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Does it snow in Ireland? What to Expect from an Irish Winter!

If you’ve ever wondered, “Does it snow in Ireland?” then you’re in the right place! Perhaps you’re planning a winter trip to Ireland or you’re just curious.

Either way, let’s dive into the cool (and sometimes chilly) facts about snowfall in the Emerald Isle. As a local, I will fill you in on all there is to know about snowfall in Ireland.

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

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Weather in Ireland in the Winter Time

Well, winter in Ireland spans from December to February, and it’s usually a bit chilly, with average temperatures ranging from 4°C (39°F) to 7°C (45°F).

It’s also the time when we get the most rainfall. However, snow isn’t as common as you might think. Sure, we do get the occasional white blanket that transforms our lovely green landscapes into winter wonderland, but these instances are more exception than rule.

So, if you’re dreaming of a snow-white Irish winter, you might want to keep your fingers and toes crossed! It’s not impossible but it’s definitely not common.

But wait?! Does it Snow in Ireland at all?

Yes, it does snow in Ireland, but compared to some other European countries it is not very significant.

The snow usually only last for a day or two and then it disappears. We typically see snow in January or February and sometimes even in March.

Snow in Ireland tends to be 3/4 inches deep and only sticks around higher ground. If you happen to witness snow in an Irish city or on a coastline then you are in for a very unusual sight.

These areas can experience a light dusting but that is pretty much it. Other than that is just the country’s usual weather condition which is sadly rain.

These Are Most Likely Places to See Snowfall in Ireland

The most likely places to witness snowfall in Ireland are the northern and western regions. These regions have higher altitudes and can get quite nippy during the winter months.

County Donegal, for instance, often gets a good dusting of snow, transforming its rugged landscapes into a real-life snow globe. It’s one of my favourite spots for snowfall! However, snow in this part of the country is more likely in land area’s, rather than on the coast in places like Slieve League, one of the tallest sea cliffs in Ireland.

The Wicklow Mountains, just south of Dublin, also see a it’s fair share of snowfall each year. Places like, Glendalough and hidden gems such as Lough Ouler (Ireland’s heart shaped lake) look like a winter wonder land. As well as roads to close on the higher grounds. Particularly around the Sallys Gap area.

However, don’t let this deter you from planning out your Ireland itinerary, you are less likely to see snow in Dublin City or at famous attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Giants Causeway and other coastal regions, you might only see a light sprinkling.

These Are the Best Months for Snow in Ireland

Snow in Ireland is most likely to occur during the winter months, specifically from December through February. However, the exact timing can vary each year, sometimes starting as early as November or lasting until March.

Each day is a bit of a surprise during the winter season, you might wake up to a snow-covered landscape, or a rainy day.

It’s Ireland’s unpredictable weather that adds to its charm!

Snow in Ireland - Glendalough County Wicklow
Snow in Ireland – Glendalough County Wicklow

How Often Does Ireland Get Snow?

The is no way of predicting how often it will snow in Ireland. Each year is different and equally unpredictable. That’s what makes snow days extra fun because you never really know when they may arrive.

How much snow is Ireland likely to get in one day?

On an average snowy day in Ireland, the amount of snow isn’t really that much. In fact, it’s usually just a light dusting that covers everything with a thin white blanket.

On rare occasions, Ireland might see a heavier snowfall, but that doesn’t happen too often. Even when it does, it’s usually just a few inches at most.

It also only tends to stick around for a day or two. Just enough time to enjoy it 😉

The Award For the Place with the Most Snow in Ireland Goes to Wicklow!

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Emerald Isle under a blanket of white, your best bet would be to visit Wicklow. Nestled in the east of Ireland, Wicklow is known for its breathtaking landscapes and, when it comes to snow, it certainly doesn’t disappoint!

Thanks to its mountainous terrain, Wicklow often receives more snow than other parts of the country. So, if you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland, Wicklow could be your perfect destination!

Just be careful as the roads can be extremely dangerous in heavy snowfall. I recommend checking the conditions before attempting to drive. A 4×4 is recommended.

These are the Least Likely Places to See Snow in Ireland

If you’d rather avoid the snow while visiting Ireland, you might want to stick to the coastal areas. Counties like Kerry and Cork, located in the southwest, usually see less snowfall, thanks to their maritime climate.

Remember, Irish weather can be unpredictable. So, even in these areas, there’s always a chance you might wake up to a light dusting of snow. But, that is really unlikely.

What happens when it snows in Ireland?

I am not going to lie, when it snows in Ireland the whole country comes to a standstill. We are not very equipped for extreme winter weather and clearing the roads and streets becomes a rather difficult task.

However, the snow brings a sense of joy and wonder to the Irish people. Children rush outside to build snowmen and have snowball fights while adults wrap up warm and enjoy hot drinks by the fire.

It may not last long, but there’s something magical about experiencing a snowy day in Ireland. So, if you do happen to catch a rare snowfall during your visit cherish it!

Things to do in the snow in Ireland?

When it snows in Ireland, you’ll find a bunch of fun things to do. Locals typically go sledging down the countryside hills. Or, spend some time building a snowman with their kids.

Ice skating is another fun choice, with some places setting up outdoor rinks when the weather allows.

And after a day out in the cold, nothing beats warming up in a cosy Irish pub, sipping on a hot chocolate or a glass of whiskey.

But remember, the best part is simply soaking up the beautiful snowy scenery. The entire landscape transforms, making Ireland’s already stunning views even more spectacular.

The Reason For Little Snow in Ireland

The rarity of snow in Ireland can be traced back to its climate. Ireland has a temperate maritime climate, which means it doesn’t experience extreme temperatures.

The Atlantic Ocean, along with the Gulf Stream, play a big role here. They keep the winters relatively mild, hence snowfall is not a common occurrence.

However, weather can be unpredictable, and every once in a while, the Irish skies do surprise us with a blanket of white.

The Beast From the East & Storm Emma

Ireland’s most memorable snowfall events in recent history would have to be the “Beast from the East” in 2010 and Storm Emma in 2018.

Now, you might wonder, why were they so special. Well, during the “Beast from the East”, Ireland was hit with more snow than it had seen in decades. The streets turned into a winter fairy tale, with snowdrifts reaching knee-height! It was quite an experience. This was before ‘Working From Home’ was a big thing and the entire country shut down for basically a week. Adults even joined the kids in the biggest snow event the country had ever seen.

Jumping forward to 2018, Storm Emma brought along not just heavy snow, but also intense wind gusts. This combination created blizzard-like conditions, which are not common in Ireland at all. So, while snow may be a rarity in Ireland when it does come, it sure knows how to make an entrance!

Stone welcoming to the village of Dun Luiche in gaelic - Translation: Dunlewey

Winter in Ireland – Things to see and do

While getting a snowy experience while visiting Ireland in the winter months is unlikely. One thing is for certain you will not be short of things to do! I have highlighted down below some of my favourites.

Things to do in the Winter in Dublin

Even without the snow, winter in Dublin has its own unique charm! You can wrap up warm and go for a bracing walk along the River Liffey, visit the cosy pubs with roaring fires, or enjoy a hot chocolate in one of Dublin’s many charming cafes.

The city lights up during the holiday season too, and it’s a sight to behold.

Here’s a list of some must-do activities in Dublin during winter:

  1. Stroll through Phoenix Park: Covered with frost, the park becomes a beautiful, serene place, perfect for a winter walk.
  2. Visit the National Gallery: If the weather’s a bit too cold for comfort, you could always escape into the warm and explore the country’s rich culture and art.
  3. Experience the Christmas Markets: Dublin has some great Christmas markets where you can find unique gifts, delicious food, and maybe even a carol concert.
  4. Join a Pub Crawl: Dublin’s pub culture is world-renowned. Joining a pub crawl can be a great way to meet new people, enjoy some traditional Irish music, and warm up from the inside!
  5. The Panto: Experience a classic Dublin tradition – the Christmas Pantomime (‘Panto’). With music, humour, and lots of audience participation, it’s guaranteed to leave you in high spirits!

Things to do in the Winter in Galway

  1. Galway Christmas Market: Imagine streets filled with twinkling lights, the scent of mulled wine, and the sound of holiday jingles. That’s right, the Galway Christmas Market is a must! With a variety of stalls, it’s a festive treat for all ages.
  2. Walk the Salthill Promenade: For a refreshing walk, the Salthill Promenade is perfect. Wrap up warm, enjoy the ocean views, and maybe even stop for a coffee at a cosy café.
  3. Explore Connemara National Park: Winter transforms Connemara National Park into a magical landscape. Don’t forget your camera, you’ll want to capture the beauty!
  4. Visit Galway City Museum: A great option for a colder day. Learn about Galway’s rich history and culture in this interesting and well-curated museum.
  5. Attend a Show at the Druid Theatre: They always put on fantastic shows, and winter is no exception. It’s the perfect way to spend an evening in Galway.

Things to do in Winter in Cork

  1. Visit the English Market: It’s a local favourite! Step into a world of fresh produce, mouth-watering food, and friendly faces. Perfect for picking up a hot drink and a tasty snack on a cold winter day.
  2. Explore Fitzgerald Park: Even in winter, this park is just lovely. Wrap up warm and take a leisurely stroll. You’ll find a museum and a café here too!
  3. Go to a Concert at Live at St. Luke’s: This converted church offers a unique setting for concerts. Check out their lineup, there might be something you like!
  4. Take a Cork Harbour Boat Tour: See Cork from a different perspective. Yes, it might be chilly, but the views are worth it!
  5. Tour the Jameson Distillery: Whiskey lovers, this is for you. Discover how Jameson is made, and finish with a tasty sample. It’s a fun and informative way to spend a winter’s afternoon in Cork.
Custom House Quay, Dublin, Ireland in Snow

Packing for winter in Ireland (& Possible Snowfall)

If you’re packing for winter in Ireland, you’ll want to bring warm clothes. Think cosy sweaters, long pants, and a good winter jacket.

Don’t forget your scarves, gloves and hats either, as they can make a big difference in keeping you warm. It’s also a good idea to pack waterproof boots. Even if it doesn’t snow a lot, Ireland is famous for its rainy weather.

So, those boots can keep your feet dry while you’re exploring the beautiful landscapes or bustling city streets. And remember, layers are your best friend. They’ll allow you to stay warm outdoors, but also let you cool down once you get indoors where it’s usually nicely heated.

Check out my Ireland Packing List for a more detailed guide!

What are the average temperatures in Ireland in the winter months?

In Ireland, winter months can be pretty chilly, but it’s generally not extreme. The average temperature tends to hover around 4-6 degrees Celsius (about 39-43 degrees Fahrenheit).

You’ll want to pack a warm coat, gloves, and a hat. Don’t forget your umbrella too, as winter is also a wet season in Ireland.

But remember, the cool winter weather can’t take away from the charm and beauty of Ireland. Every season has its own appeal here, and the winter is no exception.

What time does it get dark in the Winter Months in Ireland?

In winter, Ireland’s days are a bit shorter. Darkness tends to roll in around 4:30 PM, give or take a bit depending on the specific month and location in Ireland.

But hey, don’t let the early sunset put you off! There’s a certain magic to the twinkling city lights and the cosy pub interiors.

So, grab your coat and go enjoy all the wonderful winter vibes that Ireland has to offer!

Should I visit Ireland in the Winter?

Absolutely! Visiting Ireland in winter can be a magical experience. Sure, it’s a bit colder and the days are shorter, but there’s something special about Ireland in the winter months.

The landscapes take on a different beauty, the cities light up with holiday cheer, and there’s always a warm pub to welcome you in from the cold.

Plus, winter is off-peak tourist season, so you’ll deal with fewer crowds. So bundle up, come on over, and discover the charm of Ireland in winter!

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