We would love to go to visit Patrick who lives near Cork. What’s the best time of the year to go?”

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMWhat’s that they say about ‘4 seasons in one day’?

At this point I let out a small sigh and try to explain that we don’t do seasons in Ireland, i.e. snow in winter, showers in springtime, blazing sunshine in the summer and crisp autumn days with misty mornings. Yes, we can get all of those weather types but often on the same day. We can have spring or autumn pretty much any time of the year. Sometimes we even have summer in the winter and vice versa.

Four seasons in one day

I remember making a snowman, or was it a snow bunny, one Easter Monday morning and then sitting out sunbathing in the afternoon next to a melted snow ‘thing’! We wish we had set weather patterns where we could say we are going to have a barbecue in two weeks and invite people over. But that’s a very risky strategy, as chances are it could end up as an indoor barbecue. It’s usually safer to wait until 6pm on a nice day and then tell people to get their tushies over here quick while it’s sunny!

Since I gave up work last autumn on health grounds (i.e. I was sick of it). I have discovered that the weather here isn’t actually all that bad. I now have time to enjoy all of the good spells of weather, which seemed to have a habit of coinciding with work days. So often when there was a nice spell of weather, it would begin on a Monday morning and finish at 5pm the following Friday, just in time for the weekend … how annoying is that?! Here however are my recent observations of our seasons, based on my experiences living in Northern Ireland close to Belfast.

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMAhhh … spring at last! Well, actually this was taken in late December 2016

Winter Weather

Snowfall

  • very little snow
  • some snow on the mountains
  • one recent significant snowfall was in late March 2013 (i.e. spring!)

Temperature

  • relatively mild: around 40 – 50°F most days
  • very little overnight frost, mainly inland
  • brilliant sunny days are not unusual
  • calm, clear skies: perfect conditions for overnight frosts

Daylight hours

  • Mid-December: 8am to 4pm
  • late February: 6am to 6pm

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMThe Mourne Mountains in the deep mid-winter of early April 2013 

Ulster lingo

I recall one recent Christmas Day being 60 degrees! People here will frequently complain about the cold weather whenever it is perhaps 45°F in mid winter. Clearly, they think they live in a desert in the Middle East! If you hear someone say “I’m foundered” or “it’s Baltic out there” this is Ulster speak for “I think today is rather cold”!

Spring Weather

Rainfall

  • varies from year to year, usually more dry more often than wet

Temperatures

  • anything from 40 to 70°F in March, even April
  • May can be from 55 to 75°F
  • Sunshine amounts vary
  • May 2017 had many days of clear blue skies

Daylight Hours

  • late March: 5am to after 8pm
  • late May: 4am to 10pm

Daylight hours are what makes springtime perhaps my favourite season of all. If you are a light sleeper, you might need blackout curtains come May

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMApril Showers – Belfast shipyard in the sunset

Summer Weather

Temperatures

  • Temperatures vary hugely, between 55 right up to 80°F
  • more commonly between 64 and 72°F

Sunshine

Sunshine amounts can sometimes be quite high as there are almost 18 hours of daylight especially the further north you travel. Similarly, there can be days with zero hours of sunshine!

Rainfall

Rainfall is where it can sometimes be interesting! From my experience, we seem to have more rainfall in the summer than at other supposedly ‘wetter’ times of the year! Total washout days are rare but short heavy almost monsoon like downpours are not unusual.

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMPortballintrae Beach in the evening sun, County Down countryside and proof that people (aka Martha) actually do go into the sea here (Lucky Shell Beach, County Donegal)

Daylight Hours

Daylight hours remain high and peak in late June when the far north has only maybe three hours of total darkness. By late August however there is a noticeable change with it starting to get dark closer to 9pm than 11pm.

Water temperatures

Water temperature is something I’m often asked about by friends in the US. It would tend to be in the mid teens so it’s very different to Florida! People do however go in, as I have done occasionally, and have lived to tell the tale!

Ulster lingo

In Florida they call 64°F winter and stay indoors, whereas we dust off the barbecue, buy new outdoor furniture, take our clothes off and say “I’m roasted” or “it’s baking out there”, which both mean “I am finding it rather warm today!”. If you hear somebody say “the gravy was running down my oxters”, this means that they have rather sweaty armpits … ewww!

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMGuess the season! Yup! Autumn. (Newcastle, County Down)

Autumn Weather

Temperatures

  • Temperatures range from freezing to the mid 60s

Sunshine

  • fewer sunshine hours due to shorter days but warm, sunny periods not unusual
  • recently, September and October have been particularly sunny

Daylight Hours

  • days get rapidly shorter
  • after ‘clocks go back’ at end of October: 7am to 6pm

Rainfall

Rainfall is historically quite high in Autumn but again, recent years have bucked that trend (especially in September and October).

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMAutumn Glory in Castle Park, Bangor, County Down

Do not miss Christmas Dinner

Traditionally, this is my least favourite season, as it signals the downward spiral to winter and long hours of darkness … yuck! Normally, this is the time of year when I want to be put in a cardboard box like a tortoise and woken in the spring … apart from having my Christmas dinner! Ironically however, autumn has given us some of our best weather in recent years. We’ve had long, settled spells of dry, often sunny weather for a number of week, so I am slowly becoming a fan!

In ‘summer’y

If I had to choose when to visit, then I would probably say May/June or September/October to have the best chance of hopefully more dry days than wet and decent hours of daylight. Nobody has ever booked a holiday to Ireland based upon getting a suntan even if it can happen. The rain is what helps to make our countryside as green as it is.

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GET GOOD WEATHER IN IRELAND on BAYBREEZIN.COMLooking towards Ballintoy Harbour with Rathlin Island in the distance

So after reading this, you will hopefully understand my difficulty in advising people when it’s best to come. As I said earlier, these observations are based upon where I live in Northern Ireland, about 10 miles east of Belfast. The climate in other parts of Ireland might well differ slightly. The west coast tends to get the most rainfall coming in from the Atlantic, whilst the south east of the Republic of Ireland around Wexford is often the driest and sunniest region.

Oh, and if you should need to find out about the climate in Cork, you should probably ask your cousin Patrick!

What time of year is the weather best to visit Ireland? Find out here.



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6 Comments

  1. August 7, 2017 / 4:31 am

    Thank you for your wonderful expose’ on the seasons and weather of Northern Ireland! I always enjoy reading your colorful and humorous descriptions of your lovely country. I feel I’ve been there even though I haven’t.

    Cheers,
    Corrine

    • baybreezin
      August 7, 2017 / 6:39 am

      Thanks for your comment Corrine. It’s always great to hear feedback like this 🙂

  2. August 12, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    Your article was helpful in priming me to accept whatever weather I get during our trip to Ireland. Sometimes weather extremes can be a nuisance but the key is to be dressed for it. Weather, after all, is part of the total experience. If heavy rains drive you indoors, you never know who by chance you may meet. We’ e decided to come visit in May, come what may!

    • baybreezin
      August 13, 2017 / 12:45 am

      Hi Phyllis,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m really happy that our article helped to prepare you for trip to Ireland. Yes it does rain but many days it doesn’t and amazingly the sun is even known to shine! May was beautiful this year with lots of sun and barely a drop of rain so hope next year is as kind to you!

      Best wishes,

      Nigel and Martha

  3. Rachel Webb
    August 23, 2017 / 9:35 pm

    Here in Leitrim (just South of the border from Northern Ireland) I would have to agree the best months for sunshine seem generally to be May and September. But I love the rain too. And it’s the weather that gives us long empty beaches and beautiful green lanes!

    • baybreezin
      August 27, 2017 / 6:43 pm

      Those have been the best months recently but will probably change now that I’ve told people when is best to visit! A little rain is ok but not the daily rain of recent weeks.

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