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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.
There are plenty of places to stay in Counties Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny and Carlow make up the Sunny South East because of a micro-climate which bathes the region in more sunshine than anywhere else on the rain-washed Emerald Isle.
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.
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.
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, champoinship parkland courses and a few lesser-known gems.
In Wexford head for St Helen's Bay a mixture of parkland and links, traditional links at Rosslare and Seafield which has a reputation as one of the friendliest clubs in Ireland.
Dunmore East in Waterford has lovely views of the bay and the well-respected course at Waterfod has very good greens. Tramore, Faithlegg and Waterford Castle are also worth a trundle round.
Kilkenny's Mount Juliet is a happy leftover of the 90s boom and the mature parkland course at Kilkenny never disappoints.
There is good sport to be had for anglers in the south east of Ireland with one of our favourite 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.
Browse through our list of the best places to stay in South East Ireland and start to plan your visit. Please feel free to call or email a friendly guru for advice. Contact
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.
Co. Wexford, 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.
Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, South East Ireland
Exclusive adult-only award-winning spa-hotel set in 119 acres of gardens and parkland. Chic-eco design - from the garden to the sumptuous spa to the airy rooms. Space and light dominate. A designer spa break, and you can even bring your horse!
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, fires in large marble fireplaces, antique furniture. Grand bedrooms with four poster beds and garden views. A fab getaway.
Kilkenny, South East Ireland
Modern boutique hotel with a busy bar. Contemporary, pristine rooms, some with views of the castle. Super conference facilities and swanky restaurant and spa across the road at the Pembroke's sister hotel. A good choice for business visitors and great value for money.
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.
County Wexford, South East Ireland
Stylish seaside spa and golf hotel within reach of Dublin. A fantastic choice for groups and families with keen interests in golf, spa pampering, and a host of other activities. Fantastic sea views from crisp bedrooms, some with balconies, as well as a perfectly unspoilt sandy beach.
Wexford, South East Ireland
Recently renovated, modern hotel with state-of-the-art leisure and conference facilities. Simple modern rooms with all the high-techery and excellent sea views. Superb health club, spa and cryotherapy clinic. A large functional hotel that can accommodate all requirements for business and leisure.
Kilkenny City, South East Ireland
A beautifully maintained Georgian guesthouse on Kilkenny castle estate. Spacious rooms with elegant-chic neutral decoration, fireplaces, sash windows, spiral staircases, magnificent plasterwork ceilings. Stunning box-hedge gardens and majestic views of the castle and grounds. Superb.