IT is perhaps the busiest year yet for staycations, and around west and north Clare there is far more ‘wild camping’ than seen previously.
So called wild camping happens when visitors base themselves away from designated facilities, and Ennistymon Municipal District Councillor Shane Talty said 2020 has seen a huge rise in it. “It’s a feature at the moment and there seems to be a huge increase in it, particularly in the north of the county, in Fanore, Craggagh, along by the shore there. There’s some of it going on at weekends in Liscannor, around the pier and out around Clahane, there’s more of it around Lahinch.
“It’s far more noticeable than ever before, accommodation is literally booked out, I think people are making a decision that they’re still going to travel and stay if they can at all. The handiest option when accommodation is booked out, or maybe people are priced out, is a tent.”
Unfortunately some of those involved have left their mark on the landscape. “There are some issues, in fairness I’d say a majority of these people try and follow the leave no trace thing, but it does leave a job of work for the Council operatives to tidy up the beaches, parks and other locations. It’s an additional headache that we haven’t had before and one that we will have to be more mindful of in terms of resourcing the tidy up or the policing of it if that’s where people want to go. But maybe it’s just a feature of this year.”
He said that Irish tourists are much more likely to be wild campers than people who have travelled from overseas. ” It is noticeably worse because of the staycation message. There are far more people around but the type and the mix is very different from other years, we don’t have the Europeans or the Americans. It’s virtually all Irish and they’re comfortable enough in knowing the locations to take their chances and pitch up, whereas an international traveller is more likely to have their accommodation booked and arranged, and it tends to be more controlled.”
Councillor Talty urged people not to engage in wild camping, but to use facilities designed for such a purpose. “We’re encouraging people to use designated and authorised facilities. Where those don’t exist or are booked out try and find alternative proper facilities or choose an alternative time of the year if that is possible. If the full signs are up, maybe people need to understand that.”
Kilkee based Councillor Cillian Murphy said that the level of wild camping is certainly far ahead of other years. “We are seeing more and more camper vans and more and more people wild camping. Would we see more irresponsible behaviour on the back of it? No more than the rest of the population there’s a certain percentage will leave a place cleaner than when they arrived and a certain percentage of people that will leave it worse than when they arrived.”