Life Ireland

Friday 22 August 2014

Campsites: 10 best sites in Ireland

Pol O Conghaile

Published 24/06/2012 | 06:00

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Wave Crest Caravan Park Kerry
Westport House Camping Park Mayo

Pol O Conghaile tracks down the top sites to pitch your tent.

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Best for weddings

Boutique Camping, Co Westmeath

Is it a concept or a campsite? A little bit of both.

Adrian Murphy first stayed in a yurt on a trip to Mongolia in his early teens, and today, he and his wife Deirdre have turned his fascination into an alternative camping experience at Mount Druid.

Ten authentic Mongolian yurts each sleep up to four people near the southern shores of Lough Ennell. All are arranged around a converted barn with a wood- burning stove, comfy couches and a banqueting table.

Boutique Camping also does shepherd's huts, self-catering houses and, as of late, weddings -- you can tie the knot in a tin chapel and dance the night away in the barn.

Details: Yurts from €100 per night (ie €25pp sleeping four), but the best value is in the three-night stay for €240. Tel: 087 987 5277; boutiquecamping.ie.

Best for long stays

Clogher Valley Country Park, Tyrone

Most people associate camping with a night or two under the stars. At Clogher Valley, you can live on-site year round.

That's if you have £60,000/ €75,000 to spend on the two-bed park homes, or £6,000/€7,500 on the static pitches currently being sold by the Somerville family, of course.

Not that you have to make a purchase -- the Clogher Valley camping park is close to the Fermanagh Lakes and Fardross Forest, and open to anyone with a tent, caravan or camper van.

Details: Pitches from £12/€15 for a single cyclist or hiker to £20/€25 for a camper van. Tel: 0044 288 554 8932; caravanpark-northern ireland.co.uk.

Best for music

Glengarriff Caravan & Camping Park, Co Cork

Visiting musicians are always welcome at this West Cork camping park, where the on-site bar and lounge has a reputation for its regular live music shows.

But don't worry if you've come to West Cork to tune out.

Situated beside Bantry Bay, the camping park is a good base for exploring the Mizen and Beara peninsulas, taking a boat trip to nearby Garnish Island, and there are some gorgeous trails through the forest park -- including one to Lady Bantry's Lookout.

Sailing, boating, sea kayaking and angling are available in the area, too.

Details: Pitches range from €10 for a solo hiker or cyclist to €28 for a unit plus two adults and two children. Tel: 027 63154; camping ireland.ie.

Best for getting away from it all

Pure Camping, Co Clare

Fancy kicking off your mornings with a yoga class, followed by a cuppa overlooking the Shannon Estuary?

That's the offer at Pure Camping, a new eco-campsite in the village of Querrin, on Clare's Loop Head peninsula.

Trea Heapes is a Satyananda yoga teacher, and she and husband Kevin have embraced sustainable practices such as rainwater harvesting at their campsite too.

There's no electric hook-up (in keeping with the eco-friendly theme) but there's a clay oven for making pizzas, wood is available for campfires and you can stay in bell tents, bring your own unit, or take your tent down into the woods.

Details: Pitches range from €10 for a solo cyclist or hiker to €12 per unit, plus €2 per person, for couples, families or groups. Tel: 065 905 7953; purecamping.ie.

Best for views

Mannix Point, Kerry

Location, location, location. It's a mantra normally associated with bricks and mortar but pretty crucial when it comes to camping too.

Mannix Point Camping Park fronts on to a half kilometre of coastline near Cahirciveen and is surrounded by the mountains of the Iveragh Peninsula -- meaning stellar views no matter which way you look.

The campers' kitchen is renowned for its impromptu music sessions, and it's also the nearest camping park to the departure points for the Skelligs.

A current offer has four nights for the price of three.

Details: Pitches range from €8.50 from a solo hiker or cyclist to €27 for a unit with two adults and two children.

Tel: 066 947 2806; campinginkerry.com.

Best seaside set-up

Acton's Beachside Camping Park, Galway

The clue is in the name. Set on a private beach within walking distance of Omey Island, Acton's is one of the few eco-campsites in Ireland, with low-density plots set between grassy sand dunes and energy generated from wind (no shortage of that in Connemara).

Wild camping requires the landowner's permission in Ireland, so this is pretty much as close as you'll get without trespassing -- with all the safety and facilities of a modern camping park.

Low light pollution leads to spectacular skyscapes at night and coastal breezes help keep summer midges away.

Details: Pitches range from €9 for solo cyclists or hikers to €26 for a unit plus two adults and two children.

Tel: 095 44036; actonsbeach sidecamping.com.

Best for families

Morriscastle Strand Holiday Park, Co Wexford

At the Blue Flag beach in Morriscastle, there's always a spot for your towel. The 20km strand stretches as far as the eye can see and spills over with soft, white sand.

Morriscastle Strand Holiday Park is also something of a Wexford institution, with its playground, basketball court, astro-turf pitch and summer children's camp being joined later this summer by a new restaurant.

Don't miss Lawler's Shop, either, which sells everything from fresh pizza to wine and crepes, a five-minute walk away. It's a wonder the queue isn't 20km long too.

Details: Pitches range from €8 for a solo hiker or cyclist to €26 for a unit with two adults and two children. Tel: 053 913 0365; morriscastlestrand.com.

Best for activities

Westport House Camping Park, Co Mayo

Got an active family? Here's the camping park to keep them busy.

The campsite itself is a basic, grassy bowl surrounded by mature trees but the facilities are where Westport House comes into its own.

Tennis, table tennis, pitch 'n' putt, fishing and a soft play area are free to residents during certain hours, and you can pay as you go in the Pirate Adventure Park, summer camps and laser combat, paddle surfing and zip lines at the Adventure Activity Centre too.

Nearby options range from Blue Flag beaches to deep-sea fishing and pony trekking.

Details: Pitches range from €9.50 for a solo hiker or cyclist to €34 for a unit with two adults and two children. Family specials are also available.

Tel: 098 27766; westporthouse.ie.

Best offshore escape

Chleire Haven, Cork

Cape Clear is right at the entrance to Roaringwater Bay, a location that makes it one of the leading dolphin and whale-sighting locations in Europe.

Other exotic species to be spotted on the Gaeltacht island are yurts and tepees -- several of which have been imported and erected along the shoreline at Chleire Haven by Dave Calvert and Sally Davies.

The yurts come with log stoves, gas cookers, real beds, solar-heated showers and overhead windows that are perfect for night-time star-gazing.

The tepees require sleeping bags, or you could, of course, bring your own tents.

Details: Prices start from €240 for two nights in a yurt (sleeping up to six). Tepees cost €20pp per night, and camping €10pp per night.

Tel: 028 39982; yurt-holidays-ireland.com.

Best for coastal craic

Wave Crest Caravan Park, Co Kerry

If it's a coastal camping experience you're after, the sea doesn't come closer than Wave Crest, the camping and caravan oasis near Caherdaniel.

Facilities here include a play area and a deli selling everything from homemade cakes to barbecue-friendly burgers and steaks, but the big draw is the direct access to water.

Views stretch over Kenmare Bay, dolphins and basking shark have been seen offshore, and a rib boat -- Iolar na Mara -- offers trips up the coastline and Sneem estuary from €25pp.

John and Brid O'Shea are the second generation to run the business.

Details: Pitches range from €8.50 for a solo hiker or cyclist to €27 for a unit with two adults and two children.

Tel: 066 947 5188; see wave crestcamping.com.

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