The Republic of Ireland, often called Eire, is the largest portion of the island lying to the west of Great Britain between the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea (the northeastern corner of the island is occupied by Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom).
It shares with the rest of the British Isles a mild, changeable climate with very rare extremes of heat or cold. Ireland is even more influenced by the warm waters of the North Atlantic than England and, consequently, its climate is a little wetter the year round, milder in winter and cooler and cloudier in summer.
This mild, rainy climate is particularly favourable to the growth of grass and moss and for this reason Ireland has been called the 'Emerald Isle'.
The driest parts of the country are the east and south (see the tables for Dublin and Cork). The east and the interior (see the table for Mullingar) have slightly warmer summers and cooler winters. The west coast is more influenced by the Atlantic and is both wetter and cloudier with particularly mild winters (see the table for Valencia Island).
Differences of weather and climate, however, are relatively small throughout the country. Snow is very rare along the west and south coasts but occurs on a few days a year in the east and on the mountains. Although there are numerous mountain ranges in Ireland, few of these exceed 800 m/2,600 ft and even at these heights snow does not lie for long.
In the wetter west of the country rain is frequent but on many days it is very light and in the form of drizzle. The sunniest parts of the country are the east and south coasts, with sunshine hours averaging from two a day in winter to six in midsummer.
Over most of Ireland spring is the driest time of the year and May is the sunniest month. Except in the extreme east around Dublin, autumn and winter are the wettest seasons. Occasional severe weather in winter takes two forms: storms and gales which particularly affect the west; and rare spells with frost and snow when cold easterly or northerly winds bring severe weather to the whole British Isles.
For Northern Ireland, see the table for Belfast.
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