I have not been away much over the summer. Everywhere seemed to be on fire or underwater, so I did not feel I was missing anything. Practically everyone I know had some horror story of cancelled/delayed flights or sweltering in 40-degree heatwaves. Paying several thousand pounds to put yourself through such misery did not seem attractive to me.
A family wedding in Ballyboffey brought me to Donegal last weekend, and then on Monday, I went down to meet up with a friend who was camping in Rosses Point in Sligo. The last time I was in a tent was at Electric Picnic about 17 years ago, and that experience put me off camping for life. But my friend made a good sales pitch about how we had secured his daughter’s luxury six-man air beam tent, complete with 2 bedrooms and a living room area. In reality, the 1mm divide between the bedrooms and my friend’s horrendous snoring triggered a full-blown existential crisis at 3:30am the first night. Earplugs and a looping white noise track from Spotify came to my rescue.
It is hard to beat camping for value. You can get a week on a campsite for the price of 1 night in a hotel. The campsites tend to be well equipped, the one at Rosses Point had toilets, showers, a kitchen, washing machines etc. There was also a playground for kids. Most people were in touring caravans, and we marvelled at the array of clever accommodation options. A couple from Belfast were sleeping in a converted Citroen Berlingo. I am 6′ 4″ so it would not be a great option for me, but I thought it was a very great use of space and less hassle than towing a caravan or putting up a tent. This video is not the couple, but it gives you an idea:
Rosses Point is an incredibly windy spot, and we got some heavy rain some nights. It was pretty miserable at times, but I think we need to experience some hardship in our lives to appreciate what we have like a bedroom where the walls do not move and a toilet that is not the bushes next to the tent. If I were camping again, I would be paying a visit to Decathalon to stock up on some of their funky self-inflating mattresses and bed frames.
We spent five days pottering about Sligo and a good time was had by all. The thing we most enjoyed was hanging out in the local bars having a few pints and playing pool. Harry’s Bar in Rosses Point was a friendly establishment and we seemed to gravitate to it every night. They have music a few nights a week, and we merrily joined in with the singing.
All all accounts, Ireland is a dear hole for tourists these days, but you can keep your costs down with a bit of creativity. We ate out at least once a day and I think I only spent £200-£300 over the five days. Pints in Sligo are cheaper than in Belfast, about £3.75.
The lesson of the trip is that sometimes simple is better. Sure, it’s nice to fly to New York or toast yourself on a beach in Majorca, but sometimes what you really need is to chill in the lobby of the Radisson Hotel with a nice pot of tea and a good book (€3 well spent). You need a friendly chat with fellow campers or the nice American couple next to you in the restaurant.
You need to spend an afternoon with a pint in one hand and a pool cue in the other. Be transported back to the carefree days of your youth before that whole life thing got in your way, and all you had to worry about was that minor civil war we had going on. When it all gets too much, you need a wee dander, a pint and a bowl of chips – that will sort you out.
So where did you go on your holidays? And more importantly, can you suggest some nice relaxing places to visit in Ireland with good pubs, pool tables and a guaranteed singsong.
I help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site as well as running our live events. My background is in business, marketing and IT. My politics tend towards middle-of-the-road pragmatism, I am not a member of any political party. Oddly for a member of the Slugger team, I am not that interested in daily politics, preferring to write about big ideas in society. When not stuck in front of a screen, I am a parkrun Run Director.