Add Ireland to your list of places to go truck camping! Paul Kellagher tells us about truck camping in Ireland, his European rig, snow-holing, and bivouacking!
Every now and then our email box pings with a message from a country we never imagined was an opportunity for truck camping. On May 1st, Paul Kellagher sent us an email from Ireland including an incredible photo of his European truck camping rig. Needless to say, Paul’s email stopped us in our tracks and we immediately asked if he would share his story, and more photos, with us. Get ready to see Ireland in a whole new way. It’s time to go truck camping in Ireland!
TCM: What are some of your earliest memories of camping?
Paul: I started camping in tents with friends when I was very young. Where I live in Northern Ireland is on a large inland waterway. There are lots of small islands and we just wild camped. For small boys, the islands seem like a huge wilderness. In reality we could row an open boat there from home in an hour. As I got into mountaineering, we headed off into the local hills. Then we went to Scotland to go snow-holing in winter before going to the European Alps where I have bivouacked in some spectacular locations.
TCM: Snow-holing? Bivouacked?
Paul: Imagine a very deep snowdrift on the side of a hill. Now dig a cave into the snow and move in for a few nights! That’s a snow-hole. My memory of my coldest night ever is of a few hours shivering on the Valley Blanch before heading up Mont Blanc in the wee hours.
Bivouacking is improvised overnight sleep-outs in the mountains or wilderness. No tent is used and stop-overs are generally one night on the way up a mountain.
When our kids arrived we moved on to bigger tents and briefly experimented with towing caravans. The truck camper is pure luxury in comparison.
TCM: When did you first get into truck camping?
Paul: Truck camping is very new to us. We rented a truck camping rig in Scotland for Easter of 2008 and only bought ours this year following plenty of research.
TCM: You have an awesome rig. Tell us about your truck and camper.
Paul: The truck is a Land Rover Defender 130. By American standards it’s pretty small, but by European standards it’s one of the largest four-by-four pick-ups about. It is also the most capable of all the competition.
I’m a long-term fan of Land Rovers having totally rebuilt my last one from the remains of an ex-military vehicle. We went all over Europe in it and went down to North Africa, spending several weeks in the Morrocan Sahara. So, a Land Rover was the logical choice of truck.
The camper was built to my own specifications by a company in England called Ranger motorhomes that mostly builds campers for smaller Japanese pick-ups. I also looked into a Swedish firm and two German manufacturers. Whilst the European ones were very well specified, they were also ridiculously expensive.
TCM: How did you choose your truck camper?
Paul: I run a part time mountaineering and adventure therapy business, so I needed a working vehicle that could double up for business and pleasure. The ability to demount and go exploring is also a major attraction.
A lot of our trips take us down very minor roads and tracks so a decent four-by-four opens up lots of possibilities. One recent weekend trip saw us crossing a tidal causeway and wild camping in some dunes on Omey Island in County Galway. You wouldn’t dare to attempt this in a two-wheel drive camper with poor ground clearance.
TCM: How did you get your truck camper? Did you have it shipped to you or did you get it from a dealer in Ireland?
Paul: I ordered it directly from Ranger motorhomes in England. The owner, Simon Chown, was really helpful with a can do attitude to my wishes. When it was ready, I went over on a Friday night ferry and came back the next night.
TCM: Did you have to make any modifications to your camper to make it work properly or make it legal in Ireland?