I fell in love with Cape Clear and its charms

We continue our series on some of Cork’s favourite glamping sites. RICHARD GORDON talks to the new owner of Chléire Haven Camp Site on Cape Clear Island - the first glamping site set up in Ireland back in 2009
I fell in love with Cape Clear and its charms

Chléire Haven, Cape Clear Island, Co Cork. This became the first glamping site in Ireland, back in 2009, when Lyndy Davies’ mum Sally and her partner Dave decided to take over the campsite and introduce yurts.

THERE’S a new owner taking over the glamping site on Cape Clear Island - but she’s no stranger to the place.

Lyndy Davies, becomes the official business owner shortly of Chléire Haven Campsite - but it’s been in good hands, as it was owned by her mum Sally and partner Dave.

Here Lyndy tells us more about the campsite, on the island off the West Cork coast, as we continue our series on some of Cork’s glamping sites.

What was the initial inspiration behind the opening of the

campsite?

It was my mum and partner who were the inspiration behind the opening of the campsite.

My mum’s partner, Dave, had spent six months on Cape in 1991 and fell in love with the island and its people. When he and my mum, Sally, got together, they decided to leave their home in the wet west coast of Scotland and move down to sunny Cape Clear.

People laugh when they tell them that, but it’s true, Cape Clear has its own climate and we see far more sunshine than the mainland!

Sally had been in the hotel industry for many years, so this was an extension of that, and Dave was the hands-on, creative one, who had the idea of building a glampsite.

Owner Lyndy Davies.
Owner Lyndy Davies.

“When they decided to take over the campsite, they wanted to make it a family and couples holiday destination – instead of having groups – so they introduced the first glamping site in Ireland in 2009; with traditional Mongolian yurts and (then) tipis.

“We now have eight yurts and four bell tents, along with some families and couples bringing their own tents (all to be pre-booked) who can now enjoy the whole island and what it has to offer.

What did you do before running a camp site, and how has the transition been?

I came over to Cape Clear in 2010, initially for six months to work at Cluain Mara B&B, also doing the odd shift in two (of the three pubs here) Cotters and CDMs. I fell in love with the island and its charms and ended up moving here permanently! (This is a common tale for many who come to visit Cape!)

I worked in the local shop/restaurant until 2016 before starting at Chléire Haven. I’ve always worked in hospitality but hadn’t ever had an outdoor job! There’s certainly a lot more physical work on a day-to-day basis.

As Sally and Dave were looking to retire, I took over the management role in 2017 and am delighted to say I will shortly be the new owner of the business.

Does island life bring its own set of challenges?

The biggest challenge of island life is that for many businesses we have a very short season, April-October, so we have to put the hours in during the summer to keep us going through winter! We have fantastic services here which makes life easier, the local co-op provides us with fuel/coal/oil, the ferry transports all our shopping/deliveries and the local shop provides us with daily necessities.

Describe a day in your life on Cape Clear during the peak season.

I spend the first couple of hours of the morning replying to email enquiries then head down to the camp site. We clean the communal areas, sort out recycling/refuse, take customer luggage to the ferry, and collect luggage from any new arrivals. Back to the campsite to change over the yurts and bell tents. We usually aim to finish this in time for lunch before the next ferry comes in (sometimes lunch has to wait until 4pm) check-in is from 3pm so this can take up to an hour, depending on how many new arrivals we have.

The rest of the day is spent maintaining the grounds and chores! (A lot of grass cutting! Washing/drying laundry, lots and lots of laundry! More emails, chopping wood, cleaning communal areas again, more laundry, cup of tea and a chat at any opportunity!)

When we finish in the evening there may be a cheeky pint (or two!) on the way home, then dinner (if we haven’t indulged at Mary’s Chipper!) then another couple of hours answering emails.

Chléire Haven, Cape Clear Island, Co Cork
Chléire Haven, Cape Clear Island, Co Cork

What is it about your camp site that brings you most joy?

It brings great satisfaction when customers tell you how much they’ve enjoyed their stay and book again for next year before they leave.

It’s lovely to see children making new friends and playing together, usually entertaining our dog Milo, he seems to be the star of the show.

When we drive into the camp site in the morning, all you can hear is the children saying “Milo’s here!” He even received his very own Christmas card last year from his new friends!

If you could describe the spirit of your campsite/land in one sentence, what would it be?

As our logo says, Chléire Haven is the place to relax, completely!

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