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Ireland/Northern Ireland in July-August or September-October?

I tried searching and didn't find anything on the forum that quite addresses my question, so here goes.

I've researched the weather, blooming wildflowers, events, potential crowding and general atmosphere that would be connected with the RS Best of Ireland in 14 Days tours that are listed between 7/17 and 8/11 2022 and between 9/23 and 10/15 2022. All are indicated as having space available, i.e. "Sign Up." I've learned that my Travel Guard insurance voucher(s) from last year can be applied to any of these tours.

Truth be told, my first preference would be to go on one of the last 2 tours previously listed for 2021, between October 1 and October 16. TG has already verified that if I sign up for a 2022 tour and can get on a 2021 one, my insurance can be shifted to it.

I'm looking for your personal experiences with traveling, tour or not, in Ireland and/or Northern Ireland during these times of year. I don't expect anyone to have done it both mid-summer and early autumn. Any related comments will be much appreciated.

Posted by
4747 posts

With shortening daylight hours and declining weather, I wouldn’t head to Ireland after mid September. The weather so far this year has been nothing like average, so who knows what will happen later in the year - historical data isn’t very helpful at present. April was one of the frostiest and driest Aprils on record and May has been one of the coldest Mays on record, with many places having had a month’s worth of rain in the first week.

Many people are taking staycations this year, so places will be busier than normal.

Wild flowers are best May and June although there will be colour in the gardens until the first frosts, which should be into October.

Posted by
552 posts

The latest I've been in Ireland is mid-September. Daylight hours our noticeably shorter and the evenings are getting cooler. If this is your first visit to Ireland you might have a more enjoyable time in August and early September.

Posted by
1882 posts

Totally agree with previous post. Have been there in every month but January and if I had the choice between the August tour and the later one would definitely do August. Of course the weather is totally unpredictable. Enjoy your trip to a fantastic place.

Posted by
4970 posts

This is long, but: Our 2018 trip, not part of a tour, involved both the Republic and Northern Ireland, last half of September and first week of October. Draw a line between Dublin and Galway, and we drove a clockwise direction north of that line by rental car, plus had 2 nights on Inishmore.

Weather was mostly fair and pleasant, although we got some rain and wind. Never had all-day rain. We learned that violent, sign-destroying storms can arrive in Connemara in August, too! There was certainly greenery (did I mention rain?) on the Emerald Isle, but we weren’t exactly looking for wildflowers. One organized event of note, the Clifden Arts Festival, but also a weekend fair in Londonderry. It was all a wonderful trip, and things were open (except for a ferry that had shut down just the day before we tried to take it), yet clearly not overcrowded. Locations that match with Rick’s 14 day tour include:

Dublin-we were here at the end of our trip, not the start. Bring a jacket, but it doesn’t have to be a down parka. In the first week of October, Dublin was active, but not mobbed. Expect fellow tourists, but you won’t have to elbow your way through a crowd. Restaurants were busy in the evening, but we had no problem getting in - no wait. We got the last 2 slots in the last tour of the day at Kilmainham Gaol, so some popular sights might warrant checking and reserving ahead. Tickets at the Abbey Theatre for Richard III were easy to get after we arrived. We got seats at The Cobblestone for fabulous music sessions, although later arrivals had to stand.

Galway-started our trip here, after flying in to Dublin, that taking a mostly full bus cross country. The city was much less busy than our trip in mid-June a few years earlier, but certainly not dead. Our B&B was full at breakfast the first morning, but had a couple empty tables the next day. Restaurants were busy, but again, we didn’t have to wait or a table. Great music sessions in pubs here, too, in mid-Sept.

Inishmore-right after Galway, and rather than the ferry like an earlier June trip, we flew there. Unless you’re bringing bicycles like we did the time on the ferry, definitely go with the small airplane! It’s fast, and they can usually still fly when rough waters keep the ferries from going. The first day was marvelous weather, and we spent it on a van tour including Dun Aengus for a picnic outside, followed by an adventurous expedition hike to the Worm Hole. Second day was fierce wind and sideways rain, which tore up the beautiful flowers planted in front of our B&B. We spent the morning inside, although the weather cleared up and we took our afternoon flight back to the mainland as scheduled, while ferry passengers were still waiting to see if they could get off the island that day.

Clifden-with rental car, drove there after returning from Inishmore. Attended concert part of the local arts festival. Weather was generally pleasantly cool and sunny for driving to sights around Connemara, although we walked 4 blocks in the rain one night to dinner. We did the Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle, although storms from August had blown down some signs, making for a challenge finding the falconry center when walking through the wooded paths from the parking lot.

Working our way up and around the coast, staying several places in Connemara and Sligo Counties, and an afternoon stop in:

Londonderry (Derry)-There was an unexpected weekend festival downtown with food and music, which was fun in the afternoon. We continued that day to the northernmost part of our trip, to Dunfanaghy. The national forest there had great hikes, and basically no other people, so we pretty much had it to ourselves. (continued)

Posted by
4970 posts

. . . We’d wanted to take a ferry that supposedly ran through September, but after driving a fair distance and arriving at the port, it turns out they’d shut down on Sept. 29, so we took the now-even-longer route overland to Bushmills for a couple nights.

Our last day there, we drove a couple miles from the B&B to a parking lot, then hiked westward on a trail along the cliffs high above the Antrim Coast, to the Giant’s Causeway. The day started partly cloudy, then frightening high winds whipped up. We managed to not get blown over the edge, nor into the barbed wire fence that separated the trail from cattle on the other side. They didn’t seem to be troubled by the weather, and were probably used to it! Working our way down to sea level, there were lots of folks who’d gotten to the Causeway by other means, but again, not a huge mob. It started raining, light at first, then moderate. Folks left the wet Causeway, but the rain cleared by the time the shuttle bus got us back to our car.

We then drove to the Bushmills Distillery, but a large family had just arrived by two motorhomes, and they’d filled up the next whiskey tour. Rather than wait for an additional hour for the following tour, we headed east, having an outside picnic lunch at a table near the roadway, with a view of the:

Carrick-a-Rede bridge-We didn’t do that bridge, but had made reservations to do The Gobbins walking, closer to Belfast, later in the afternoon, and did that revived century old “extreme walk.”

Dublin-one last note, walking back to our apartment after the theater, passing through Temple Bar, it was packed with a younger, drunk crowd. So October did have one mob in one place. Avoid it late at night, where the sidewalks are wet with vomit and other bodily fluids.

Posted by
3525 posts

Thanks to y'all for the helpful responses. Based on them, I just signed up for the tour that runs Sunday, July 24, 2022 to Saturday, August 6, 2022. If all goes well, I'll be traveling solo with the single supplement.

Having said that, it is within the realm of possibility that I would switch to one of the 2021 October tours if that's possible. My travel wardrobe can handle the weather for either set of dates.

In either case I will arrive early in Dublin and hopefully stay at the tour hotel for a few nights before the tour starts. Likewise, I hope to stay a few nights after the tour ends in Belfast.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled to be able to make this trip, even if it will be 2 years later than originally planned and I'll be 2 years older.

Update: The summer dates are firm. I'll follow Belfast with a trip to Wales. The tour hotels seem to be much more expensive than when I reserved for May 2020. Unless things change, I'll be staying elsewhere definitely before going to the tour hotel in Dublin and possibly after it ends in
Belfast. I travel light, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Posted by
3209 posts

Back in 2010 we visited in early to mid-October and the weather was generally good, but we did need jackets along the coastal areas on most days and in the evening. There was some light rain on a couple days. Our itinerary (abbreviated here), we landed in Dublin, drove to Crawfordsburn, the Antrim coast, down to Galway, cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Kinsale, Cobh, Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny, Avoca, and Glendalough before returning to Dublin.

Posted by
9 posts

I enjoyed reading all the posts! I'm going Dublin-Drogheda-Armagh-Derry-Westport-Galway-Inishmore-Kilkenny-Dublin mid-September to early October. So looking forward to it. This is my 2nd trip to Ireland, but first time traveling solo.

Posted by
3525 posts

Thanks for the reminder. My CCs speak both EUR and GBP, as do my debit cards which I only use for getting cash overseas. I'll be going to Wales after the tour ends in Belfast, so they'll probably have more conversations in the latter than in the former.

Posted by
97 posts

Just be aware when you withdraw money in Northern Ireland it will be usually local Northern Irish banknotes whilst it is still British Pounds the Central Bank of the UK (Bank of England) allows 3 banks (used to be 4) in Northern Ireland to print their own banknotes these have different designs on them from the Normal bank of England banknotes (which you can of course use with no problems in Northern Ireland) so the banks that issue their own banknotes are Ulster Bank Bank of Ireland and Danske Bank and these circulate alongside the normal bank of England banknotes these can be used in the rest of the UK but to be on the safe side i would swap them at the bank to Bank of England banknotes to see what they look like click here
https://www.acbi.org.uk

the situation is the same in Scotland and occasionally you get Scottish notes just remember its all the same UK currency the Pound and worth the same as each other

Posted by
3525 posts

Thanks for the heads up on this and for the link. I bookmarked it and downloaded the pdfs with the pictures.

My last 2 trips I haven't used much cash at all and both my credit cards were replaced this spring with tap (touchless, rfid) ones. Should I plan on using cash more often than credit cards in Northern Ireland?

Posted by
97 posts

whilst you can use cards here np some places don't accept American cards (European cards are chip and pin) but in general you won't have trouble using it, but i would have cash on hand just in case for small purchases like lunch or coffee maybe have something like £40 in cash just in case