Visiting Ireland in May 2020: A Locals Guide on What to Expect

The weather, what to wear, and things to do

Cafe at ladies view kerry
Photo via Ladies View Cafe

If you’re debating visiting Ireland in May, but you’re feeling a little unsure about what this month brings, keep reading.

You’ll find everything that you need to know about May in Ireland below.

The good (there’s plenty), the bad (not much), and the ugly (very little).

May, along with September and October, is one of my favourite months to explore Ireland.

Why? Well, there are HEAPS of pros to exploring Ireland in May and only a few cons!

What you’ll get from reading this guide

  • Honest no-BS advice on what it’s like to visit in May 
  • A guide to the weather in Ireland in May
  • What to wear and pack
  • Advice on things to do

Planning a trip to Ireland? Make sure you dive into our detailed guide to planning your perfect Ireland itinerary.

Would I visit Ireland in May: A no-BS answer

visit Ireland in May
More by the brilliant Gareth Wray

I would absolutely visit Ireland in May.

My birthday falls at the beginning of May, so I tend to head away for a couple of nights on the weekend that follows it.

I’ve been to Cork, Mayo, Antrim, and Galway in May over the past 4 years, and had great weather each and every time. 

Last year, when we visited Cork, a couple of us got sunburn on a walk around the Old Head of Kinsale. 

What I love about May in Ireland:

  • The weather tends to be OK (but rain is always a possibility)
  • The days are nice and long (sunrise is ar around 05:15 and sunset is around 09:15 in the middle of the month)
  • Crowds have yet to reach summer peak
mount brandon
Photo by Amy Nelson (Roaring Jellyfish Designs) via Creative Commons

Is May a good time to go to Ireland?

May in Ireland, as is the case with every other month, has its pros and cons. Unlike the winter months, there’s plenty more pros than there is cons.

The pros 

  • The weather tends to be good (more on this in a sec)
  • The days are long
  • May tends to have its fair share of festivals
  • Parks open nice and late

The cons

  • Accommodation and flights costs will be near peak level
  • Crowds will have increased rapidly from the end of spring
weather in Ireland in May
Photo by Emma McArdle

The weather in Ireland in May: What to expect

The weather in Ireland in May tends to be quite good. Temperatures range from highs and lows of 15 degrees Celsius and 7 degrees Celsius. However, we’ve had much warmer and much colder weather in May in years gone.

2019 was up and down

  • The last week in April was grand and hot, but this didn’t continue into the first few weeks of May
  • The May Bank Holiday weekend was chill but dry
  • The second and third week of the month was nice and warm, with average temperatures of 18°

2018 was HOT

  • May was hotter and drier than many years previous, according to forecasters
  • Some parts of Ireland had their lowest rainfall for that May since 1991
  • Nearly all the weather stations around the country reported below long term average rainfall for last month but there were a few exceptions
  • The month’s highest temperature levels were recorded at Shannon Airport when the mercury hit 26.3C

Average Temperature in Ireland in May

The average temperature in Ireland in May, based on the last five years, is 14°C. We’ve seen this vary hugely, so you need to be prepared for all types of weather and temperatures.

Ballymastocker Bay Donegal
Photo by Martin Flemming

What to Wear in Ireland in May

What to Wear in Ireland in May
Photo by Martin Flemming

If you’re scratching your head and trying to figure out what to pack for Ireland in May, then the below should help.

The best piece of advice that I can give you is to pack for sun AND rain. Here’s some more advice:

  • Keep an eye on the 10-day weather forecast so you have an idea of what weather to expect
  • Pack for warm dry weather and rain… definitely pack for rain

Layers are your friends in Ireland.

What to pack for Ireland in May

The view from Diamond Hill Connemara
Photo by Gareth McCormack

If you read our guide to Ireland in October, you’ll have heard me say this already.

What you pack for Ireland in May will depend hugely on the type of holiday you have planned.

Those visiting for an active holiday

If you’re visiting Ireland for an active holiday where you’ll be exploring on foot or by bike, you’ll need:

  • Some decent hiking/walking footwear
  • A light waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Appropriate layers that you can remove or put on if it gets too hot/cold

Those visiting on a city break

If you’re just planning on sauntering around one of Ireland’s cities for a few days, bring:

  • Layers (again, I know)
  • A light waterproof jacket
  • Casual clothes for evening wear (shirt/polo-shirt and jeans/chinos are all appropriate ‘going-out wear’ in Ireland)
the waterford greenway
Photo by Luke Myers

Things to do in Ireland in May 2020

  1. Make the most of the weather and head for a hike or a long walk
  2. Take a spin out to Limerick for the Riverfest festival (May 1st-4th)
  3. Make the most of the long days and spend a few days on a road trip
  4. Go to the Galway Theatre Festival (May 9th)
  5. Try your had at a bit of camping (Wicklow’s a solid option for this)
  6. Take a trip to the Uisneach Bealtaine Fire Celebration in Meath (May 9th)

There really is no end to the variety of things to do in Ireland in May.

The beauty of the longer days means that you can explore around you from the early hours until late in the evening, which makes all the difference. Visit our guide to Ireland’s counties – you can explore the best things to do in every county in Ireland.

Here are some ideas for those that need inspiration.

Spin along the Wild Atlantic Way

toe head west cork
Photo by George Karbu (George Karbus Photography) via Failte Ireland

You can’t bate a road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way, regardless of what time of the year it is.

May is the perfect time for a lengthy road trip, however, thanks to long days and warmer drier weather.

There’s a tonne of different routes that you can take if you’re looking to explore this part of Ireland.

Here’s a full guide on 50+ things to do on the Wild Atlantic Way that you can use.

Hikes and walks

sugarloaf mountain wicklow
Via Failte Ireland

If you’re looking for things to do in May look no further than the islands endless mountain ranges and national parks.

Places like Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland, and Donegal are home to ample hiking and walking opportunities that you can dive into.

There’s something that’ll cater to every fitness level!

Here are some suggestions of hikes and walks to do:

  • Conquer Cuilcagh Mountain
  • Walk the Wicklow Way
  • Climb Slieve Bloom
  • Take a wander up Torc Mountain

There are loads more things to do

geokaun mountains ireland
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

If you’re visiting in May and are in need of more inspiration, jump into our guide to the counties of Ireland.

Here, you’ll find something to do in each of Ireland’s counties.

Wrapping it up: Should you visit in May?

May is a great time to visit Ireland. The weather is usually good, the crowds won’t have reached peak levels, and there’s an endless number of things to do and places to visit.

Have a question about planning a trip to Ireland? Give me a shout in the comments below!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

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