AN all-weather, glamping site is to open on Bere Island in time for the summer in what’s a €600,000 eco-friendly development.
Wild Atlantic Glamping is the brainchild of Caitríona Hanley, whose father is from the island and who spent idyllic family holidays there. Her uncle Barry Hanley runs Bere Island Holiday Homes.
In the pipe line for eight years, the development got planning in 2014 and was being worked on by Caitríona for two years before this.
It will be located at the East end of the island in Ardagh, just a mile from Rerrin Village and is both the island’s first camping and glamping site.
This is an entirely new departure for Caitríona who has worked as a designer and project manager at MK Illumination a professional Christmas lighting company for over 10 years.
She grew up in Crosshaven and is now living in the city and says she wants to integrate her new business into island life.
‘Bere Island has a strong, vibrant community, evident in the hugely popular initiatives such as the weekly Park Run, Midsummer Run, the Bere Island Festival, Heritage Week and the Bere Island Watersports Club which runs summer sailing courses for children and adults that have gone from strength to strength in the past few years. My hope is to embrace this sense of place and work with local businesses and the community,’ she added.
With this in mind, Wild Atlantic Glamping will have a multi-purpose room, designed to diversify the offering for both visitors and locals.
The space will be available to hire for group activities such as yoga, meditation, foraging, survival skills, team building and arts. The site has direct access to the sea, perfect for sea swimming, diving, kayaking and sailing.
The site itself will feature eight all-weather canvas bell tents which will each be equipped with a wood burning stove.
Each can accommodate a comfortable double bed, with up to two additional camp beds for families, or four single beds for a group of friends.
Guests will have the luxury of their own private deck where they can sit and relax looking out over Bantry Bay. The site will also welcome those who wish to pitch their own tents. All guests will have the use of the utility building with toilets, showers, laundry, cooking, and dining facilities.
The development was designed by architect, Alan Macilwraith from JCA Architects. A cousin of Caitríona’s, he also has a strong family connection to the area, so it was particularly important to him that this project was designed to have minimal impact on this unspoilt area of natural beauty.
Alan’s recent projects have included military heritage sites, Spike Island and Fort Camden, so it is not surprising that he took design inspiration from the existing military buildings on Bere Island, designing an attractive building that functions well and responds to the topography of the site.
Caitríona explains how this will be an eco tourism business and adopt the ‘leave no trace’ principle.
‘What’s unique about it is that it’s designed to function in all weather conditions - from the stoves in the tents to the drying area for wetsuits to a covered deck where guests can relax and enjoy the views of Hungry Hill,’ she said.
Family-run local building company, Feeley Construction, are the main contractor on this part Leader-funded project who injected €150,000 into the plan and without whom Caitriona said it wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.
‘Their assistance was essential. The project could not have gone ahead without the grant from Leader. The overall investment will be around €600,000. AIB have also been very supportive of the project,’ she said.
The site will be open for business from Easter to the end of September every year. Caitríona will base herself on the island from March to September and will initially employ two part time workers to help out in the project.