Although summer is peak tourist season in Ireland, and everything radiates an emerald green, you might discover autumn a more intriguing time to visit as there are fewer tourists, lower prices, and a richer spectrum of color, especially in the meadow grasslands.
No matter what time of year you visit, you may want to take an umbrella (or light hooded rain poncho) since Ireland experiences a tad more annual rainfall than Hawaii, the wettest and greenest state in the US.
Almost 70% of Ireland is covered in rowdy grasslands, a good thing, too, since the country has more sheep than people. Although traffic signs are posted in both the English and Irish languages, Ireland has fewer native-Irish-language speakers than cows, b’gosh and begorrah.
It may rain a little each day, but in autumn, it’s usually only light drizzles as opposed to downpours. And then, the sun appears. Similar to Hawaii (but yeah, not exactly, and few people are wearing flip-flops, even fewer wear sunscreen) — perhaps something to do with the disparate latitudes and the innate differences between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. When you decide to visit, check out this site for further information and current weather conditions in Ireland: Met.ie.
Ireland boasts some fairly rugged mountain passes and steep narrow roads with impressive photogenic switchbacks (interestingly, still single lane in some places), and there are plenty of hiking trails with imposing natural scenery and wildlife: rivers, lakes, waterfalls, wild heather, deer, pygmy shrews.
Whole walls, and buildings, that are covered in ivy become a riot of green during the summer months, naturally; then they begin to transform into stunning autumn hues.
You’ll probably see more sheep than cattle on the grassy slopes. You can drive for hours in some areas without sighting a human. Some days you may see more clouds than sun; however, they seem to lay a palpable mantle of peace and calm over the land.
You’ll drive through unique, tiny villages (in this post, I’m consciously attempting not to use the word “quaint” anywhere) that seem to have emerged from a much earlier time in history. You’ll discover more privately-owned retail shops than chain stores here and meet sincerely helpful and friendly locals everywhere.
You’ll notice plants you’ve never seen before—some, flourishing in fairly unlikely places.
If you’re accustomed to driving on the right, you may need to acclimate to driving on the left. But once you do, cruising Ireland’s quaint —oh, poop— back-country roads is quite simply a sheer delight. However, some of the narrow roads may not be the perfect place you’d choose to experience a flat tire (that story next week).
You can stroll along sandy beaches in Ireland, and if you drive down the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll see vertical cliffs plunge into the sea, lighthouses perched on off-shore islands , and surfers riding 10-foot waves. What you probably won’t see at any time of year is snow on the ground as Ireland boasts a fairly temperate year-round climate.
Although they call Ireland the “Emerald Isle” because the land glistens so thoroughly green during summer, the ocean lives up to the reputation all year long.
There’s nothing quite like fresh cheese straight from the farm. You’ll still find a host of small farms operating in Ireland; you’ll also find more people than goats here. Perhaps not surprising, though, because get this: they are now selling goat meat as food in Ireland—I kid you not.
Ireland’s high-mountain lakes and rocky shores create stunning settings for picnic lunches—or for filming locations for scenes in Star Wars and Game of Thrones.
Local architecture illuminates the land as if from an earlier, perhaps simpler, olde-worlde era—or as though you just drove into a fairy tale.
If you’ve ever sipped a Guinness from a can or bottle outside Ireland, you haven’t encountered what Guinness is all about—it’s one of those experiences where you have to “be there” to fully fathom the concept, including the 119 seconds it takes to pour one properly.
Luck of the Irish
Get this: you know how you become close to some bloggers you follow and may actually call them “friends” even though you’ve never shared coffee or even met them in person…while I was in Killarney, Ireland, I ran into two blogger friends who I’ve been following online for a couple years now—what are the odds of that, Irish luck, indeed. For those of you who don’t yet follow Sue and Dave at Travel Tales of Life, take a look at what they’ve been up to in Ireland.
I know this may seem a little odd here, but if you’d like to win a Kindle and not carry novels or your Lonely Planet guidebooks in your bag on your next journey, Matt at Expert Vagabond (he was also in Killarney attending the TBEX Conference) is giving one of the latest-version Kindles away. Maybe check it out and enter his giveaway on his most-recent post: Favorite Travel Books.