Is wild camping legal in Ireland? My guess is that most people who ask this question want to enjoy their first wild camping experience. The feel excited about the idea but worry about getting in trouble with an angry landowner or maybe even the police.
I know this is what put me off in the beginning.
The truth is, I think most people don’t really know where they stand in terms of the question: Is wild camping allowed in Ireland? It’s also quite a contentious topic because there is too much gray area and too little understanding with regard to the facts. In this post, I would like to tell you what I know about this issue and try my best to answer as to whether wild camping in Ireland is legal or not.
Is Wild Camping in Ireland Legal?
Let’s start with some facts.
Most of the land in Ireland is privately owned. If you camp on private land and the owner requests that you move on, you are obliged to leave. According to laws in Ireland, trespassing is not a criminal offense but rather a civil matter. Also, it is only likely to become an issue if a person refuses to leave at the landowners request.
In other words, you will not be arrested for wild camping in Ireland!
When it comes to National Parks, the rules for every park is different and some allow camping while others do not. I see some articles say that wild camping in Ireland is legal near the water or countryside but this is a very false and broad generalization.
Then is also state owned land which is managed by Coillte and this organization sometimes allows/ignores wild camping in their forests etc. There is also a landowner in Co. Cork who welcomes people to come wild camping on their Castaway Island!
That’s the official word on the legality of wild camping in Ireland. It’s still not black and white though, right? This is why opinions and open discussion is important.
My Experience: Is Wild Camping Allowed in Ireland?
I’ve been wild camping in Ireland for many years without a single complaint. I know that you might hear stories about wild campers being asked to leave but this is mostly for good reason eg. small minorities making noise or being disrespectful and maybe camping too close to a home. I recommend you don’t do any of these things.
I also recommend you remember these are very isolated cases and that nobody talks about the thousands of good, kind and respectful people that go wild camping in Ireland every year without a single complaint.
Now, I do believe land owners should (and have every right to) ask disrespectful individuals to leave.
Littering is another obvious concern and it does happen on occasion. But again, I like to think the vast majority of campers are respectful people that would never leave rubbish in the wild. Which leaves me asking the question: Should the vast majority of our population be restricted from so much nature due to the actions of a tiny minority?
I’ll let you answer that question for yourself.
Just so you know,wild camping in Scotland is legal. There is alsoAllemanstratten in Sweden which is the absolute right of every man and woman to roam free wherever they wish. These initiatives are immensely successful and this increased access is said to help improve mental health, while promoting a greater sense of inclusion.
I don’t want to spend much more time in this rabbit hole but I highly recommend reading The Book of Tresspass: Crossing the Lines that Divide Us. This is a factual account that explains the untold (forgotten) story and narrative behind “trespass”.
Is Wild Camping Safe?
But what about the dangers? Is wild camping in Ireland safe?
While there is no dangerous wildlife in Ireland, you still need to be careful and use common sense. You also need to take the right clothing and camping gear because the mountains and National Parks etc are most often remote and tricky to access.
I don’t want to lecture so let’s leave it there.
By the way, I used to be afraid of going wild camping in Ireland and worried about this incessantly. However, I have since realized the vast majority of land owners don’t even care about wild campers and they’re certainly not out there looking for them!
So here’s to not being disrespectful, not littering and enjoying the solitude of the wild.