It's said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney rings true. The Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, the country's history is almost tangible, and its people seem put on earth expressly to restore faith in humanity.
The weather may sometimes give you the impression that you're swimming through an airborne ocean, but the truly luminous greens, luxuriant wildflowers, and afternoons spent holed up in riotous pubs will more than console you for the webbed feet you'll need to grow.
If you go to Ireland in July or August, you can expect reasonably warm weather, longer days and a lively menu of festivals. However, this is peak season, which presents some challenges if you're wanting a bit of solitude.
Spring and autumn can also be delightful seasons, with smaller crowds of tourists. Winter weather can be downright inhospitable, but Ireland (the west coast in particular) does look beautiful in the rain, and there's nearly always a pub nearby to duck into. However, in many Irish towns restaurants and B&Bs close down around October and don't reopen until Easter. With a few advance phone calls you can avoid getting stranded somewhere with no place to sleep or eat.
Despite its northern latitude, Ireland's climate is moderated by the Gulf Stream, bringing the dregs of Caribbean balminess, as well as turtles and triggerfish. The temperature only drops below freezing intermittently during the winter and snow is scarce. Summers aren't really that hot, rarely hitting 30° C (86° F), but it stays light until around 23:00 . Whatever the time of year, be prepared for rain because Ireland is wet . The heaviest rain usually falls where the scenery is best: luscious County Kerry can be drizzle-bound on as many as 270 days of the year. If you do find the rain getting you down you might find some comfort in the Irish saying: 'It doesn't rain in the pub'!
Religion has always been Ireland's meat and drink, and there are an abundance of sacred sites, from stone circles and dolmens to 1000-year-old early Christian churches. Castles, forts, musuems and mansions, many with exquisite gardens, dot the countryside.