One of the most famous things about Ireland is the weather. Sometimes, I meet people who are intimidated by the Irish weather, but provided you know what you’re getting into, it is easy to deal with. After all, we wouldn’t be the “Emerald Isle” if it wasn’t for all the rain!
Ireland has a lower average hourly rainfall than most other countries, with a higher number of wet days, averaging between 150 and 225 per year. Bringing multiple layers of clothes, including raingear, is the best way to prepare for the often unpredictable Irish rain.
Since becoming a guide, I have always sought to improve my waterproof wardrobe with advice from travelers from all over the world. Here are my recommendations for what to expect when it comes to the Irish rain and how to dress for it…
How to Dress for the Rain in Ireland
The most effective way to dress for the rain in Ireland is to wear multiple layers. These should include a base layer for when you are inside, a warmer layer for when the weather is calmer and an outer layer to deal with rain and wind.
These outer two layers can be combined in the summer months in many cases and there are plenty of light-weight rain jackets that would accommodate both uses.
Most of the time when people travel, they will be active during the day and will be constantly in and out of buildings. When visiting a city like Dublin for example, you might be on an open-top bus tour or a walking tour during the day, then go to a museum and finish your day hopping from pub to pub. The weather will change throughout the day and you will need to adjust constantly.
You will need to change what you pack depending on the time of year. While it rarely snows in Ireland, the winter months are colder and wetter with December and January generally the wettest. In the summer, you may find the days long and sunny, with the occasional rain shower.
I will talk about this in more detail below.
Don’t Dress Like the Irish for the Rain
One important thing to note about dressing for the Irish rain is what the Irish people themselves wear. When visiting Ireland, many people comment on how the locals seemingly do not dress for the weather.
This is a comment that I have often found and I want to be clear; you don’t have to dress like the Irish!
Before I started to work outside as a tour guide, I had the same approach to the Irish rain as most locals. I wore just enough layers to get me from one building to the other and, occasionally, I would wear a coat or jacket if it was cold. This is not the approach that visitors should have.
While many locals don’t really mind having wet shoes for a little while, visitors shouldn’t have this approach. People living here have the luxury of going home and getting warm at the end of a day. Most visitors will be out and about all day and will have more limited clothing options.
I usually don’t recommend people bring an umbrella to Ireland. The wind that we get here means that these are often ineffective, but a heavy duty golf umbrella can work during the winter.
Do You Need a Raincoat in Ireland
There are between 150 and 225 wet days on average per year in Ireland, depending on the region. While the hourly rainfall is lower than many other countries, rain can often come unpredicted. It is recommended that travelers to Ireland prepare with some sort of rain gear, including a raincoat.
When visiting Ireland, a raincoat is a must. Plenty of people on my tours have happily told me that they didn’t need to wear theirs once during their stay. For every one of them however, I have met at least one person who got stuck out in the weather and was soaked!
The raincoat that you bring to Ireland doesn’t have to be the most heavy-duty or expensive. Much of the rainfall we receive in Ireland is lighter than most other countries and it tends to be dispersed throughout the day. You only really need it for those brief showers when you are between pubs or museums.
What to Wear in the Summer vs Winter Rain in Ireland
To deal with the rain, a light rain jacket or umbrella is usually sufficient in the summer in Ireland. During winter however, an umbrella is usually not sufficient as it will be wetter and windier. For an Irish winter, it is better to wear an outer layer including shoes and trousers and other layers for warmth and comfort.
There are plenty of things to consider about the weather when packing for your trip to Ireland.
The weather in Ireland starts to get warmer and drier around April and this will continue until September/ October. Though it is uncommon for anywhere in Ireland to go more than a couple of weeks without any rain recorded, you will still be able to see sunshine and blue skies during the Irish summer.
I know that packing shorts and sunscreen for a trip to Ireland may seem overly ambitious, but there is a good chance you will need these items when travelling here in the summer.
If you visit Ireland in the winter, you will find more of the weather that we are famous for! Though it rarely snows in Ireland, the months between October to March can get dreary and overcast and there is a much higher chance of rain.
At least one good pair of shoes is a must to deal with winter weather in Ireland. Also consider packing some form of rain proof/ resistant trousers and potentially thermals. Especially if you plan on exploring the Irish countryside, these will be a great help in addition to the regular rain gear.
Does it Rain a Lot in Ireland
In general, the weather in Ireland is better on the East Coast. The average year in the East and South East receives about 150 days of rain, while the West Coast receives around 225 days of rain.
The wettest months of the year are usually December and January, with April being the driest month on average for most of the country. The exception to this is the South East, where June is the driest.
In the graphic below, you can see in detail the average rainfall in Ireland by month. This information was collected by the Irish Meteorological Service (Mét Éireann). For more information from the source, please click this link to their website.