Here is a question you probably have about the weather in Ireland:  “Is it going to rain all the time?”

Everyone asks that.  And, to be sure, Ireland is known for being rainy.  It couldn’t be the Emerald Isle without a healthy amount of rain.  But no, it isn’t going to rain every day.  Expect it to rain some – and prepare for it – but not all the time.  Probably not even half the time.  In this article, I will try to give you a better idea of what to expect.  Later, we’ll talk about how to prepare for it.

How Much Rain?

How much will it rain in Ireland?  Of course, there is no way of knowing for sure.  Let’s start with the numbers.  Here is the rainfall data for September – the month in which we will be doing our tour to Ireland:

  • Avg. precipitation: 125 mm (4.9 inches)
  • Days with Rain: 16

By the way, Ireland is much rainier in other months, particularly the winter.  In November through January, Ireland averages over 170 mm (6.7 inches) of rain per month, and also averages over 20 days with rain per month!  That’s the main reason why you don’t want to tour Ireland in the winter.  And it is also why you hear about it raining all the time in Ireland.  In the winter months, it does!

It Depends on Where You Are In Ireland

Obviously, different parts of Ireland take different amounts of rainfall.  Rather than list several different locations, however, I have picked the rainiest place in all of Ireland for the numbers I am showing you, which is Valencia Island in County Kerry (at the tip of the Ring of Kerry).  Since the data above comes from Valencia, you can bet our particular locations will be no worse than what I am showing you here.

Comparison to Other Places

Anyway, now let’s try to add some context to these numbers.  There are two numbers: the number of days it is going to rain on us, and then the amount of rain.

The number of days is easier to grasp without any other context.  We are looking at an average of 16 days with rain out of a month with 30-31 days.  That breaks down to about half the days have some amount of rain.  We’ll talk about what that rain might look like in a second.

As to the amount of rain, it might not really be apparent to you whether 4-5 inches is a lot of rain or a little.  For context’s sake, let’s compare that to a few other cities your might be familiar with.  Here are some examples:

  • Ireland:   3.9 inches (July) and 4.9 inches (September)
  • Miami:    5.6 inches (July) and 8.3 inches (September)
  • Atlanta:   5.1 inches (July) and 4.0 inches (September)
  • D.C.:       3.6 inches (July) and 3.8 inches (September)
  • Chicago: 3.5 inches (July) and 3.2 inches (September)
  • Seattle:   1.0 inches (July) and 1.6 inches (September)

Oddly, the only city that isn’t on par with Ireland is Seattle, but those are particularly dry months there, and Seattle more than makes up for this in other months.

Nature of Rain in Ireland

These comparison numbers bring us to something that is really important about rainfall in Ireland, and that is the nature of the rain.  The fact is, you are very unlikely to see a thunderstorm or a big deluge of rain while you are in Ireland.  They are just rather uncommon.  Rather, you are just likely to see a misty sort of rainfall.  It will often turn into a drizzle and occasionally even turn into a harder, lashing rainfall.   But it is typically a much lighter rainfall than what you might be used to.

In addition, the rain is unlikely to last all day.  It typically comes and goes.  It might be misty and drizzle in the morning but burn off by noon, for example.   What that means to us is that we can often work around the rain.

Our Trip, By the Numbers

The numbers above suggest that we will get some rain on about half of our days in Ireland.  Since we will be there about 10 days, that means we should expect it to rain on 4-5 of those days.  That doesn’t mean it will rain all day, just that we will get something that day.  Importantly, it also means that we should expect NO rainfall on about half of our days in Ireland!

Again, even on those days in which we do experience rain, that doesn’t mean the day will be a washout.  It could mean that it is an otherwise nice day where some rain temporarily rolls through.  Or it could just be a grey day that involves some misty rain.  But usually it is something we can work around.

Keep in mind these are just averages though.  It varies by year, and there are rainy years and there are nice years.  Similarly, no matter what, it might rain every day for 2 weeks straight.  Or it might be nice.  You just don’t know.  All we can do is look at the numbers and make educated guesses.

Applying My Own Experience

Perhaps I have just been fortunate, but my own experience in Ireland has been much better than the numbers suggest.  My own experience suggests we should expect nice days more than half the time.  By nice I mean cloudy or partly cloudy, but no significant rain.  I would guess that will be the case about 5-6 of our days there.  Sure, we might have some mist or clouds roll through for a little while, but on the whole the weather on those days should be ok.

We’ll then have a few days of grey misty days with some drizzle.  Finally, we’ll likely have a day or two where it just rains all day.  But these certainly won’t be the norm, and we will just make alternate arrangements for those days.

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