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Surf Culture in Ireland - A Brief Introduction
by Richie Fitzgerald
Ireland sits off the Northwest coast of Europe. We are surrounded by one of the most turbulent expanses of ocean in the world - the ‘North Atlantic’. The stretch of coast line from Portrush, Co. Antrim in the North to Tramore, Co. Waterford in the South consists of endless beaches, reefs, coves, headlands and points. This coastline gets pounded year round by big North Atlantic swells. Combine this with our limestone base, we are geographically perfect for surfing so it is no wonder Irish and foreign surfers have been relishing our world class waves since the early 1960’s.
The best part of the Irish coast for surfing is the west coast. Places like Ballybunnion, Co. Kerry, Lahinch, Co. Clare, Lewisberg Co. Mayo, Easkey, Strandhill Co. Sligo, Bundoran and Rossnowlagh Co. Donegal have all become synonymous with surfing.
Bundoran in particular is considered by many to be a surfing Eden. From the world renowned reef break ‘The Peak’ to the fun beach break waves of Tullan Strand, Bundoran has an awesome array of waves. The town has also hosted countless international events since the 1960’s; most recently being the Quiksilver World Masters Pro in 2001.
Surf shops and surf clubs have sprung up all over the country in the last 20 years offering everything from surf clinics to bars of wax. Ireland has an estimated 20,000 surfers not to mention countless visiting surfers, body boarders and surf skiers. Our surf population is growing dramatically every year, which has led to overcrowding in some of Ireland’s surfing hotspots. Fortunately Ireland has plenty of coast line with empty surf spots just a short drive away. Our west coast is blessed with warm ocean currents of the North Atlantic drift (Gulf Stream) which leaves us with mild water temperatures year round. Our winter water temperature bottoms out at 10°C (50°F) and our summer high is 21°C (70°F). Not bad when you consider Canada across the Atlantic on the same latitude has Polar Bears and ice!
Richie is a life long local surfer from Bundoran. For more than two decades He has been an ambassador for Irish surfing and his passion for the sport is particularly evident for anyone who has seen the Irish section of the hit surf movie ‘Step into Liquid’. In the movie, Richie along with his good mates ‘The Malloy Brothers,’ take Catholic and Protestant kids on cross-boarder surf sessions which is part of the LLLTS* peace and reconciliation school programme.
Today, Richie is proud to bring his skills, knowledge and expertise to ISC, a company which aims to bring the ancient and modern Irish surfing story to life through unique and original designs. Richie’s foremost role is in the idea, concept development and design process, fusing Ireland’s proud Celtic heritage and abundance of perfect waves with contemporary Irish surfing themes.
In addition to being being ISC’s representative in Ireland, Richie runs Surfworld, his family’s surfshop in Bundoran.
*Life Long Learning Through Sports
Travelling to Ireland? Please click to return to our Travel Home Page.
Fri, Jul 10, 2015
The Galway Hooker
This unique vessel, with its distinctive curved lines and bright red sails, originated in the village of Claddagh. During the 19th century, hookers supported a significant fishing industry and also carried goods, livestock and fuel. Seán Rainey is remembered for building the last of the original boats, the Truelight, for Martin Oliver who was to become the last king of the Claddagh; as king, he was entitled to white sails on his boat. Since the mid seventies, many of the old sailing craft which were on the verge of extinction have been lovingly restored and new ones have been built. During the summer months they can be seen at festivals such a Cruinniú na mBád - the Gathering of the Boats - in Kinvara.
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