Camping in Ireland is an acquired taste, especially if you are using the good old tent - frequent rains are always a possibility and a sudden gust may blow your tent ways while you are struggling to anchor it to the ground. But that's all part of the fun for the really outdoor-sy types. But even they need to be warned that pitching your tent in Ireland is fraught with legal difficulties ...
Camping in Ireland - What to Expect
Trouble - if you are planning to stay overnight just where you like it fine. To be blunt camping is illegal in Ireland, full stop. Unless you have the explicit permission of the owner of the land you are campinf on. And the onus is on you, the camper, to secure this permission. Otherwise the gardai (police) will ask you to move on or, in more severe cases, confiscate your camping equipment.
That said it is still generally able to find a space, even off the commercial campsites.
Users of caravans and motorhomes (RV to US readers) will face similar problems. Signs prohibiting overnight parking grace many a lot, especially on the west coast and in urban areas.
What is more - access to many parking lots is blocked to higher vehicles by very solid barriers around seven feet in the air. Ignore them when pulling in and you'll seriously re-model the roof section.
It should also be noted that local youths might occasionally vent their collective spleen at campers, they are an easy target especially in rural areas. Many of these incidents arise from the perception that campers are "knackers" (a derogative term for pavee, basically nomadic Irish).
Generally the best idea is to use a commercial campsite.
Their Prices and How to Pay
Prices for campsites vary, most often connected to the standard of facilities. They also fluctuate enormously depending on the seasons. Expect anything from € 10 upwards for a decent pitch, less for "over there on the field".
Most camping sites prefer to deal in cash, credit cards are accepted by some.
What Should be Included in the Price?
A pitch and usually access to some basic communal facilities.
Camping in Ireland - How to Book
Outside the season (April to September inclusive) you might find a pitch without major problems. At all other times it is highly recommended to book ahead via travel agents, the tourist information office or on the internet.
Camping in Ireland - Etiquette
If you are a camper you know how to behave on a campsite. But it might be a good idea to let traffic pass once in a while if you are driving a motorhome or towing a caravan. Slow, wide vehicles are not very popular on Irish roads, especially during tourist season. And never, ever ignore height or width restrictions or the enigmatic sign that the road is "not suitable for large vehicles".