Cork family 'escaped' city life to set up tipi campsite in countryside

As we continue our series on glamping sites in Cork, RICHARD GORDON catches up with a family who decided to pack in pensionable jobs and escape city life, to develop a tipi campsite in West Cork
Cork family 'escaped' city life to set up tipi campsite in countryside

Dunbeacon Campsite in Durrus, West Cork

“AFTER 10 years in Cork city, we knew it just wasn’t for us...”

And so an adventure to the countryside began for Paddy and Nataša Callinan.

They are the duo behind Dunbeacon Campsite in Durrus, West Cork, nestled on the northern side of the Mizen Peninsula, looking across the bay. This site offers a range of different services and provides visitors with the chance of getting away from all the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Surrounded by West Cork wildlife, this environmentally conscious site will be of interest to anyone who is looking ahead to the summer, dreaming of campfires, blazing sunsets, blue waters and green grass.

We caught up with Paddy and Nataša in our Glamping feature series.

Paddy and Nataša Callinan who run Dunbeacon Campsite Campsite location: Durrus, West Cork
Paddy and Nataša Callinan who run Dunbeacon Campsite Campsite location: Durrus, West Cork

What was the initial inspiration behind the opening of the campsite?

After ten years in Cork city, we knew it just wasn’t for us, so we planned an escape to the countryside.

When the opportunity came up to buy a campsite, it seemed like the right thing to do. 

That initial campsite fell through but it started a process that ultimately landed us in Dunbeacon.

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

We were both working good governmental, pensionable jobs with a mortgage, etc. We moved down to enjoy the laid back West Cork lifestyle and it’s been nothing but hard work since.

We moved down in September, 2019, and had great plans to open up in 2020. We had a contingency plan just in case things didn’t go to plan. Unfortunately, contingency for a global pandemic wasn’t on the list – not even on page two of the plan! 

Dunbeacon Campsite Campsite location: Durrus, West Cork
Dunbeacon Campsite Campsite location: Durrus, West Cork

But we muddled on and finally got to open in the summer of 2021 and all the hard work was worth it.

Tell me about the design of your tipis, and where did that influence come from?

I have no idea where the influence for building tipis came from. All I know is that the Universe told me to go down to West Cork and build tipis and I didn’t really have much choice in the matter.

Our tipis come from Bend in Oregon and are supplied by the same company that made the tipis for the film Dances With Wolves. 

Those ones were made of buffalo hide, which is a bit too Bear Grylls – even for us! Ours are the campground model and come with a king size bed. They really are amazing structures, both inside and out.

Along the way, we met Tipi Dave, who helped us put them up, and I think they are the nicest tipis you will see in Ireland.

What does the biodiversity of your area mean to you, and how does your campsite intertwine with it?

We live at the end of the line and things are still pretty wild around here. Our neighbour spotted a deer at midnight strolling up our driveway, whilst we were in the depths of our sleep oblivious to it all.

The campsite is surrounded by wildlife and nature.
The campsite is surrounded by wildlife and nature.

We have bats in the roof to the south and bees in the roof to the west – all here when we moved in and thriving! Numbers of bees are probably up since we planted a meadow garden (seeds courtesy of Fruit Hill Farm – really good seeds) and with another two meadow gardens planned for this year there will be no shortage of biodiversity on the site.

We’ve had a cuckoo up the back forest the last two summers.

You are essentially camping in the middle of a nature reserve, but there is a gravel track outside your pitch and electricity hook-up points all over the place.

What is it about your campsite that brings you most joy?

The fact that we actually did it. People said we were mad and could never do it – they got one of those things wrong!

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

We are ’70s kids and that’s what our place is – relaxed ’70s vibe!

See dunbeaconcampsite.ie/

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