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Lough Ramor Caravan Camping Park

lough ramor camp site

Located 5 kilometres south of Virginia in County Cavan, this is probably one of the smaller campsites I have been to, but Lough Ramor is an absolute gem and sits right at the waters edge. To that note, I’ll do a separate post on Lough Ramor itself and keep this one to the camping and campers side of things.

If it’s the great outdoors you wish to enjoy, you won’t go wrong here but anything more than that and I honestly believe you may actually need a hotel complete with kids club. With that in mind and the facilities, the washrooms and bathrooms were hygienically spotless and clean as you could get from a campers perspective.

There are some permanent mobiles there which is always a good sign, but of note is the fact that the visiting campers areas are split into two zones. The tents seem to be placed right by the waters edge whilst the camper caravans are placed by the electric points on the upper area but slightly out of view of the water.

To those pitching tents, the lower ground is quite rocky beneath from which many bent pegs resulted. I highly recommend a length of re-bar and a steel headed mallet to be added to the camping essentials list.

I was there for four nights and loved every second even though the weather was often verging on extreme to mixed. Those there for the weekend lacking in the correct paraphernalia really stood, most moving on after day one.

In the town of Virginia the Super Valu is probably the best place to go shopping for supplies, but as per camping gear, should you find yourself stuck you may find yourself in a mild pickle. I did bring back up gas for my MSR pocket rocket [essential for a cuppa with 3 minutes brewed outside btw], but not for my Gelert compact double burner with grill – this did pose a mild problem and I could not find a supplier of camping gas, anywhere.

Of note for those looking to take a days excursions, directional signage is not a forté of Cavan County Council and in search of another lake, via its sign postings, I got lost and stumbled across Mullach Lough, not such a bad result in the end for that day I will admit.

In summary, I like Lough Ramor Camp site. Highly recommended if you love your fishing, light boating or you are simply looking for a relaxing weekend away.

email: loughramor@eircom.net

lough ramor camping

Ireland, Camping and The Great Outdoors

The August Bank Holiday weekend is looming quicker that you might actually realise and there is a mild buzz in the air as suggestions and possible destinations are dissected, travel plans are made and lists of not to forgets are concocted and overly examined. Of course one could book into the El Fancy Dan hotel for some pampering and what not but in case you didn’t already know, it seems that camping in Ireland may just be the new rock und roll.

Mary….?! where did you leave the….. did you actually put the tent pegs in the car….? Well they should be there then, shouldn’t they….. shouldn’t they ?

camping irelandSome may shudder at the thought of the potential chilly night and the fact that the neighbours, now just two sheets away can hear every air movement and whisper. But unless you own the Partridge Family bus, there was and always will be an element of egg shell trampling with any family holiday. It is, with hindsight what makes them fond memories.

In favour of the properly roofed accommodation brigade is the reality that our hotel prices are cheaper than we have ever seen them before and most recently we have seen Irish Value Added Tax on restaurants dropped to nine per cent encouraging us all to eat out… well, in, if you know what I mean.

In the camping camp, it doesn’t bode so well as the media pundits continue to report the usual economic related tag-lines as potential reasons for the camping resurgence. But it is of them that use the RTE Prime Time misnomers, that I wonder. I wonder if they have ever actually camped, more than once. The naysayers aside, I personally wouldn’t swap cooking and sleeping Al Fresco for the world.

I almost forgot to add the fact that Irish weather is just a little unpredictable.

The reality is I’m proud to boast, that we do live in such a beautiful little country. But I’m still wondering why and what it is about this element of the Irish great outdoors that makes so many others want to sleep in a tent.

According to Camping Ireland, figures from the Central Statistics Office show Irish people made 309,000 camping trips at home in 2009. They also noted the Irish Caravan and Camping council who said that altogether, Irish people and foreign tourists spent 2.4 million nights on Irish campsites in 2009, contributing €96m to the local economy. And figures are rising….

But why, you may be asking, is the Dublin gardener yabbing on about camping in this weeks article.

Gardener. There. I said it. Gar-Den-Er. Gar-Den. Get back to the garden, ye big Donegan head the ball…..

There is a point where, lets say in cooking, were one must cross over into the gardeners world and at the very least understand where and how the food is produced, grown and developed. One must as some point, get their hands dirty, even be it just fresh herbs. From this gardeners perspective, I’ll go back to the reasons and thinking behind the non-gardeners group I set up two years ago.

How does one encourage the next generation to become interested in gardening….?

The answer, in part, is quite simple. Step one ? One needs for the people to be outside first. And there in lies the key. Because, when one goes camping one doesn’t stay inside the tent for forty days and forty nights. One is outside, in the great outdoors and one develops a feeling, almost an understanding, not of how all the elements work, more how to work in tandem with them.

That may sound a bit silly, but every male will tell you there is an art to picking the perfect place to pitch for the night. It is a primary trait, followed in no particular order by mans preprogrammed function to source food and water.

My wry wit aside, the last place I went camping in was sited just by Lough Ennell. Surrounded entirely by woodland and right beside a stunning lake. So picturesque, at the time in audio, I wondered if in fact it was the most beautiful place on earth. Eamonn O’Malley, the sites owner told me how after weekends he wanders through the woods to do the various checks and tidy-ups. He explained how visiting children and their imaginations rearrange minute segments of the woodland in such varying guises en route to making their own fun. He commented how, even with the advances in technology how the game consoles are so quickly forgotten.

In Lough Key, near Boyle in Co. Roscommon where I stayed last year the campsite was set within the forest. My friend George and his family travelled with mine and similar to, within hours of arrival the elder son [5] had laid and rearranged some branches and stumps now known as furniture. The invisible living room was of course where one went to listen to the invisible radio. On one occasion I forgot to use the door and walked through an invisible wall.

There is a point where gardening and camping meet and appreciation for what surrounds takes reign. The fruits of recently made elder flower champagne for example were tasted just this week and no longer I should admit do I see this plant as a weed. Quite the opposite. Three weeks ago, I was thought how to eat a nettle leaf and I in return explained how when my hair goes wavy it is based on the theories behind the old hydrometers. It is how I predict that it is going to rain.

For the next generation, the nations schools have seen gardening become part of their everyday playground, at home, community gardens are becoming as logic as a hall door and plant life is something we are all beginning to instinctively watch out for.

Wonderland n 1 an imaginary land of marvels or wonders. 2 an actual place of great or strange beauty

Outdoors n 2 the world outside or far away from buildings; the open air

More than that again, our children are being thought about biodiversity. A thinking that encourages one, in short, to leave piles of leaves and logs, to plant flowers and food to encourage bees, bats and bird life. It is a thinking that in any space allows an appreciation for the older, newer and the fallen members of the tree family. But, what if you were surrounded by it….

No matter how I describe and no matter how I enjoy it…. the great outdoors, in Ireland for me, is simply amazing. In my mind and in my eyes the only thing that changes is the size and shape of the garden, one in which I am privelidged to be allowed enjoy.

MSR PocketRocket™ & Titan™ Kettle

msr titan kettle pocket rocket

If ever there was a camping gadget essential I had to recommend to any type of outdoors enthusiast, the MSR [Mountain Safety Research] PocketRocket™  and Titan™  kettle that I bought maybe about 7 years ago is at the top of the list. Without question one of the best investments I have ever made.

I originally bought it when I used to travel Ireland a lot on my own. Put simply, it meant a cuppa whenever I felt like it and wherever. Since then the pocketrocket and titan™ kettle have been on every camping and great outdoors trip I’ve made. As a by the way, it says it’s a kettle… it’s also a big mug, a decent bowl and a small pot in one.

pocketrocket

Of recent years they were there when the electricity went and in a world gone festival where it’s a long way to your car and the coffee can be weak it’s even done Electric Picnic. For the size of it, you’d be surprised how many times it’s finished cooking the dinner when all of the shops are closed and one runs out of gas for the big stove. Of course it has also been road tested in the wilds whilst I was landscaping in Donegal when the cuppa was most welcome until the rains eased off.

The stats below tell a better story, but above all, it is tiny and pretty much unbreakable. The gas cannister fits in the kettle and the kettle fits in your pocket. I can’t remember how much they cost now – if anyone knows you might just leave a comment.

The PocketRocket stats:

  • weight: just 3 oz. (85 g),
  • dimensions: 4 x 2 x 2 in
  • output: Boils 1 liter of water < 3.5 minutes
  • Also: Tri-sectional Windclip wind shield protects flame. Glove friendly. No maintenance.

The PocketRocket stove tied with the MSR WhisperLite stove as Backpacker Magazine Readers’ choice for the best camping stove in 2005.

The Titan™ Kettle stats:

  • Ultralight titanium: Weighs just 4.2 oz. (118 g).
  • Compact: 0.85-liter capacity
  • Also: tight-fitting lid and drip-free spout for smooth, easy pouring.

Alpinist Magazine Mountain Standards pick 2005 for “the best gear available today.” Titan Cookware is so light it “feels like it’s not even in there when it’s in your pack.”

The reason why these two pieces of MSR kit are with me still today is pretty easy when you read the story of Neil Anderson, Jim Lea and John Burroughs that are Cascade Designs. There is nothing that I love more than a man who’s been there making something for a man who’s going there.

UPDATE:

I noted the video above on Facebook and tagged MSR, as one does. I got this email from MSR

Dear Peter Donegan,
I apologize, however Mountain Safety Research recently had to remove a video post that you added to our Facebook wall.  We really appreciate your enthusiasm for MSR products and for your participation, however we would remind you to review our instructions and warnings for your own safety when using any of our stove products:
All of our stoves are for outdoor use only and the PocketRocket instructions specifically state:

CARBON MONOXIDE HAZARD

  • This stove can produce carbon monoxide, which has no odor.
  • Using it in an enclosed space can kill you.
  • Never use this stove in an enclosed space such as a camper, tent, vestible, car, or home.

Thanks so much for using MSR products!

McKenzie Holden
Assistant to Corporate Counsel

CASCADE DESIGNS, INC www.cascadedesigns.com
MSR®  Therm-a-Rest®  SealLine®   Platypus®   Tracks®
INNOVATION   •   QUALITY   •   SERVICE   

msr titan kettle

Lough Ennell

This is how I described Lough Ennell whilst I stood next to it and walked around it.

Listen!

I did record this video, but I don’t really think it does it justice….

Here are some more of my images

On the far side of Lough Ennell is Jonathan Swift Park.

Listen!

Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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St Patrick’s visit to the town in the year 435 was the first definite recording of Boyle’s existance. On this visit St Patrick noticed that there was very poor accommodation for travellers and he suggested to St Attracta, the abbess of Kilaraught, that she should provide a hostel. This she did and the town grew up around it. Boyle owes much to the fact that the great [Boyle] abbey was founded beside the town.

If ever there was a county in Ireland – nee – a town I would recommend one visit, Boyle is just that. My college head and nice guy from Kildalton Michael Conlon was from this town. I met his brother driving a Bus Eireann bus once. Long story. Nice guys. I can still hear Micks wry laugh when I told him. Not the reason I went there, but I think he’d be smiling knowing that I was visiting parks on my first ever summer holiday [albeit of 4 days only] as a horticuluralist. 😉

These are the posts I have done so far on the places I visited and can highly recommend:

What I wanted to get to [that I heard of but missed out on] and will return to see:

Necessary supplies and really kind people along my journey were found in:

  • W.J. Sloans [established 1863] hardware store on main street. You can literally find everything there. And I mean everything. I was camping – this shop is a mecca
  • Kellys Gala Express – vittles and culinary supplies. They do free range duck eggs here. The girl serving me on saturday had a smile and a laugh. I liked their window boxes too.
  • John Cryans Pub. erm… necessary supplies 😉 and an absolute gentleman. Also one of the nicest pints of guinness I have ever tasted.
  • Oliver & Peter of Loughkeyboats.com – they really did themselves proud and looked after this tourist. You can’t buy kindness and the stories Peter has in that brain are a million unwritten books combined. Go and say hello. Take a boat out. You’ll thank me for it.

That aside, the village and the peripherals are beautiful and well worth a visit. I’d reckon I spent a good four hours during the day, on each day, just pottering and wandering about and pondering the scenery.

The only thing I didn’t like…. the millenium water feature was turned off. Fix it lads. Doesn’t cost that much. Other than that 5* star rating. Love it. They say its the people that make a place. How very true. See you all again soon.

Anything I have missed out on or places I should visit…? leave a comment below and let me know.

Also, I loved the flowers in the town centre. There’s a chess players stone table and chairs right beside it. Next time I’m there, that’s were I’ll be seated. Happy days.

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View some more random images of Boyle