How to have an awesome Irish summer holiday

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Misht

1. Don’t check the weather

About two days before you’re due to go on your holiday, the sun will be splitting the rocks at your chosen destination. Your friends/colleagues/Airbnb host will say these very words and congratulate you on how you’ve picked “the right week” and you’ll feel all smug and self-satisfied, as though you hold the secret to cheating the Irish weather system. Listen to me: you don’t and you never will. Check the weather for the next week all you like, it doesn’t mean shit. The only thing that you can predict with any certainty is that the weather will be the weather-iest. Accept this fact and that when you arrive at your holiday house (in July), you’ll have to put the heating on, “just to take the dampness out of the air.”

2. Pack all the things 

Forget all those articles about being minimalist and packing just a carry-on. You are not going on a Ryanair flight to guaranteed-heat Spain. You need to pack for all eventualities, especially the eventuality of rain. Sure, you’ll feel silly packing shorts and vest tops and jeans and jumpers and boots and flip flops but you will wear all of them, possibly all on the same day. If you choose to ignore this advice and pack only light, summer-y things then know that this can only end in one way: socks and sandals. 

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Boone, wearing all my clothes, and me, wearing none

3. Be sceptical about opening hours for local attractions

There’ll be one day when it rains so hard and so relentlessly that a) you’ll regret having ever thought it was a good idea to have your summer holidays in Ireland and b) you’ll think that it’s the perfect time to go visit the one local attraction you had designated as the rainy day option. This one local attraction will be closed. To compensate, you’ll go on a long scenic drive and stop at beautiful scenic lookout points, except you won’t be able to see any of the beauty because, rain. So, sit in the car and read the Sunday papers and eat flabby sandwiches instead, then head back to the holiday house and relish the afternoon of DVDs that follows.

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4. Support local businesses

Whenever you get a bit peckish, you can always go to the local shop, which is a lot like stepping into Ireland circa 1962. Remember, its charm lies in the very specificity of its local shop-ness. There will be that local shop smell: gone off milk, the plastic wrappers on rashers, stinginess. It will be poorly stocked with faded tat and melt-y looking chocolate bars and it will be manned by its owner who’s nice but a tiny bit surly and also possibly bitter. The only music playing will be the humming of cranky old fridges. And, it’ll be quite dark. Charm. It’s good for not entirely frozen ice-pops and 99s, if you’re brave.

If you want to get all fancy, you’ll do as the locals do and drive over to the next village where there will be a proper chain supermarket, where you can buy everything you need and nice things, too, in bright, clean surroundings and you’ll wonder how the local shop has survived.

For evening entertainment, there are the two village pubs. One of them is a den of inequity. The other is family-friendly and has decent-ish food. Have fun figuring out which one is which.

5. Go to the beach

If the weather’s good, go to the beach. If the weather’s bad, go to the beach. Either way, go for a swim of six strokes in lung-busting cold. The invigoration really is worth it.

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Windswept

6. Put on sunscreen

Just when you get really sick of the wind and the rain, the sun will come out and you’ll say that life is so good! and I’m so lucky! and I feel like I’m in a different country! That’s because you are in a different country – it’s called Ireland in the sunshine and it’s a rare and beautiful thing. You’ll be fooled into thinking that the normal rules of sun protection don’t apply but they do. While you diligently cover every inch of your never-seen-the-light-of-day Irish skin with factor 50 when you’re on a proper sun holiday, in Ireland, you reluctantly put a bit of factor 20 on your face (aging) and your shoulders (“they burn easily”) but nothing on your legs (“they never burn!”). Then you’ll go and sit cross-legged on the beach, lost in a bliss of sunshine and a book for hours on end. Eventually, you’ll think to put some sunscreen on but it’s too late, the searing strips of sunburn have already started to tingle. Your mind will go into its usual deluded hope that it’ll  turn into a tan. It won’t. Ever. Trust me, you’re not jinxing the weather by applying sunscreen everywhere, every day, especially on your legs, as they will never, ever tan. Ever.

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Ready for searing

7. Lower your expectations

Maybe lower them a bit more. There! It’s going to be awesome.

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Made me laugh

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