The first campsite on our Irish adventure was Galey Bay Campsite (as per the website) or Gailey Bay (as per the entrance sign), a small family run campsite on the banks of Lough Ree, County Rosscommon. The campsite is clearly signposted off the N61, however once you turn off the N61 the road turns in to a single lane track for just over a mile. This road was not particularly fun to drive down (due to the lack of passing places) but since it is effectively a dead end road it isn’t at all busy.
As we pulled through the gate I was surprised how small the site was, as it looked much bigger on the website. This wasn’t a problem and it definitely isn’t a criticism of the site, it is just smaller than I was expecting. The first thing I noticed about the campsite was how clean and fresh it looked – it didn’t have the “wow factor” of other campsites I have stayed at, but then Galey Bay campsite isn’t full of ornate trees, shrubs and flower beds. What Galey Bay does have is lush green grass, well pruned fir hedges and privacy/shelter from the wind – and this is what really matters.
I have to say that I am very impressed with the facilities at Galey Bay and it has more “useful” stuff than any of the campsites I have stayed at in the UK. The facilities block has the normal toilets/sinks/showers and it also has a communal lounge (with settees, TV and a shelf full of books), laundrette area, games room (with pool table) and kitchen complete with 2 sinks, a fridge/freezer, microwave, toaster and cooker – all available for use. You do have to pay for the cooker, which isn’t too much to ask is it?
The facilities block is clean but it is not immaculately clean, like many of the campsites I have stayed at in the UK. That said I have stayed on some really skanky and rank campsites in the UK (Pier Cottage on Lake Coniston instantly springs to mind – Check out my review of this campsite here. I can “rough it” with the best of them but even I found Pier Cottage squalid) and Galey Bay campsite is way, way better than these. The cleanliness where it matters, i.e. the toilets and showers, is perfectly fine. The cleanliness of the communal areas is a little questionable, but then I am guessing this is because the campers using these facilities don’t bother cleaning up after themselves, and if this is the case the owners have no chance in keeping these areas clean.
Whilst on the subject of facilities the showers are one euro for three and a half minutes, thirty seconds of which the water is very cold (it is obviously warming up). With such a small amount of time to play with I found it necessary to get undressed (it is not worth picturing – trust me) and get everything laid out and ready to go before putting the coin the meter. If you like spending ages in the shower you will end up paying quite a lot of money on showering at Galey Bay campsite.
Below is some video footage of the facilities at Galey Bay campsite so you can get a feel for them.
FACILITIES AT GALEY BAY
There is also a small shop on site, which during our stay was closed ninety nine percent of the time. On the rare occasions I did go in the shop I noticed it wasn’t stocked with food, drinks and snacks, but fishing rods, fishing gear, life jackets and golf clubs – all activities you can do via Galey Bay campsite. The other thing I noticed was that the site didn’t open until 13 June, so it had barely been open five minutes before we camped there. I assume the busy time was later on in the year and that this is why there were none of the ‘camping essentials” in the shop.
One of the best things about Galey Bay is the scenery, which is absolutely stunning. Words can’t describe how beautiful it is and none of the photos I took do it justice. It is wild, raw, totally unspoiled and exactly how it should be. The lough does offer various sporting activities yet during our four day stay at Galey Bay campsite I never saw the lough with more than a handful of people using it at any one time.
One thing I did find weird about Galey Bay was the way the site was run. All the campsites I have stayed at in the UK required pre-booking, pre-paying a deposit and then paying in full on arrival (some campsites require payment in full at the time of booking). Galey Bay is not run like this, and when we went to find the owner on the second day of our stay (he was out when we arrived and we dealt with a family member) we were told to pay when we left, and this was not only for the site fees but also the shower tokens. This kind of thing is unheard of in the UK and the owner is very trusting. The owner of Galey Bay is not only trusting but very friendly/helpful too and as an example he took the time out to map out a circular cycle ride that wasn’t too long, mainly used quiet roads, used roads that were suitable for the Brompton bikes (they have small wheels/tires and are no good for off road use) and also flat as I hate hills. How many campsite owners can you think of who would do this? Once again, I am guessing not many.
We paid 24 Euros per night for our stay at Galey Bay. Given that we had to pay extra for showers I thought the site was pretty expensive (at the time). Now I have stayed at other campsites in Ireland I now know just how cheap (and great value for money) Galey Bay is. There is a price list on Galey Bay’s website which is headed “2013 prices” and I can confirm the prices are the same now as they were back then! How many campsites do you know off that has frozen its prices for the last four years? I am guessing not many.
Galey Bay campsite is great and I would highly recommend it. If you like your boating/fishing Galey Bay is deal, if you like cycling on quiet roads Galey Bay is the ideal base, if you just want to sit in the peace and quiet and watch the world go by Galey Bay is the ideal place.
Galey Bay campsite was a great find, and should I ever return to Ireland and stay around the same area it is definitely one I would stay at without hesitation.
A few photos of Galey Bay campsite
For a taster of the scenery around Galey Bay campsite and Lough Ree feel free to check out the following:-