In 1997 my son and I took our Mercedes 408 camper van on a trip through Nth Ireland and Eire. That was the first year the ferry ran from Campbelltown to Ballycastle, we parked on the Campbelltown pier, nice and flat, and near the chippy and cinema. Handy to pee on a slipway down into the harbour, but not in the morning after the tide had been in and it was a bit slippery, for Neil cos he ended up in the harbour! I heard a shout and plop rushed over to see Neil swimming to a ladder and me shouting at him where's your glasses, he wasn't giving two Fs for his glasses as they were in the van. So in comes the ferry and Neil is soaking wet with harbour water which is not the freshest. As I boarded the lassie said you have booked for a passenger where is the passenger? I replied he's in the shower, he fell into the Harbour ten minutes ago. Bit sceptical looks but ushered on. I had to leave the vehicle and explain my son was drying himself off and will need to leave the vehicle deck, no problem to these guys they could not have been nicer. After that debacle we headed west and south, we visited the usual tourist spots, we also climbed a holy mountain whose name escapes me but the cross on top is impressive. Did Eire's highest mountain with the great name of Macgillycuddys Reeks, we camped in the Wicklow gap but did not climb the wee hills there, the midges were absolutely ferocious. We stopped where we wanted set up camp and not a soul bothered us. I once camped in a field near a loch where we fished, but the field was knee high in grass. We later met the farmer who was cutting grass for silage in a back field and I apologised for imposing myself on his property, he apologised for the grass being so long! That is typical of the Irish both Nth and Sth, absolutely friendly to a fault. I do have a note of the places we visited but it is long and why bore you with details, as a postscript to my credit crunch holidays post Nth Ireland and Eire is a brilliant place to visit, especially if you're into fishing. Not that we caught anything, well I did catch the propeller on one expedition! one floating line knackered, well my son learned i could swear in sentences! Sailing back from Belfast in that very fast ferry my son attached himself to a guy on a bandit who was bouncing back from a funeral and was locked onto the bandit. Neil being Neil analysed the win profile and as well as guiding this fella he went the bar to get him change. I saw nothing of him in the whole trip except to make sure he wasn't annoying the bandit player, as he was a big fella and fit to boot. By this time Neil had made himself financial advisor and in due course the jackpot dropped, £200, Neil got £20! So he fell into the harbour and fell into money. Brilliant holiday. Visit Ireland, you will, you will ,you will.

3 Responses to “Caravaning in Nth Ireland and Eire”

  1. April 9, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I must admit that this story brought a smile to my face although I know someone else who ended up in Campbeltown Harbour by accident. Him Indoors (Chris) was an engineer for RJ’s when they did the new pier/berth in the arbour and had his chainboy in a small boat in the harbour checking out some of the concrete works done the day before close to the water line.

    Unfortunately for the chainboy whilst he was doing this work, the large RNLI boat left the harbour at full speed (must have been on an emergency call) and produced a very substantial wake. All of this resulted in the chainboy exiting the small boat head first into the harbour with Chris eventually fishing him out, lifejacket and all, after he had stopped laughing of course! It is definitely not the sort of water to willingly be throwing-self into.

  2. ThePath May 1, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Ahh memories…..actualy I have surprisingly little of them regards this trip. Must have been good!

    However you have missed 2 very poignant circumstances. The first thing I remember was stoppping or trying to in Belfast. We asked a friendly gun toting soldier were it would be prudent to park and take in the sights. He said something to the effect of ‘I wouldnt if I were you, just keep driving and get the hell out of the city…..and dont stop for any hitch hikers coz you’ll lose yer van!’

    We took heed and departed tout suite. The hitch hikers were indeed present but were deprived of hijacking the old Merc.

    Secondly you have failed to mention the pikeys. Aye…..proper fecking pikeys in a proper fecking campsite. Im sure we stopped and asked a local where best to obtain some gas for the van (Dad insists he simply saw the bottles at their gate). Either way we pulled up right outside their gate. Dad jumped out and started to wlk in……I wasnt looking at him though I had already spied the people, the place, the surroundings, the watchful, keen eyes etc. They wore drab, well worn cloths, that had obviously seen more work than washes!!

    Basically they looked rough ready and capable of burying a few Scottish tourists, acquiring a new home fur de chief poikey!

    Well maybe my imagination was running slightly fast but they were proper travelling pikey folk.

    However Dad seemed non the wiser and sauntered in their yard. Immediately helping a young lad load some stuff on the back of a wagon. They immediately warmed to Dad and saw he was a worker and willing ti help a stranger…….so they did too! My Dad asked for gas and gas we recieved….for nowt.

    Thats right, those dirty, van stealing pikeys were kind enough to give us free gas and advice.

    Moral of the story? Book….cover?

    • Ian May 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm

      Aye, nearly right, it was Londonderry not Belfast, and there was a huge orange march going on. I had seen orange marches before in Glasgow but Neil growing up in Perth had never witnessed one. Well he never saw that one but did later in a small town where I drove through and could not get parked went round through the main street again when I noticed all the cars had people in them and were facing to the street, it clicked, a march. We parked outside the town and had a short walk back to exactly get the start of the march. Even the kids faces were serious, I have a solemn face, but boy it is something else to see a mass (oops) of such faces. Serious business marching in Ireland. Oh and it wasn’t hitch hikers, the comment was if you get lost up the bogside? think it was bogside, you will lose you van. And he wasn’t kidding!
      And the Pikeys, well the people I met were travelling people, although established in the yard I entered, I explained my problem which was the regulator and gas bottles in Eire where different from the UK. He went to look for a regulator as he had a gas bottle, while he was gone I took his place helping a young lad offload a trailer. Neil is right, the fella refused money for the bottle and regulator, an act of kindness.

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