The Sunny Southeast – Home of the Best Irish Summers

An Irish summer offers mystery and intrigue. It comes and goes on a whim, leaving us with a frequently disappointing on-again, off-again relationship with good weather. It literally blows hot and cold, often on the same day.

Rosslare Strand, County Wexford

But one corner of Ireland does have a corner on summer. The sunny southeast, as it’s known, is where you are most likely to enjoy sun and surf. Your odds of a rain-free barbecue are highest here, but it would still be madness to plan a picnic or outdoor wedding without a Plan B. Where is this gem? It’s counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. And it is full of beautiful places, including castles, heritage parks, beaches and stunning scenery. This is where you’ll see some of the images featured on many Irish gifts. Here are some of our favorite things about each of the counties in Ireland’s sunny southeast.

County Carlow
Blackstairs Mountains, County Carlow

If beaches aren’t your thing and you want to explore off the beaten track, Carlow is an underrated gem. Rich in lush scenery that ranges from the Blackstairs Mountains to the River Barrow to rolling farmlands and quaint towns, Carlow is classic rural Ireland. Browne’s Hill dolman is an ancient site near the bustling, modern Carlow town.

County Kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle on the River Nore

If it does rain, you can pop into what is arguably Ireland’s best-preserved castle and see how royalty once lived. Kilkenny Castle sits in the center of town surrounded by beautiful gardens with the River Nore flowing past. It’s an ideal place to stop for a few hours if you are driving from Dublin to destinations further south, see the sites, have something to eat and maybe pick up some Irish gifts.

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County Tipperary
Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

It’s not actually that long a drive. This island isn’t that big after all. And it is well worth making the trek from Dublin to see the famous Rock of Cashel. No mere rock, this fortress was once home to kings and queens. Today, the round tower still stands along with the remains of an abbey and a stunning Romanesque chapel that dates back to the 12th century.

County Waterford
Dunmore East, County Waterford

Waterford is one of Ireland’s most beloved counties for a day of sand and surf. Irish families love staycations at Tramore and, Dunmore East, and these little beach towns cater to them with plenty for children to do. Waterford was a Viking town, and this little city features the best-preserved old city walls in the Republic. (Derry is hands-down the winner for best ancient city walls.)

County Waterford
National Heritage Park, County Wexford

Wexford is home to Ireland’s biggest heritage park, where you can stroll through 35 acres of history. It’s a fantastic day out for families but it isn’t just a children’s destination. The park is a brilliant way to learn about how our ancestors lived and see their world and what inspired the designs on so many Irish gifts.

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The amount of historic sites and sumptuous scenery this small island offers is amazing. The most famous destinations have earned their popularity, but they aren’t all that Ireland offers.