There are few guarantees in travel, regardless of where you go. But one thing you can count on in Ireland: You can’t count on the weather. One moment, you will be gazing on fields resplendent in shades of green enlivened by a brilliant sun. The next moment, you will find yourself enshrouded in fog and dampened by a light but persistent mist. That’s part of the Ireland experience.
Which means when packing, you must think of the “L” word: layers. As I have in the past, I found that polo shirts (with or without costly animal logos on the chest) make a good start for most days. I always bring a couple of cashmere sweaters, which provide welcome warmth if the temperature turns cool and which do double duty in the evenings at country house hotels where, these days, jackets are not much in evidence. Also versatile is a micro-fleece vest, which I wear on planes, and which provides a nice layer of warmth when the weather chills. The vest is especially useful with another must item: a lightweight waterproof or water-resistant jacket. A good cap is also on my list and, as this is Ireland, I’ll bring one of my favorite tweeds from previous trips.
As I mentioned, the dress at country house hotels is less formal than it once was. Still, I pack a dependable pair of lightweight dark wool slacks for the evenings, as well as three or four dress shirts. These, with a dark cashmere sweater, will stand you in good stead. I do bring along a blazer, in case the prevailing style dictates it, as it most certainly did at Ballyfin. Men there split on ties, most wearing them but many not, so to cover yourself, pack a tie or two. I find that when a tie does not seem necessary, a silk pocket square adds a bit of dash to a blazer.
Shoes, because of their bulk, can present a problem, one that I have resolved by relying on good, solid Rockports — the waterproof version in black with a suede-like finish. They serve well during the day on all but the most arduous hikes, clean easily and look perfectly fine in the evening.
And of course, most indispensible of all, I pack a small, sturdy folding umbrella.