In Ireland, the main socially acceptable conversation starter, greeting and subject of complaint and general observation is the weather. And the main sub-category of the weather is rain. After all, it rains a lot in Ireland; not for nothing is it known as the Emerald Isle.
Accordingly, there are many different types of Irish rain, each with its own word, application, description, delineations and phrase. You can't have a proper conversation in Ireland without talking about the weather, and you can't talk sensibly about the weather - or indeed understand what an Irish person is talking about at all, without knowing at least a few of the different types of rain.
Below are the most common types of Irish rain, which you'll need to be familiar with before you can have a coherent conversation in Ireland:
1. A Soft Day
One of the most common types of days in Ireland, and any self-respecting Irish person's favourite. Grey, mild, total cloud cover and rain in the form of a gentle mist. Can also be referred to as a soft, grand day, meaning that the mist is a fraction dryer.
2. A Bit Damp
Like a soft day, but the gentle mist is a little bit more persistent, with minuscule, ever so gentle drops of microscopic rain. You don't get wet but merely enveloped by a soft blanket of light dampness.
This rain will only get you a little bit wet. You can still happily pop out to the shops, and there is often a break in this type of rain, leaving the day grey but drying off a bit, before starting up again.
4. Wet Rain
Wet rain is sneaky. You think it is a milder sort of rain than Drizzlin' rain, but it will get you absolutely drenched before you know it.
5. Pissin' rain
Straight forward, what you see is what you get type of rain. You could go out in it, but you're going to get soaking wet. Sometimes it's worth it.
6. Bucketing rain
This type of rain often catches you by surprise, sometimes seemingly coming out of nowhere. It might be a nice enough day, a little sunny even, and you are lulled into a sense of security only to be caught out at the most inconvenient moment by big fat drops of rain that seem to be falling down on top of you from celestial buckets.
7. Lashin' rain
Also referred to as Hammerin' down. Kind of like a power shower, but cold and you're outside with your clothes on. Can be both unexpected and inevitable. Like a power shower can. This kind of rain is glorious on rare occasions, if you happen to get caught in it and get drenched to the skin but you are able to be all zen and 'Singing in the Rain' about it and just go with it.
8. You wouldn't put a dog out in it
Similar to the expression 'raining cats and dogs', this type of rain means business. It's wet, it's windy, it's miserable. This type of rain also has a sliding scale of use, depending on the individual's level of love for animals in general, and cats and dogs in particular.
9. Bleeding' rain
Rain that is relentless and goes on for days without end. Any type of rain can be generalised with the phrase 'bleedin' rain if it goes on for any number of consecutive days.
10. A hoor of a day
You want to be exposed to this type of rain only when absolutely necessary. You're going to get more than you bargained for, are going to have to change all your clothes when you get home, and afterwards you realise you never should have gone out in it in the first place, because it wasn't really worth it.
You may have noticed that the heavier and more extreme the rain, the more colourful are the Irish words and phrases for it. Irish people are very fond of colourful language. They like being emphatic.
Also, this being Ireland, it is quite possible to have several different types of rain - or even several different seasons - in one day.
Uniquely, the type of rain also depends a little on the person describing said rain. A 'soft day' to one might be a 'you wouldn't put a dog out in it' kind of day to another (even Ireland has the odd overprotective dog lover among its citizens).
Some practical examples you can use:
Sorry I'm late, it's lashing, I was waiting for a break.
Don't worry Mary, sure, you wouldn't put a dog out in it!
Jayzus, I got absolutely drowned!
Feck this weather we're havin' anyway, there's no end to the bleedin' rain this week
'Arragh, it's a fine, soft day' - non sarcastic (used by older people a lot)
'Arragh, it's a fine, soft day' - sarcastic (used by younger, sarcastic people when the weather is anywhere between number 1 and 10)
Have you experienced any of these or other types of Irish rain? Let us know in the comments below!
Hi, I'm Misja.
I'm a writer, a mum, an (eek!) oma. ...
Do you Really want to be a Writer?
Getting Lost in Cádiz
A Visit to the Kinderdijk
24 Hours in Amsterdam
The Old Rail Trail - cycling 50 km in the rain