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Wade into a farm camping experience in Wexford

Wade into a farm camping experience in Wexford

Bannow Bay provides a home from home for the rural road trip enthusiast and families seeking to immerse in nature, allowing you to live slap bang in the middle of a working dairy farm. It’s the real deal and open all year round.

It’s in our genes. A primeval desire. To connect, to reconnect with the soil, the sun, the sea, the fresh air in our face, our hair, that deep rooted pleasure of getting back down to earth, back to our roots, immersed in nature and nurtured by Mother Earth.

We all know the feeling, the inquisitive, innocent joy of the great outdoors, scientifically proven to be good for us, mind, body and soul.

Small wonder then that for a generation, some of the best and long-lasting memories of growing up are home grown, rooted in the countryside, infused by the smells, sounds and sights of the country.

Whether it is stories of the Bean an Tí from lazy infatuated days in the Connemara Gaeltacht or trips down from the city to see and stay a while with the country cousins, packed into the back seats of Anglias, Ford Cortinas or Datsuns, the sibling squabbles and the inevitable cries of ‘are we there yet?’.

Once landed it was a different world, a different culture. The culture here was agri-culture.

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It was the smells that hit you first. Farmyard smells, a good healthy country smell. But lift the latch and it was the wafting aroma of home cooking, home baking, homely, served with real melted butter and homemade jams. In the evenings the waft of turf fires filled the air, as did midges, so many midges and as many wives’ tales as to how they might be deterred and kept at bay. Perhaps the swooping swallows the only real cure for those pesky midges.

The sounds were different too. Tractors and machines of all sorts always on the go; animals baying, bleating, or bellowing, always with something to say about God knows what; hooting pigeons imitating owls as other birds sang their hearts out in a dawn chorus, which had no regard for clocks.

The sight of cocks, stacks, reeks, and bales of hay an eye-opener for townies as were pucks of blackberries to be picked off the briars, scoffed there and then, before filling punnets for home. The treat of early morning mushrooms as they poked out their white caps in the dew. Foraging and biodiversity, before the words were even invented. It was all wild and free in the country, fishing for pinkeens and butterflies with the same net, examining bees on the brambles and day after day waiting for tiny tadpoles to transform into slippery frogs on bog holes, ponds, and marshy ground. Magical, mysterious on those excursions to the country.

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Something happened. We lost our way. We traded in the land for fancy Land Rover SUVs, Connemara for the Costa, brown bread for brioche, and the farmhouse B&B for apartments in Ibiza. Kerry, Clare, Mayo and Donegal, Wicklow and Wexford fell out of favour for guaranteed sunshine, and to hell with the mist and the midges. Ryanair was your only man.

The simple pleasures of the Irish countryside holiday

Then, in a startling metamorphosis, as those tiny tadpoles transforming into frogs, we had a rude awakening. The Pandemic. The enforced isolation and subsequent staycations spawned a new dawn for homegrown holidays and the simple pleasures of the Irish countryside. We rediscovered our roots, replenished ourselves in the delights of the great outdoors and reconnected with the land and our country cousins, our childhood memories recharged, rebooted, reborn.

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Demand for rural getaways is out the door once more

The good news is that there have never been as many options and opportunities to explore the country and enjoy the authentic flavour of a farmhouse style holiday, as many farm families have embraced and taken the opportunity to welcome visitors, diversify their farm enterprise and make advantage of the newfound demand for a genuine countryside holiday experience, with camping at its core.

One such farm family are the Wade’s of Bannow Bay.

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In June of 2021, they saw the opportunity and took the plunge to move from an Airbnb offering and go the whole hog to throw their 55-acre dairy farm open for motorhomes, and Bannow Bay Seaside Farm Motorhome Park in a sunny southeast corner of Wexford was born.

The timing was perfect. It has proved a great success and they have scarcely had time to draw a breath. They’re working hard. Their instinct was right. Their new on-farm enterprise is flying it. Their hunch coincides with a resurgence of interest in camping and outdoor holidays with demand for campervans and motorhomes through the roof last year.

Bannow Bay provides a home from home for the rural road trip enthusiasts and families seeking to immerse in nature, allowing you live and revive slap bang in the middle of a working dairy farm. It’s open all year round, and located just over half an hour from Rosslare Europort, so an ideal base to explore Wexford, the sunny south east and Ireland’s Ancient East in general.

When it comes to the farm-holiday experience, Bannow Bay Seaside Farm Motorhome Park is the real deal. It has all the smells, sounds and sights of a working dairy farm with 110-head of Friesen and Jersey cross cows. There’s hens, ducks and pigs as well, and of course cuddly chicks, ducklings and bonhams (baby pigs). The farm cat has just had a litter of kittens for good measure, and it wouldn’t be a real farm experience if you couldn’t get some homemade jams and scones each morning.

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The day is announced at sunrise by the farmyard cockrel

You won’t need a watch here as the farm runs like clockwork. The day announced at sunrise by the farmyard cockrel making his presence felt and claiming his territory, announcing the dawn to all and sundry. Soon the cows will traipse in single file to the milking parlour, as the day is measured out by chores, not clocks. It is the same with distance at Bannow Bay. The beach below is visible, only two fields stroll away, the journey not measured in miles or metres, in this historic part of The Norman Way.

The driving force behind it all is Bernie Wade, who is a busy woman from dawn to dusk since she took on her new role.

“Well, my husband David works very hard. We’re here all year round, the cows must be milked every day no matter what. We have three young boys coming up and it’s a small farm, so to give them a chance in the future and to develop a second income it made perfect sense to diversify.”

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Milking Parlour at Bannow Bay Motorhome Park
Milking time is popular with visitors

Aire style facilities

“We opened in June last year with French style Aire facilities and the response has been simply amazing. It’s hard work but it’s worth it and we meet the finest of people, many who return, and we’re delight they can enjoy and experience staying on a real family farm as well as going for a swim or a stroll on the beaches just across the fields. Then of course you have the Normans landing here in the 1169 and all that history,” Bernie is a Bean an Tí extraordinaire.

Bannow Bay Seaside Motorhome Park is not just another string in the Wade family bow, but in that of Wexford tourism, with spin-off benefits for other local shops and hostelries in the nearby villages of Wellingtonbridge and Cullenstown.

On hand to help her out are Ivan, Arthur, and David, who are all the time mucking in, or mucking out, selling spuds and scones to happy campers or rounding up other children interested in seeing the cows being milked and getting a gander at the fluffy duckling chicks along the way.

Bannow Bay Seaside Farm Motorhome Park, Wexford Y35 Y291 ; Aire style motorhome facilities on sixth generation family farm; €12 to €15 per night; refuse disposal charge by honesty box; self-contained units only; tent accompanying motorhome €10-€15. Open all year round. Dogs allowed on a leash.

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SEE ALSO:  Hook Lighthouse and the joys of Wexford

                    Wexford is for the birds and Saltee dogs

                    A new key to Kilmore Quay

About The Author

John Whelan

John Whelan is a vastly experienced midlands based journalist and editor who has contributed extensively to the country's leading national and regional titles, as well as broadcast outlets. He runs the media services company, Communicate Ireland John is a keen camping and campervan enthusiast with an interest in music, culture, heritage and outdoor pursuits. He has written for the Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Woman's Way on these topics. He is also an author, and his latest book, The Last Beekeeper, reflects his love of nature, the landscape and our shared responsibility to protect the environment. The Last Beekeeper is available to preview and purchase at Safe travels...

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