Images of empty Irish slabs took up residence in a wave riddled corner of my mind some time ago. Watching guys like Brendon Newton falling into green caverns in the old Mickey Smith videos always had me amped on making the crossing, but it was only until a few weeks ago that the opportunity really presented itself.
My brother had some work experience lined up on the west coast and fancied chasing some waves for a week before he started. A few persuasive phone calls, a clean looking swell on the charts along with the idea of spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland firmly planted into my head, and I was sold on the idea.
I now had 48 hours to book the ferry, complete and hand in work, hit Falmouth and get myself home and packed ready to leave early the next morning.
In Cork, an introduction to Beamish, led to 15 hours of heavy drinking with St. Patrick, who led us well and truly into the next day with my cousin and her family.
Full of stout, we headed west in the search of waves. A brief stop in Lahinch was followed by the mission north, to find offshores. After a windy night in the tent without pegs on Mullaghmore Head, we opted for some small barrels in Bundoran.
Without any form of map, GPS or working phones, we headed for Easkey, which we completely overshot, to find a secluded left hand reef. The surf was only a few feet but held the most perfect little crystal clear, hollow bowls to split between us.
Another Baltic night in the tent was followed by a 300km drive back down south to Ballybunion, where my brother worked at the angling festival after a rough night’s sleep in the car. I joined 300 primary school kids for a sea-life talk, to leave richer in knowledge after discovering how dolphins sleep. Winning!
That afternoon, we passed Tom Lowe and Fergal Smith at a windy Aileens, to come across a stretch of reef holding a flawless left hander. A bowling sucky take-off that ran into hollow wall… and only two guys out! We were also graced by the mystic presence of local celebrity, Dusty the dolphin. She’d accompany us as we paddled back to the peak, swimming under and around us while we tried to get our heads around the bizarre situation.
Happier than a pair of pikey’s in a scrap yard, we settled for a swift pint before hitting the hay as we knew the winds would be light the following morning.
The paddle was further than I had expected, meaning it was also a lot bigger than I had first thought. The second problem was a dropping tide: As I got close I could see it sucking water so hard off the slab that about half a foot of it was poking its ugly head out the water…..SHITE!
I couldn’t paddle all this way without getting couple, so I watched it a bit longer from the shoulder trying to suss out which ones weren’t going dry. I knew exactly where I needed to sit, but that meant back-dooring the bastard, and with no one out, my balls weren’t having it. Some of them also had a hideous side wedge running through them and I definitely didn’t fancy falling head first through one of those.
After barrel dodging a couple of wide ones, I went a little deeper but caught my nose as soon as I made it to the bottom. I lost my board from under me and scorpioned my way back up the face before being dropped onto the slab. I bounced around in knee-deep water for a bit before admitting defeat and making my way back to land. It wasn’t until half way back that I noticed two cuts across my arse framed by two big tears in my suit. Ideal.
No poorly organised surf trip is complete without some sort of travel fail at some point, and up to now, the trip had run smoothly, maybe too smoothly. We checked the wave from the previous day, but with a dropping swell and time ticking down to my return flight we sacked it off. Back at the car my brother declared he had lost the car keys, just three hours before my flight home.
After an hour spent retracing our steps through fields, it hit me….The clocks had changed last night. Props to my brother, who forked out a 120 Euro taxi ride for me to
get to the airport. By the time taxi arrived, we had under an hour to make an hour and halves journey.
The driver was a hero. Without easing off the accelerator, he made some hairy over takes and went for some full on Colin Mcrae racing lines through the winding lanes and got me to the airport only 20 minutes after check-in.
10 minutes later, I’m sat on the plane, leaving a perfect chart behind with nothing but a maxed out overdraft to cheer me up.