Sport

Surfs Up. Limerick is just over an hour away from surfer’s paradise

The west of Ireland is globally recognised for having some of the most incredible surfing waves on our planet. Limerick, gateway city to the Wild Atlantic Way is a mere hour drive to accessing this incredible surf.

In an enviable position, west Clare can boast to having waves that cater for all levels and abilities. From four-year-olds to 94-year-olds, kid camps to world class big wave surfers, this unique stretch of coastline opens the sport to everyone.

                                               Surfing is Ireland’s fastest growing sport.

A native of Corbally Limerick, Mark Sadlier said: “We moved into my Parents mobile home in Lahinch during lockdown two, I’d never surfed before, now, I’m addicted.”  “Surfing should be mandatory for anyone trying to work from home with young children” he added.

 Known locally as #surfcity, Lahinch Co. Clare is a good place to start.  Considered the cornerstone of the surfing community, Lahinch is home to a plethora of surf school’s where you can rent equipment or take lessons. 

Starting at Marine Parade and running along the Promenade there are a slew of places to choose from. This is the perfect beach for beginner waves.

Brothers, Steph, and Danny Boi Skajarawoski proprietors of ‘The Green Room’ surf school Lahinch agree “Magic Seaweed’ is a great site for checking out surf conditions and tide times.”

According to locals, Mr Skajarawoski is generous with his time and a font of local surfing knowledge “For the more able intermediate surfer, try Doonbeg, Spanish Point, Fanore, Barrtrá or Cornish Wave Lahinch” Mr Skajarawoski suggested.  

More challenging waves for advanced surfers and pros are, crab island Doolin, Reilly’s Lahinch and the world-renowned monster of a wave that’s ‘Aill na Searrach’  (Ailleens).   Rip Curl, Billabong, Red bull are just some of the sponsors that have hosted big wave competitions at the 50ft Ailleens wave that draws surfers from all corners of the globe.  

“It is rare to find in such a small space, the range of waves as we have here in Clare” according to Ollie O’Flaherty.  Mr O’Flaherty went on to explain he had surfed all over the world and Clare was unique in that you could have “Groms, Mammies and Pro’s” surfing within a ten-kilometre stretch.  Mr O’ Flaherty a big wave champion surfer will be representing Ireland in the upcoming ‘World’s largest wave competition’ in Nazare, Portugal this year.

The Dangers

An open water swimming course is recommended for anyone thinking of taking up the sport or becoming a surf instructor.  Water Safety Ireland and Surf Ireland have a range of courses from lifesaving to surf-instructor level one.  Courses are held in Whites Strand Water Safety Centre, Miltown Malbay by watersafety.ie and UL sports Arena during the Winter months.

The Next Generation

Sunday morning at 10am the West Coast Surf Club meet outside ‘Ben’s surf Clinic’ on the promenade. Groms6-8yr, Kids 9-12yr and Teens get suited and booted then are coached by some of Ireland’s best surfers.

Chicks with Sticks

Lahinch Surf Instructor Kaia Phillips moved to Lahinch ten years ago.  Kaia, then 13 said: “I struggled through my teens, back then there was only the GAA or the sea. The GAA was not for me, I was shy and struggled badly with anxiety”

Ms Phillips continued to explain how her confidence grew with surfing, how she found her tribe among surfers while traveling in Australia and West Africa.  “This sport changed my life, it made me realise how important and healing our blue space is” Ms Phillips added. 

When asked how she felt about equality in the sport: “I haven’t experienced any sexism, it’s one of the things I love the most, we are all equal in the ocean” Ms Phillips said.

Five benefits to taking up Surfing.

  • An incredible tool for combating depression, anxiety and supporting good mental health
  • Travel: the surfing community’s philosophy of welcome is global
  • Muscle strengthening and balance
  • A quick and effortless way to connect with nature for urbanites
  • Better sleep

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