Ireland – often come secondary to the Portugal and the Basque country when it comes to European surf destinations, arguably due to water temperature rather than wave quality.
We were invited to be a part of the Shore Shots Festival 2017. That was it, our chance to take a glimpse at the Irish surfing culture, the countryside and the people. After a short flight to Dublin from Copenhagen we where ready to explore the green island. Big signs was informing tourists to drive on the left side of the road, I guess they had some issues with this in the past. However, Dublin is a very beautiful city. Once we found the Pub area it appeared even more beautiful.
After we discovered Dublin to an amount of darkness where no further discovery was possible we moved on to Strandhill, a very small city close to Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. We arrived safely after confusing leftist street guidance – made it on the right side of the road for 1 kilometer though.
The next morning, we rushed down to the water to check out the waves. No one in the water and no wind. It was low tide, which we were told was not optimal for this beach, but far out we spotted something looking like a nice bank creating both lefts and rights. We quickly got in our wetsuits and started paddling for the bank. Well there the view when turning toward shore was stunning. A majestic green mountain surrounded by a low hanging cloud with little town in the foreground. We were already falling in love with this place.
The surf was great, head high waves and only the two of us in the water. The water temperature was fairly pleasant compared to Denmark and Sweden, probably around 10 degrees. A bummer that we left the water just after 1 1/2 hours with the hope that the conditions be the same in the evening and the next days…turned out that magicseaweed was right this time with the wind prediction for the next days…
Off we went to the Shore Shots Festival in Sligo. The festival was taking place in The Model, one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centers. A perfect mix of old and new architecture. And it seemed to be the perfect place for an event like this. They also had a full size cinema in there which was fantastic for watching all the surf movies. Next to screening the latest local and also international surf videos, many different brands displayed their products, such as Tullamore Dew, Look West, Monster Energy and many more. Also local Irish board shapers such as Coded Surfboards, Wax On Surfboards and Luke Underwood Creations were displaying their surfboards in the festival area. Next to showing off films, surfboards, clothing and alcohol, speeches and interviews with many different interesting people and brands were held in two conversation rooms. From Kevin Cavey, one of the very first pioneers who surfed in Ireland long before wetsuits and forecasts, to our own Surf Ears representative were sharing their stories with the visiting crowd. I highlight was an converstion between big wave surfers Barry Mottershead and Andy Cotton. The festival was filled with good people and great vibes, and oh yes, before I forget it, the food and barbecue was fantastic.
After our eyes and ears were filled with surf films, surfing culture stories, and much more information, we thought it could be a good time to catch some surf. Unfortunately, we had less luck this time, the direction of the swell had shifted and onshore winds had picked up so Standhill was a no go. We drove south with hope to find a spot more protected from the wind, we found some spots that hinted about great potential but the swell conditions let us down.
The next day we went on up the coast to see some more of the Irish landscape. It is just fantastic, empty places, long coastlines and grass everywhere, even on the beach. Just SO IRISH!
So is it worth to visit Ireland? YES totally, the nature and landscape is just amazing and very different from most other places and the people are very nice and friendly.
What about surfing in Ireland? GO THERE! Ireland is an amazing destination for surfing. We’ll definitely go there again, maybe during the fall when conditions normally more consistent. Many thanks to the Shore Shot’s Festival for having us!
See you in the water lads! (how the Irish people would say)
All pictures taken by Yannick Wolff