Three towns in Cork county have also noted a surge in campervans over the past few week after they installed parking bays for motorhome users.
Standalone motorhome facilities in Ireland are rare with many users forced to pay campsite overnight fees if they want to park safely overnight and dispose of waste and access water.
In contrast, purpose built motorhome facilities are commonplace in mainland Europe with up to 3,500 aires or stopovers in France alone.
Midleton Town Council has transformed a section of its biggest carpark into a campervan facility or ‘aire’ with specialised waste disposal facilities and drinking water access. At least 10 campervans can now be parked at the site three minutes from the town centre.
Also in East Cork, Cobh has installed 10 motorhome parking bays at The Five Foot Way. Services aren’t provided, however.
Meanwhile, private parking for 15 motorhomes is provided at the Topaz Service Station where campers will be charged €7 per 24 hours. The €charge includes waste disposal services.
Mannix Point Camping and Caravaning is a traditional campsite on the Ring of Kerry. The owner, Mortimer Moriarty, said they have families from all over the country at the site. “They’re arriving for a day or two but they’re not leaving as the weather is so good,” he said. “It’s the best early July we’ve had in 30 years.”
At Bantry, John Lucey, of Eagle Point Camping, said they too have been busy in recent weeks. “It’s great to see people really enjoying camping as there is nothing worse than seeing families camping when the rain is teeming down,” he said.
Midleton Town Clerk Joe McCarthy, who worked on the Midleton campervan project with local enthusiasts, said the local council was previously unaware of the particular needs of campervan tourists.
The campervan bays have been developed at Midleton’s biggest carpark close to its leading tourism attraction, the Jameson Distillery.
“Colm McCarthy of the Phoenix Motorhome Club informed us how important it is for motorhomes users to know the best places to park and that they are welcome to use these spaces. In the end, we ended up going beyond our initial plans and established particular services,” he said.
Campervan users can dispose of toilet or black waste at the town’s paying superloos which are in the carpark while facilities are also in place for grey or sink waste. A vandal-proof water tap is also in situ.
Waste from a chemical toilet needs to be disposed of carefully as if they are just thrown into a foul sewer, it can give rise to odours and disease.
Mr McCarthy said: “It’s about letting people know we are open for campervan business. We’re getting people in now as we’ve put signs at the entrance to the town informing motorhome users that they are very welcome here and directing them to the motorhome bays. Even if they just come and go for a meal in a local restaurant or visit the distillery, we’re glad to see tourists stopping in the town”.
Up to this, ‘aires’ were only available in Askeaton, Co Limerick, and in Northern Ireland.