But the Irish weather is even more mystifying — to meteorologists, and especially holidaymakers. What else can you say about a country where you can get sunburnt in a shower of hailstones in July?
When the weather’s good, however, the holidays are great. And increasing numbers of Irish people are looking at short breaks and staycations at home. May is a plum time for special offers — check sites like discoverireland.ie, irelandhotels.com, bandbireland.com and lidl-breaks.ie for a sample.
Here’s ten of the best.
Air doesn’t get much fresher than on the Blasket Islands, those beautiful patches of wilderness punching up out of the Atlantic Ocean off the Dingle Peninsula. A two-night package with An Riasc B&B near Dingle includes a ferry ticket to the islands, plus a complimentary picnic to enjoy in the wild. There’s also a four-course meal on the evening of your choice, a complimentary glass of wine, and a home-cooked breakfast every morning — from €145pps.
Details: 066 915-5446; anriasc.ie.
If you like your holidays with a dash of pig racing, treasure hunting, vintage car runs and sandcastle competitions, then the jam-packed programme at Rosscarbery’s Family Festival (August 10-19) could be just the ticket. The Celtic Ross Hotel has five nights B&B plus two evening meals for two adults sharing with kids under 12 staying free, for a total of €649.
Details: 023-8848722; celticrosshotel.com.
The four-star holiday homes at Banna Beach Resort are new to Dream Ireland this year. Located at Ardfert, near Tralee, the holiday homes are a 15-minute walk or two minute drive to the long, sandy beach at Banna, and there’s a fallback of a leisure centre and pool if the weather turns nasty. Going to press, early booking discounts were quoted at €499 for a week from June 16-23, rising to €849 from July 14-21.
Details: 064-6641170; dreamireland.com.
Marlfield House in Gorey and Monart Destination Spa in Enniscorthy are both running sumptuous special offers. Why not combine both for a luxury layover in the sunny southeast? Marlfield has a gourmet weekend including a three-course supper on Friday and a five-course table d’hôte on Saturday at €311pp in a classic room. At Monart, two nights’ B&B with one dinner and a summer blitz spa programme is available for €345pp.
Details: 053-9421124; marlfieldhouse.com and 053-9238999; monart.ie.
Think of Meath, and ancient hills and passage tombs come to mind. But the Royal County has its stretch of coastline too, running through Laytown and Bettystown just north of Dublin. In the latter, Liz and Roger Pickett keep several little thatched cottages in a gated compound with its own beach access — good for families with young kids. A play area, barbecues and apple trees complete the unlikely oasis, where a special offer has seven nights with five family passes for nearby Dublin Zoo at €1,800 up to July 21.
Details: 041-9828104; cottages-ireland.com.
What exactly is a boutique farmhouse? Visit The Inn at Ballilogue Clochán, a farmhouse and outbuildings lovingly restored by former fashion designer Pat McCarthy near Inistioge, and you’ll find out. The country retreat offers four rooms en suite in the main house, and two in an adjoining building, all with hotel-standard bathrooms. Guests can book individual rooms from €60pp to €95pp, or a family or group of friends can book out the entire property.
Details: 051-423857; ballilogueclochan.com.
Self-catering gives you your own house on holiday, but self-catering on a hotel estate throws in the safety net of extra services too. At Waterford Castle, those services start with your very own private island. Seven nights in a three-bed garden lodge are priced from €849, and guests are free to relax in the bar, clubhouse or restaurant in the castle itself. Nature trails, a playground, tennis courts and a summer club should keep the kids happy, and adults can escape on the 18-hole golf course or clay-pigeon shooting range, before taking the family on a tour of the sunny southeast.
Details: 051-878203; waterfordcastle.com.
Camping is one of the most budget-friendly staycations on offer — with rates at Sexton’s Camping and Caravan Park in Cork starting from €24 per night for a family of two adults and up to three children.That rate includes electricity and showers, and guests can avail of some smart special offers too, including two hours of sea-kayaking, surfing or coasteering with G-town Surf School at €75 for two adults and two kids. Another, with Courtmacsherry Angling Centre, gives four hours boat hire in self-drive crafts for a family rate of €50. The specials are available in May and June. Check out more summer offers on the Irish Caravan & Camping Council’s website at camping-ireland.ie.
Details: 087-2208088; sextonscamping.com.
Ireland would be the perfect summer holiday spot, if only we could roof it. In the absence of that option, however, Fota Island Resort has come up with a creative alternative — a cosy package delivering a homemade picnic in the comfort of your very own room. The two-night picnic package costs from €340 per couple. If you fancy a longer stay, Fota’s two, three and four-bed lodges start from €928.55 for seven nights in July and August.
Details: 021-4883700; fotaisland.ie.
Single supplements are the bane of solo travellers, but it is possible to bag a break without paying over the odds simply because you want a room of your own. The Blue Book’s Longueville House in Mallow has specials in its Queen Room, with two nights B&B and two dinners starting at €265 for single occupancy in May. Currarevagh House, set on the shores of Lough Corrib in Connemara, has a three-night summer special from €225 in a single room. Or what about the Morrison Room at Ballyfin Demesne in Co. Laois? The sumptuous single overlooks the five-star’s pleasure grounds. Expect full-blown luxury here, with full-board starting from an eye-watering €600 per night.
Details: longuevillehouse.ie; currarevagh.com; ballyfin.com.
NB: All prices correct going to press, but subject to availability.