Ireland in September can be a great time to visit, especially since the days are still long, the weather is relatively mild and there are festivals galore to enjoy.
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Here is a list of the 20 best things to do in Ireland in September that are worth checking out.
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, Sept. 2nd – 30th
This iconic matchmaking event has been a tradition in the small town of Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, for at least 150 years, and today, it draws at least 40,000 people looking for love or maybe just a bit of Irish “craic.”
Back in the day, it was difficult for farmers to meet the right woman and so a local matchmaker decided to step in and create an opportunity for them.
Willie Daly is the town’s resident third-generation matchmaker following in the steps of his father and grandfather.
You’ll find him making suitable matches in the town’s Matchmaker Bar.
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is considered Europe’s largest singles event, with music in all the local pubs every weekend during the month.
Previous years’ events have included marquee country music entertainment, but it appears that these events have been postponed until 2023.
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The Clifden Community Arts Festival, Sept. 15th – 25th
If you’re looking for an excuse to explore the beautiful Connemara region of County Galway from Sept. 15th through the 25th, why not check out this enjoyable community arts festival that takes place in Clifden, the most western part of the county?
Now in its 45th year, the festival includes a great selection of events that cover theater, dance, poetry, music, and art.
In fact, there’s something for everyone at this popular annual event.
Some of this year’s featured events include a performance by the classical guitarist John Feely Frank O’Rourke; “An Eye Below Zero with Doug Allan,” featuring some of the filmmaker’s undersea clips; a performance by Irish country music sensation Mike Denver; “The Road to Riverdance,” and a conversation with Margaret Atwood, the author of “The Handmaid's Tale,” among other novels.
Be sure to hang around for the Grand Parade and fireworks at the end of the week on Sept. 24th.
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The Dingle Food Festival, Sept. 29th – Oct. 1st
The town of Dingle is a great spot to visit any time of year but over the last weekend in September and into October, it’s a hive of activity and awash with delicious food.
Locals call The Dingle Food Festival the best weekend of the year, with cookery demonstrations, over 50 market stalls, workshops, wine tastings, street entertainment, children’s events, and a food trail among the many things to do in the town.
A book of tickets will get you into over 70 venues around the town.
Read More: Exploring the Dingle Peninsula Without the Funny-Loving Dolphin Fungie
The Armagh Food and Cider Weekend, Sept. 8 – 11th
County Antrim is known as Orchard County and so it’s no surprise that one of its most popular events is The Armagh Food and Cider Weekend.
But it’s not just about apples and cider. There’s also a range of food-related events to enjoy over what promises to be a fun weekend.
Some of the cool events you can sign up for include a garden party at a stunning Georgian mansion in the County Armagh countryside; a woodland supper that takes place on the edge of Gosford Forest Park, a food and cider walking tour beginning at the Charlemont Arms Hotel in Armagh City, among many other exciting events.
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Galway International Oyster Festival, Sept. 23rd – 25th
Seafood is the central focus of this popular event, but you don’t have to be an oyster lover to enjoy the Galway International Oyster Festival.
The main event is the National Oyster Opening Championship, which takes place on opening night.
That’s when competitors vie for the chance to win the Irish Oyster Opening Cup by becoming the fastest person to open 30 oysters and present them to the judges.
The winner qualifies for a spot in the world competition, which takes place the next day.
The Mardi Gras Gala is another popular highlight of the festival, as is the free Féile Bia Na Mara bash on Sunday, Sept. 25th, where you can enjoy cooking demos, live music, and free tastings.
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Waterford Harvest Festival, Sept. 10th – 11th
Local food is at the heart of the Waterford Harvest Festival, including the traditional Waterford blaas, an authentic Irish roll recipe that is unique to this part of Ireland.
But there’s a lot more on offer at this fun food festival, including cooking demos, harvest suppers, and more.
So, be sure to check it out if you're visiting Ireland's sunny southeast.
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Dublin Fringe Festival, Sept. 10th – 25th
The Dublin Fringe Festival attracts up to 30,000 people each year and this year, 430 artists are set to entertain audiences for 16 days in various venues across Dublin, including entertainment in the form of dance, theater, live art, visual art, and music.
Check out all of the various performers on the festival website.
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Inishbofin Tidings Storytelling Festival, Sept. 9th – 11th
Inishbofin isn’t as familiar to visitors as its neighbor, the Aran Islands, but it is just as beautiful and this year, the island is playing host to the first Inishbofin Tidings Storytelling Festival.
Over two days, you can enjoy a program that includes storytelling-related events, workshops, and theater that is suitable for both adults and children.
Harvest Festival, Ulster Folk Museum, Sept. 25th (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Immerse yourself in Ireland's old harvest traditions at the Ulster Folk Museum’s Harvest Festival by watching traditional plowing techniques in this living museum’s fields, as well as other activities.
They include picking your own apples from the orchard and getting involved in harvest-themed craft stations located throughout the attraction, which is set on over 170 acres of rolling countryside that overlooks Belfast Lough.
Enjoy demonstrations like butter making and jam-making and then sample some of the soda bread on offer.
Folk music, traditional games, and other harvest traditions will be available for all to enjoy.
Take a Hike and See Some Awesome Scenery from The Caves of Kesh
September is still a great month in Ireland for hiking and this hike, in particular, is well worth the effort.
Archaeologists say that the Caves of Kesh in County Sligo are older than the Egyptian pyramids based on research that was conducted in the early 20th century when animal bones were found dating from the Ice Age.
The caves overlook the village of Keash, not far from the town of Ballymote.
If you want to explore this area on your own, you can park your car at the bottom and then make your way up to the caves, some of which are pretty deep. Be sure to wear the proper footwear.
You can also take a tour from the visitor center at The Fox's Den in Keash.
Guided tours are offered twice a day from April through September and once a day for the rest of the year, weather permitting.
Once you get there, be sure to take plenty of Instagrammable-worthy photos from this spectacular spot.
See Rare First-Edition Books in this Wicklow Restaurant
While most restaurants are simply places to relax and have a bite, there’s one really cool eatery tucked away in the heart of the County Wicklow countryside that holds a surprising collection of books.
The Irish Writers Room at the Wicklow Heather Restaurant & House contains first editions of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (still in its original wrapping), along with an original program from the world premiere of Oscar Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Ernest,” among other treasures.
The restaurant is an easy 5-minute drive from the Glendalough Monastic Site.
There’s also a small bar in the corner of the restaurant that features a wide variety of Irish whiskey brands.
Take a Boat Tour of the Sligo and Mayo Coast
Enniscrone native Peter O’Neill’s love of the sea didn’t happen by accident. His late father and grandfather were both fishermen.
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The local businessman is taking it a step further by offering boat tours that begin in this popular County Sligo seaside resort, bringing visitors across Killala Bay and beyond to sites like the Dun Briste stack at Downpatrick, off the Ceide coastline, as well as other attractions.
September is still a great time to take a boat ride in the waters off the Wild Atlantic Way.
Be sure to check out Enniscrone Boat Tours on Instagram if you want to take an exhilarating, fast-paced boat trip and enjoy all that this part of Ireland has to offer.
Spend a Fine September Day at this Outstanding Stone Circle in Cork
While not nearly as large as Stonehenge in England, the Drombeg Stone Circle in County Cork is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland.
It originally consisted of 17 closely spaced stones, but only 13 survive today.
Radiocarbon dating of samples taken near the stones suggests that it was used around 1,100-800 B.C.
Artifacts discovered at the site include a pot that contained the cremated remains of an adolescent wrapped in a thick cloth.
Why not spend a fine day in Ireland in September imagining the sacred rituals that might have taken place in this rural spot, known locally as The Druid’s Altar?
Take a Walk Around Moore Hall in County Mayo
In the middle of the County Mayo countryside on the shores of Lough Carra lies the shell of a former grand home.
If you’re visiting Ballintubber Abbey, Moore Hall is a 10-minute drive away.
The house once belonged to George Moore, who made his money abroad in the wine and brandy trade and with his substantial wealth was able to build Moore Hall, which was occupied continuously from 1795 until 1910.
Anti-treaty sympathizers burned the grand house on Feb. 1, 1923, leaving it a ruin.
The gang of IRA men was opposed to the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which essentially split Ireland into two, the 26 counties now known as The Republic of Ireland, and the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, which pledged allegiance to the Crown and remain part of the U.K.
Moore Hall is a lovely day trip any time of year but in September, the fall colors appear, and you can take a looped walk around the grounds to enjoy nature and the many carvings of forest animals that are on the property.
Enjoy the Autumn Colors at Glenariff Forest in Antrim
Glenariff Forest Park, which is in a region known as Glenariff, is one of the famous Glens of Antrim and is actually known as the “Queen of the Glens.”
And rightly so.
This beautiful forest, about a 20-minute drive from Ballymena, is a National Nature Reserve and contains a mix of planted woodlands, recreational spaces, lakes, and waterfalls.
There are several walks that you can take in Glenariff Forest Park. They include the Scenic Trail, the Glenariff Forest Park Waterfall Walk, The Viewpoint Trail, and the Rainbow Trail.
The circular Scenic Trail is the longest at 5.9 miles (9 km) but offers the most spectacular views and it is where you can see Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre on a good day.
While you’re in the neighborhood, you might want to hop on the winding Torr Head Scenic Route, a 45-minute drive that goes between Ballycastle and Cushenden and offers up more fabulous views of the Northern Ireland coastline.
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Take a Sightseeing Cruise Along the River Corrib from Galway
Today it’s overgrown with vegetation but there’s a dark history to Menlo Castle, a 16th-century structure that lies on the banks of the Corrib River.
The castle belonged to the Blakes, once described as the richest family in Galway. They lived there from 1600 to 1910, at which time a fire engulfed the building and took with it Lord and Lady Blake’s disabled daughter Eleanor and two maids.
While a walk to the deserted castle is doable, taking a boat trip on the Corrib Princess seems like the more enjoyable alternative and on a beautiful September day, it might just be the highlight of your trip to Galway City, a few short miles away.
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Visit the Home of Ireland’s Last Leprechauns
Whether you believe in leprechauns or not, there’s at least one man in Ireland who certainly does.
Kevin Woods, known in the local Carlingford, County Louth, community as the Leprechaun Whisperer, claims that he has seen three leprechauns in his lifetime.
Today, he is a firm believer in Ireland’s Little People and runs tours from a cavern underneath the medieval town.
Why not take a tour and see for yourself?
View the Preserved Art Studio of an Erratic Dublin-Born Painter
Visiting Ireland in September doesn’t mean you should spend all your time indoors.
At the excellent Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, which is free to visit, you’ll find a recreation of Francis Bacon’s London studio that was broken down into parts and moved to the Dublin museum in 1998.
Bacon, who was born in the city, is known for his confrontational figurative painting style.
The chaotic nature of this recreated art studio isn’t surprising given the erratic nature of a life that was fueled by violence and alcohol abuse.
Over 7,000 articles were collected and cataloged, including paintbrushes, art supplies, even the dust from his studio.
The ceiling, walls, and narrow staircase were also taken away and reinstalled at the back of the museum, where you will find this interesting display.
Bacon died in Madrid in 1992. His work can be found in art museums around the world.
Unleash the Crime Writer in You at the Spike Island Literary Festival, Sept. 2nd – 4th
Spike Island was once the largest prison in the world, housing petty criminals, convicts awaiting transportation to Australia and other far-off places, as well as political prisoners.
Today it is a popular tourist attraction and the venue for the first Spike Island Literary Festival dedicated to the popular genre of crime writing.
If you’re an aspiring writer, this is the event that could be the turning point of your career and the highlight of your visit to Ireland!
Author talks and workshops will be available, and attendees will get the chance to explore parts of the prison that are usually off-limits to regular visitors. Book tickets (€25 each) here.
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The Limerick Jazz Festival, Sept. 21st – 25th
Cork City has become synonymous with Irish jazz festivals (that celebration takes place Oct. 27-30), but Limerick is fast becoming another great Irish venue for jazz enthusiasts.
Now in its 10th year, the festival features local, national, and international musicians.
Are you planning a visit to Ireland in September? Let me know in the comments below.