Motorhome owners hit back at Killarney opinions

Camper vans parked adjacent to the recycling facility at the Beech Road car park in Killarney

MOTORHOME owners have taken issue with complaints made in Killarney that visiting camper vans and caravans are using town centre car parks and popular scenic areas as their overnight base rather than checking into registered parks.

KillarneyToday.com had reported on local concerns that public car parks at Beech Road and High Street, as well as visitor attractions like Ross Castle, Muckross Gardens and the rear car park at Torc Waterfall, were being used as overnight bases by motorhome owners.

The issue had been raised with a number of local councillors and it was highlighted that the situation was unfair on the five local caravan parks who pay rates to the local authority, fees to the licensing authorities and employ staff during the tourist season.

But a number of motorhome owners have since contacted KillarneyToday.com to clarify their viewpoints, insisting that they are entitled to park their vehicles anywhere cars can park.

Two Kerry campervan owners – who didn’t want their names to be published – said if Kerry County Council doesn’t want camper vans to park overnight in public car parks, or in scenic areas, then it should close the barriers at the entrances to those areas.

They also stressed that even when they park in public areas, they are still spending money in local shops and restaurants so they were beneficial to the local economy.

The motorhome owners also made several other points and one complained that some caravan parks charging €30 per night was “unfair and exorbitant”.

In an email to KillarneyToday.com, Liam Fortune, a motorhome owner from Wexford, said the majority of motorhomers travelling to the continent go to official parking areas – or Aires –  which can be found in practically all towns and villages.

No overnight parking: A sign erected near the Old Schoolhouse in Muckross Gardens

“A lot of these Aires are run by the local council and are free. They are just a place to dispose of waste, take on fresh water and spend a couple of nights while exploring the area,” he said.

On the issue of some camper vans using hotel car parks to overnight, Mr Fortune said “the vast majority” of hotels and pubs are happy to allow overnight parking for customers who are dining or drinking in their establishments.

He said the issue of motorhome occupants using public toilets near local car parks to dispose of human waste from containers could easily be addressed if the local council provided an access point to the local sewerage system for this purpose.
Mr Fortune stressed that motorhomes and larger campervans have all the facilities they need on board, including a toilet, shower and washing and cooking facilities.
“If Kerry do not want motorhomes to visit I’m sure we could get the word out, both at home and abroad, that motorhomers are not welcome in Kerry unless they are prepared to be ripped off,” Mr Fortune said.

Other points made by motorhome enthusiasts to KillarneyToday.com insisted:

  • Motorhomes can legally park where cars can park.
  • Some of the official caravan parks in Killarney are already heavily booked and have no available slots.
  • There is a shortage of refuse bins in Killarney town for them to dispose of their waste.
  • If local authorities enact byelaws that seek to prevent motorhomes parking overnight, under the guise of temporary dwellings or camping, this can be challenged as overnight parking is not camping and the definition of temporary dwellings extends beyond that of a self-contained motorhome.
  • Any dispute over parking in such locations is a matter for civil discourse and gardaí cannot ask camper van owners to move on.
  • Authorities in other countries recognise that motorhome tourism is key to a successful recovery of the tourism industry.
  • Local authorities in other counties, including Wexford, are developing municipal motorhome parks to accommodate more visitors.
  • Cobh in Co Cork designated 30 spaces for motorhome owners, allowing them to flush wastewater into the town’s sewerage system and park overnight for €10.

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