In the Celtic calendar way of seeing the world and the seasons fall, or autumn as we say on this side of the Atlantic, begins at Lunasa. This harvest festival really kicks off in the final days of July and early August. The Irish word for the month of August is Lunasa. And there are a number of very good reasons why the best time to visit Ireland is in the fall months of August, September and October.
With the summer months I am lured away from the computer and desk binding tasks and find myself drawn outdoors. It’s been helped by the fact that we have had two hot and sunny spells. Not hot by North American standards maybe but as a Spanish friend said after returning from a trip back to visit family, “I’m not used to it anymore. My body has gone Irish.” So when the mercury is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit my brain feels fried. And a week of relentless sunshine just feels weird.
But we are back to overcast so my body feels normal in my regular attire of fleeces, socks and jeans. I’ve ditched my Factor 30 for the time being until then next outbreak of sun and hot weather. And I’m back to tell you of how amazing and beautiful is the Irish countryside and scenery in summertime.
While some people reckon the beginning of summer is marked by the solstice near 21st June, in the old Irish way of seeing the wheel of the year summer begins with May. It still may be chilly, especially at night; we could still be in for a frost and anxiously tuck up tender plants. The days are quite long and the showers are gentle and infrequent. But May, or Bealtaine in the Irish language, is the start of the fast and furious schedule of festivals, fleadhs and feis. I do have to say the Bealtaine is my favourite month of the year in Ireland. To my mind the month of May, or Bealtaine, is the most blissful and best time of year to visit Ireland.
There is one big disadvantage to visiting Ireland in the summer. High season sees flights, ferries and accommodation prices topping out. Cost apart, the good news is that there is so much to see and do in Ireland in the summer months. Those who are not on the tightest of budgets will be spoiled for choice for things to do in Ireland and the variety on offer will make it feel like the best time to visit Ireland.
According to the Celtic calendar summer officially starts on 1st May, or Bealtaine. Travellers in May can avail themselves of the costs for ‘shoulder’ season. May is also one of the most breathtakingly beautiful in Ireland for country scenery. The world feels like a flowery bower.
Summer time can be the best time of year to visit Ireland if you are suffocating in a hot and humid city. For those visitors coming from sweltering cities the good news is that you can chill out, both literally and figuratively in the Irish summer. It rarely gets warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest it is ever likely to get is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Days can be overcast, showery or sunny. So pack the sort of clothes that would be just as suitable for spring of autumn!
Pack those field glasses to spot the fauna. The summer months can offer the best time to visit Ireland for those on a camera safari. The flora and fauna are out in force and a wondrous biodiversity there is to see.
The long nights at the summer solstice still also inspire St. John’s Eve bonfires on 23rd June. Twilight occurs around 11pm and lingers. Sunrise will be coaxing you awake around 4am. The long nights will see fevered activity during hay making and turf footing, but there is still daylight to have some fun over a pint and a session of traditional music.
Garden lovers will revel in the many open gardens at castles and stately homes such as the Northern Irish National Trust properties at Florencecourt in County Fermanagh. The National Museum of Country Life near Castlebar in County Mayo has excellent exhibits on country living and crafts. It also has wonderful grounds and gardens to explore. If you are keen to try your hand at organic gardening Leitrim’s Organic Centre has many weekend and day courses to inspire you as well as imparting practical expertise.
The summer months also bring out the Irish festival spirit. There are the traditional féis and fleadhs, those music festivals that abound in every nook and corner of this island. You will find literary festivals, traditional music schools and the big event, the All Ireland Fleadh, which is in Cavan in 2012.
But the more adventurous spirits will enjoy the outdoor activities. Drier weather offers opportunities for exploring the caves at Marble Arch Caves. The surfers will be snatching at the waves on beaches between Strandhill in Sligo right up to Bundoran in Donegal. Adventure Centres in lakeland counties like Fermanagh, Cavan and Leitrim offer wind surfing and canoeing. Walking is an ever popular outdoor pursuit with the many long distance paths to choose from whether you want coastal walks or hillside views. Cyclists can avail themselves on the many trails such as the Kingfisher Cycling Trail or the Greenway.
July sees the annual pilgrimages to scale Croagh Patrick in County Mayo when hundreds of Irish people, many coming as a parish in a hired bus, take the challenge to climb the height and hear Mass at the summit. This month is the best time of year if you want to participate in this annual pilgrimage. There are also events at St. Patrick’s Purgatory in Donegal and at Knock, also in County Mayo.
Bilberry Sunday (or the last Sunday in July) also sees many holy wells having the traditional ‘pattern’ of prayers said as people petition for an improvement in their health or circumstances. These ‘patterns’ will be taking place all over Ireland at local holy wells either on the last Sunday in July (as they do at Holywell, Belcoo, Fermanagh) or on August 15th, which is a Marian feastday.
All in all there is very little not to tempt and nurture the body, mind or spirit during the summer months in Ireland. So despite the higher airfares, summertime really can be the best time of year to visit Ireland.
Bee Smith created Irish Blessings Tours to serve travellers to Ireland who want the unique and inspirational packaged for their group’s desires and needs. Bee seeks the source to manifest your dream Irish vacation according to your budget and time scale. She has a special interest in Fairy folklore, Celtic Spirituality and the Natural Heritage of western Ireland and Northern Ireland. In 2011 Bee became one of the first trained tour guides that act at ambassadors for the UNESCO designated Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. Send her your dreams for your Ireland vacation package to email@example.com.
Many people who are preparing a trip to Ireland worry about when is the best time of year to visit Ireland. In this series of articles I will tell you the positive points of each season; then you can decide for yourself what is the best time of the year to visit Ireland depending on what you want to focus on during your trip. Each part of the year has good points to consider. Using the Celtic Calendar we started with Samhain, or Winter. In this article I will focus on the reasons for you to consider Imbolc or Springtime as the best time of year to visit Ireland.
Many people who are preparing a trip to Ireland worry about when is the best time of year to visit Ireland. In this series of articles I will tell you the positive points of each season; then you can decide for yourself what is the best time of the year to visit Ireland depending on what you want to focus on during your trip. Each part of the year has good points to consider. Using the Celtic Calendar we will start with winter, which starts at Samhain, the Irish name for the month of November.