If you are a nature lover, but also a city dweller you may, like me, have decided that the way to spend a summer vacation is go camping. While a soggy summer may send many Irish residents seeking sun in Spain or Greece, many still head for the Irish hills, mountains and beaches of this island. Camping, caravaning (a mobile home attached by trailer towbar to a car), glamping (glamorous camping)and recreational vehicles (RV) all play a part of the Irish summer vacation scene.
For many years my partner and I went on a nine day music camp called Earthsong, where electric music, cell phones, alcohol and drugs were all banned. But there comes a time when you may become what I classify as Too Old For Tents (TOFTs. Just as we were mulling over investing in a yurt (no storage space), the glamping scene in Ireland really took off.
Glamping is branded as luxury camping, or camping with proper beds and heating. In a climate that is frequently and unpredictably rainy, glamping is as glamorous as staying in a boutique Bed and Breakfast, but you have the advantage of staying out in nature, with no light pollution, a stary night sky and birdsong to wake you in the morning. One glamping site I have visited is Teapot Lane in Sligo. It is sited in the dramatic drumlins that inspired Yeats' poetry, as well as being situated near some of the finest beaches in Ireland. It is also not far from Bundoran, which is Surf City Ireland.
Teapot Lane has a yurt and tepee village, each kitted out with a comfortable bed, sofas or easy chairs and a wood burning stove. Yurts, the habitats of the nomads in Mongolia, are ideal for the Irish climate in that they are rain proof and well insulated. There is a brightly decorated communal kitchen available for the glampers to make meals and store food. But there are also plenty of nearby restaurants. With Mullaghmore harbour,Eithna's Restaurant By the Sea, and an organic farm, The Tatie Hoaker, nearby, fine food and ingredients are readily available.
But there are other glamping options. Tucked away right on the Leitrim and Roscommon county boundary line, Beirne's of Battlebridge welcomes every class of camper and glamper. The family run pub and restaurant is located beside a rustic stone bridge that spans the River Shannon. Cruisers are tied up at their private jetty. Ample space is allowed for tents, and there is plenty of electric hook ups for RVs and caravaners. Tucked at the back of the site, between a buttercup filled meadow and the Shannon, are tiny houses that they call ecopods. These brightly painted cabins have a full sliding doors giving onto a deck with tables and chairs and a view of the swans gliding down the river. While being lively enough the site had the quiet those who yearn for these backwaters. The pub had a Sunday afternoon music session of both traditional, folk and contemporary acoustic music to accompany children playing on the swings or fishing on the river bank.
It has come to my attention that many musicians who follow the summer festivals use caravans or RVs while they travel the music circuit. It is probably a safe assumption that you are unlikely NOT to hear some first class music around a campfire if visit any of Ireland's camping or glamping sites in the summer.