We use multivariate regime switching vector autoregressive models to characterize the time-varying linkages among short-term interest rates (monetary policy) and stock returns in the Irish, the US and UK markets. We find that two regimes, characterized as bear and bull states, are required to characterize the dynamics of returns and short-term rates. This implies that we cannot reject the hypothesis that the regimes driving the markets in the small open economy are largely synchronous with those typical of the major markets. We compute time-varying Sharpe ratios and recursive mean-variance portfolio weights and document that a regime switching framework produces out-of-sample portfolio performance that outperforms simpler models that ignore regimes. Interestingly, the portfolio shares derived under regime switching dynamics implies a fairly low committment to the Irish market, in spite of its brilliant unconditional risk-return trade-off.