Irish consumer confidence dropped back in November from a 16-month high but still recorded the second-highest reading since the country signed an EU/IMF bailout a year ago, suggesting that the gloom felt by consumers may be lifting a little.

The KBC Ireland/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index fell to 60.1 in November after jumping to 63.7 in October when it was 15 points above the reading recorded a year earlier, the survey showed on Friday.

While economists expected the reading to fall, the slight drop in November meant the average value of the index for the past three months stands at 59.0 compared to 56.0 for the three previous months but still below the long term average of 88.0.

So, there is no suggestion in these data that Irish consumers are unaware of the scale of problems facing this economy or the implications of those problems for their personal financial well-being, said Austin Hughes, chief economist of KBC Ireland

That said, the results of the past couple of months tentatively suggest Irish consumers feel these problems could be easing rather than worsening.

The resilience in mood comes despite a rapidly deteriorating debt crisis in Europe, where the EC survey of consumer confidence has dropped for six straight months.

Hughes said the success so far of Ireland's bailout programme as well as the European Central Bank's decision to cut interest rates and signal further cuts ahead accounted for the slight improvement in the mood of Irish consumers of late.

However with preceptions of the general economic outlook making up the weakest element of the survey, he cautioned that the government faced a tricky task in further easing pessimism with 3.8 billion euros (3.27 billion pounds) worth of fresh austerity measures to be announced next week.

In these circumstances, the key near term task for the Government is to frame a budget package that makes consumers believe further near term pain will translate into healthier economic conditions in the not too distant future, Hughes said.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Ron Askew)