Ireland's signature weather is rain. But like the South West of Scotland, with which Ireland shares a weather system as well as a love of foam-topped pints and fiddles, it has lots of lovely days too. Where the neighbours differ, weather wise, is that Ireland has an area known as the Sunny South East. The South West of Scotland doesn't have an area known as the sunny anything. For the best places to stay in South East Ireland, we've found a great selection in Counties Wexford, Carlow, Waterford and Kilkenny.
The South East has some of Ireland's best beaches with miles of completely unspoilt white sand backed by towering dunes.
Beaches which are all worth a visit include Kilmuckridge, Curracloe, Fethard-on-Sea, Duncannon, the wonderfully naturally sheltered Stradbally, busy buzzy, huge Tramore, Bunmahon, Clonea and the gorgeous beaches around Ardmore.
Some of the best places to stay in South East Ireland are undoubtedly by the sea. Our favourites are:
Fishing villages with working harbours dot the coastline. Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford with its thatched cottages, old harbour and 55 berth marina is a good one to visit.
Also in Wexford, Cahore gets lots of larger Whelk fishing boats, and has a beach popular with families for the shallow, sheltered stretch of sea between the beach and the pier.
A popular fishing village in Co Waterford is Dunmore East with its narrow historic streets and annual music and food festivals.
Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and is home to the world famous Crystal makers. Viking raiders first established a settlement near the town in 853. They were booted out by the native Irish but re-established a settlement at Waterford in 914.
90 minutes south of Dublin, Kilkenny is another thousand year-old town, with a creeper-clad 13th century castle and a thirving craft industry. Narrow Norman alleyways snake around ancient abbeys, cathedrals and crumbling city walls.
Book Butler House if Kilkenny is on your list of the best places to stay in South East Ireland. It's located on the castle estate and boasts elegants rooms, beautiful gardens and stunning views.
Carlow also has a 13th Century castle and is a fairly no-frills though pleasant county town with some nice Georgian architecture.
Wexford is well set-up for visitors with a castle (of course), Viking remains and the Irish National Heritage Park. There is an arts centre in town and you can watch seals from Wexford Harbour.
The South East of Ireland is home to an impressive number of good golf courses with traditional links, championship parkland courses and a few lesser-known gems.
One of the best places to stay in South East Ireland if you want to be close to the fairway is the Seafield Hotel. This stylish golf and spa hotel caters for those looking for an indulgent break. The decor delivers the wow factor and there are fantastic sea views.
There is good sport to be had for anglers in the area with one of the best places to stay in South East Ireland, the Lord Bagenal Hotel, in County Carlow, an excellent base for fishing on the River Barrow for salmon, sea trout and brown trout.
In County Waterford, the River Blackwater is a good salmon river and there is decent sea angling in all-singing, all-dancing East Dunmore.
The Slaney and the Boro in County Wexford are good sea trout rivers.
For brown trout in County Kilkenny the River Nore is well thought of.
The famous 'cead mile failte' (a hundred thousand welcomes) is evident everywhere: people offering assistance if you need directions or advice or just a chat.
However, expect a more idiosyncratic approach to hotel service where standards and efficiency are inconsistent.
Idyllic riverside country house. Rooms are traditionally decorated with antique style furniture, wool blankets and wooden floors. Large lounge filled with armchairs and artworks. Wonderful warming menu served around communal dining table.
Gorey, South East Ireland
A quiet luxury retreat with spa and golf course just an hour from Dublin. Fantastic for groups, families and weddings. Beautiful sea views from crisp bedrooms - some with balconies. Perfectly unspoilt sandy beaches great for long walks. A charming and quiet spot, ideal for a weekend getaway.
Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, South East Ireland
An award-winning spa-hotel set in 119 acres of gardens and parkland. This adult only retreat offers exceptionally spacious bedrooms with chic Italian marble bathrooms and French spa products. Enjoy a healthy detox menu or indulge in the fine dining and extensive wine list. Pure relaxed detox bliss.
Kilkenny, South East Ireland
Modern boutique hotel with a popular bar. Contemporary, pristine rooms, some with views of the castle. Super conference facilities and fine dining restaurant. There is a spa across the road at the Pembroke's sister hotel for guest use. A great choice and excellent value for money.
Gorey, Co. Wexford, South East Ireland
Set in 35 acres of gardens sits a traditional country-house hotel with superb restaurant. The interiors ooze classical elegance - sparkling chandeliers, abundant fresh flowers, crackling fires and antique furniture. Grand bedrooms with four poster beds and garden views. A fab getaway.
Wexford, South East Ireland
Recently renovated, modern hotel with state-of-the-art leisure facilities. Simple rooms with WiFi, satellite TV and excellent sea views. Superb health club, spa and cryotherapy clinic. A large functional hotel that can accommodate all requirements for business and leisure.
Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, South East Ireland
Traditional riverside Irish pub now popular restaurant with new contemporary hotel attached. On one side, low beamed ceilings, roaring peat fires and a substantial art collection. On the other, sleek modern bedrooms with Egyptian cotton, neutral velvets and natural stone bathrooms.
Arthurstown, South East Ireland
Irish country house with cookery school, renowned restaurant and petite spa. Excellent food fresh from the beautiful gardens. The interiors exude classical elegance - Wedgewood blues, marble fireplaces, antique furniture. The lodge is a perfect spot for families or groups.
Kilkenny City, South East Ireland
A beautifully maintained Georgian guesthouse on Kilkenny castle estate. Spacious rooms with elegant neutral colours, period fire places, sash windows and spiral staircases. Stunning manicured gardens and majestic views of the castle and grounds. A superb weekend getaway.
Ardmore, Co. Waterford, South East Ireland
Contemporary hotel with spectacular sea views and an award-winning restaurant. Ultra modern design from the infinity pool to the spectacular glass-walled dining room and spa. Bright bedrooms with lots of natural light and private balconies. An utterly unique homage to modernist design and comfort.
Ballyfin, County Laois, South East Ireland
An immaculately restored, opulently furnished, Regency country mansion situated at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains. Five star luxury throughout. Sumptuous rooms filled with original Irish art. The price tag is steep, but it is on a full board basis with little extras like laundry included too