It is said that the Inuit have hundreds of words for snow. Well, the Irish have a similar number of words for rain.
“Let's get out of the rain,'' you might say, as fine drops begin to fall from the sky. “Oh, it's not raining, it's only misting,'' you would hear in reply.
Or maybe it's spitting, bucketing down, driving, raining cats and dogs, drizzling, etc.
No matter what time of year you visit, if you spend more than a few days in Ireland, you will experience rain.
And for a country that gets a fair share of precipitation, it's surprising how few people use umbrellas.
It's as if the Irish have decided that the best way to deal with the climate is to ignore it. When it rains, you get a little wet. No harm done.
Apart from having a slightly damp camera, the country is a photographer's dream. Overcast skies take away the stark contrast between light and shadow and provide vivid saturated tones in photographs.
The Emerald Isle is a slightly clichéd term but for every type of rain, there has to be a shade of green to match, so rich is the palette of the countryside.
As if to blot out the dark skies, the Irish paint their houses in bright colours and adorn them with flower boxes filled with a rainbow of blooms.
Towns compete each year in the Tidy Towns competition and almost every village could compete.
But what is most striking is the rich variation in landscape. Driving through the country, you can go from the cobblestone roads of Dublin's Temple Bar district to the lazy hills of the farmland in Kilkenny.
Fields of wheat make me wax nostalgic about my home in Canada. Horses graze in pastures beside the highways, reminding travellers of the Irish's old association with this sport of kings and it seems there are almost as many racecourses in Ireland as shopping malls.
In west Cork, a wrong turn took us on a 2-hour detour around the Beara Peninsula — a mistake I would recommend to any traveller.
We cruised along minor farm roads, pleasantly delayed by a group of young boys herding sheep from the pasture to their farmyard and running behind, arms spread wide.
Going from County Cork through the Healy Pass takes you up and down a windy single-lane road, past grazing sheep and not much else.
The road climbs between the peaks of two mountains, summiting at a little coffee shop where drivers can pause for a drink and take snaps of the scenery.
The Cliffs of Moher in County Clare rise more than 200 metres from the Atlantic and are worth strolling around a couple of hours. Paved paths take walkers up to the top of the cliffs.
After a while, the pavement turns into a dirt path with a large sign that tells visitors not to continue along the path — a sign largely ignored on my visit.
Being careful to not get too close to the edge, I snapped a few photos, found a nice spot on the grass and watched as groups of tourists walked along the narrow paths.
The Burren, in the counties of Clare and Galway, is a rocky plateau with large stretches of limestone “pavement'' pieces called clints, broken up into squares by fissures called grikes.
Between the pieces of rock grow wild flowers, many of which are found only in this unique 160 square kilometres.
Deep in the heart of the Burren lies a perfumery which produces scents, soaps and other products from flowers that grow in the area.
The area is also known for its traditional Irish music. It's worth stopping in Doolin, situated at the edge of the region, for lunch and to listen to the live performance at one of the many charming cafés that line the road out of town.
There are still huge chunks of the country I haven't had the chance to explore. But there is one thing I know — you can't go wrong when you're in Ireland.
No matter where a missed turn may take you — whether it's spitting, misting or pouring or whether you are wet or dry — you can't help but enjoy yourself.
Get yourself to a horserace meet.
Racing runs year round in Ireland and meets are spread around the country, so there's a good chance you'll be able to find one that coincides with where you are and what you're doing.
To many people, Ireland is synonymous with horses and racing is closely followed in many Irish households.
Going to a race meet is a great way to find out why that is.
Check out www.goracing.ie for more information.
Go there ... Dublin
From the UAE ... From Dubai
Swiss International Airlines flies daily via Zurich.
Fare from Dh3,440
From Abu Dhabi
Etihad flies daily.
Fare from Dh3,530
— Information courtesy:
The Holiday Lounge by Dnata.
Ph: 04 4298576
Qatar Airways, KLM and British Airways provide service from Dubai too.
The website www.dreamireland.com has information on great cottages and houses and is a good option if you are planning to base yourself in an area for a week.
When to go
Any time of the year is fine to visit. The months of July and August are peak season, so rates are at their highest.
Travelling at other times, you will find lower rates on car rentals and hotels.