Go Wild Magazine http://gowildmagazine.com The Wild Atlantic Way Experience Mon, 05 Mar 2018 18:55:46 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 GO WILD TOURISM MAGAZINE SUMMER 2017 DOWNLOAD NOW @www.gowildmagazine.com http://gowildmagazine.com/go-wild-tourism-magazine-summer-2017-download-now-www-gowildmagazine-com/ Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:39:01 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2345 The post GO WILD TOURISM MAGAZINE SUMMER 2017 DOWNLOAD NOW @www.gowildmagazine.com appeared first on Go Wild Magazine.

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GO WILD TOURISM SUMMER 2017

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Discover your Wild Atlantic Way with Go Wild Magazine’s new Video commercial http://gowildmagazine.com/discover-wild-atlantic-way-go-wild-magazine/ Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:31:15 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2339 The post Discover your Wild Atlantic Way with Go Wild Magazine’s new Video commercial appeared first on Go Wild Magazine.

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60 seconds with Louis Mulcahy http://gowildmagazine.com/2333-2/ Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:24:11 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2333       60 SECONDS WITH LOUIS MULCAHY POTTERY   Does this creative flair run in your family? I think so. It manifests itself in different ways; musically in my father’s and Lisbeth’s families and in the gardening talent of my mother. All our children and grandchildren are visually and/or musically creative.   What was […]

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60 SECONDS WITH LOUIS MULCAHY POTTERY

 

  1. Does this creative flair run in your family?

I think so. It manifests itself in different ways; musically in my father’s and Lisbeth’s families and in the gardening talent of my mother. All our children and grandchildren are visually and/or musically creative.

 

  1. What was the driving force behind your decision to move from Dublin to Dingle in 1975

From our earliest days together my wife Lisbeth and I had a dream of moving to live in a rural setting preferably near mountains and the sea.  We achieved that aim by setting up our pottery on that narrow strip of land at the tip of the Dingle peninsula between the Atlantic and Cruach Mhárthain.

 

 

  1. Where does the inspiration come from in your designs

It is an instinctive thing. I create all my designs on the wheel. I may have a vague idea of what I am aiming at before I sit down and start throwing. Then I go through a process of altering, refining, refining again and again. In Becket’s words: Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

 

  1. What’s your favourite Wild Atlantic Way place to visit and why?

Besides where I live, I don’t have any one favourite place. You could chuck me down at any spot along this wild western coast and I would happily survive and enjoy life. However this Dingle Peninsula with its glorious heritage and still living Irish language coupled with the dozens of interesting exponents of almost all genres of artistic endeavour has to be my favourite. Life is always interesting here.

 

  1. How much do you enjoy passing on your skills to your assistants?

I don’t enjoy it at all. I am not clear headed enough to be a good teacher. Worse, I have no patience. Nowadays I get others to do the teaching of skills. However we operate like the old masters of European painting, I being the studio leader, design and make the first examples of everything we produce. After that it is up to the repetition throwers and painters to make multiples of my designs. I make all the one off pieces.

 

  1. Where does Louis Mulcahy escape to on holidays?

Very often to my daughter Jette and her family near Roskilde in Denmark. Sometimes to European cities and very rarely further afield.

I am contented here at home where I spend much of my free time writing and singing.

 

  1. How does your work in Dingle compare to your previous lifestyle in Dublin?

I had an exciting existence in Dublin. I worked as a TV cameraman in Telefis Eireann in its early days. I enjoyed every moment of my twelve years there. But we wanted to live in the West and having driven up and down the coast we chose Dingle. It was a different kind of excitement here. Despite my years of learning the potters craft while in Dublin, I found I had to learn on the job how to work in a professional manner. Added to that we set about learning Irish because we could have done untold damage to the fragile fabric of its existence if we ran the workshop through anything other than the native tongue of most of our employees at that time. It was tough but eventually rewarding. For a time we had between sixty and seventy employees. The recession put paid to that and we are right back to between thirty and forty now. In the winter that falls to thirty or just under that.

 

  1. What advice do you have for any young Craft entrepreneur today

Have a thorough knowledge and working background in your particular discipline before you start. Be prepared for hard work and initial disappointments. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

 

 

  1. From all of the amazing designs that you have created over 40 years which piece or pieces really stand out?

I have become too old for throwing the four foot high pots. I enjoyed making them, but they require too much strength.  I love the masks and druids. The druids are big masked figures made by joining slabs of clay. They are less physically taxing than the thrown pots. But they, just like the big thrown pots, are susceptible to exploding or cracking in the kiln. So successful examples of these big pieces are the one that really excite me.

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60 seconds with Cathal Quinn, CEO Flanagans on the Lake http://gowildmagazine.com/60-seconds-cathal-quinn-ceo-flanagans-lake/ Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:18:17 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2329     60 Seconds with Cathal Quinn If you’re visiting the beautiful shores of Lough Derg and looking for a good bar or restaurant, look no further than Flanagan’s on the Lake. Situated in the twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe and operated by Tipperary man, Cathal Quinn, Flanagan’s will allow you to sit back […]

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60 Seconds with Cathal Quinn

If you’re visiting the beautiful shores of Lough Derg and looking for a good bar or restaurant, look no further than Flanagan’s on the Lake.

Situated in the twin towns of Ballina and Killaloe and operated by Tipperary man, Cathal Quinn, Flanagan’s will allow you to sit back and enjoy a drink or a meal, while taking in the beautiful scenery of the area.

Give us some background on the Flanagan’s on the Lake story.

Flanagans on the Lake is a beautiful bar restaurant situated on the shores of Lough Derg in the twin towns of Ballina Killaloe Co Tipperary. It caters for tourists and locals alike, providing fine foods wines and spirits. After finding myself unemployed in 2009 due to the economic crisis, an opportunity arose to lease the property known as Flanagan’s on the Lake.

A former project manager in the construction industry, I managed to grow the restaurant and bar business during bleak economic times. Money was scarce and people’s confidence was very low during 2010 and 11; you had to be very inventive to get people out to dine and spend.

By 2013 the business was starting to grow and I approached the banks with a view to buying the business. It was very difficult to raise capital during this time, especially for anything in the hospitality sector, but my proposal and figures were sound and I managed to get it over the line.

What features have you added to Flanagan’s over the years?

I have added some features to Flanagan’s over the years: the expansion of the dining terrace overlooking the Shannon. The building of the Whiskey Tower was the next project – a purpose built room where Flanagan’s Whiskey Club meet once a month, surrounded by some of the finest whiskeys from around the world. Most recently the addition of self-catering apartments to the rear of Flanagan’s have been a great success as many patrons who visit can stay beside the venue and in the heart of the village of Ballina.

How important are the team that you have built up over the years?

Many of the team that currently work at Flanagan’s have been there for the past eight years which is not a common feature of the hospitality business. We are very much a team here at Flanagan’s – a trait that I have transferred from my project management days. We break the year down into projects: high season, low season, festival season and Christmas. This system helps staff to focus on the tasks at hand, allows for holiday time and, as each project has a start, middle and end, helps with motivation. When you get good people to work within your business, you need to look after them – especially in hospitality.

What are the biggest everyday challenges of working in the hospitality and food industry?

Standards, quality and being consistent are the biggest everyday challenges of the hospitality sector. Flanagan’s is open from 10.30am to past midnight, seven days a week. So maintaining standards across three kitchen teams is a challenge. Good relationships with your suppliers is key. A good tip is always pay on time – you tend to get a better service if you do.

Your Whiskey tower at Flanagans is drawing visitors from across Europe. Why?

The Whiskey Tower at Flanagan’s has been a great success with visitors from around the world making their way there to have a masterclass in whiskey and explore the wonderful world of whiskey. There has been a revolution in Irish whiskey worldwide and interest especially from the European and American market is driving a huge growth in sales. This market has a long way to go. Without leaving the tower, you can take a trip through time from the Irish monks making Uisce Beatha leading to the birth of whiskey, and from Ireland to Scotland to the USA sampling different whiskeys as you go through the story.

What the next big development plan for Flanagan’s on the Lake?

The next big development for Flanagan’s is our expansion plans. This Autumn we are opening a new premises in Limerick City. Limerick is on the up and I feel there is room for our brand of hospitality. Work has already commenced on the new premises at 31 Thomas street Limerick. Flanagan’s Town House and Whiskey Cellar will cater for the strong local winter trade while also focusing on the growth of tourist numbers in Limerick during the summer.

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Click to read our latest issue http://gowildmagazine.com/go-wild-magazine-for-free/ Wed, 18 May 2016 22:24:29 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2222 Enjoy every issue of Go Wild Magazine for free below including our brand new food magazine “Go Wild The Food Experience”.  

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Enjoy every issue of Go Wild Magazine for free below including our brand new food magazine “Go Wild The Food Experience”.

 

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A Golfer’s Paradise http://gowildmagazine.com/a-golfers-paradise/ Tue, 10 May 2016 19:48:56 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2102 Stunning vistas, rolling sand dunes, dramatic cliff edge backdrops – golfing along the Wild Atlantic Way’s world-class championship golf courses is every golfer’s dream. COUNTY SLIGO GOLF CLUB, CO SLIGO Set in the picturesque seaside village of Rosses Point, the 27-hole complex County Sligo Golf Club course is regarded as one of the great championship […]

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Stunning vistas, rolling sand dunes, dramatic cliff edge backdrops – golfing along the Wild Atlantic Way’s world-class championship golf courses is every golfer’s dream.

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COUNTY SLIGO GOLF CLUB, CO SLIGO

Set in the picturesque seaside village of Rosses Point, the 27-hole complex County Sligo Golf Club course is regarded as one of the great championship links courses.The club is home to the famous West of Ireland Open amateur championship (since 1923), and has hosted many other prestigious events including the Home Internationals, the Irish Close and the Irish Professional Matchplay Championship.

 

OLD COURSE, BALLYBUNION, CO KERRY

Having gained a reputation as one of the best links golf courses in the world, The Old Course, Ballybunion, is covered with rolling sand hills and grassy dunes. The challenging layout features narrow, contoured fairways that feel as though they are tunneled through the dunes. The already beautiful landscape is further enhanced by the stunning views of the Atlantic.

WATERVILLE GOLF LINKS, CO KERRY

Continually rated among the top five courses in Ireland, and in the top 20 links courses in the world, Waterville Golf Links is an exceptional experience. Over 100 years old, Waterville combines sand dunes, gorse and native grasses, firm fairways, sod faced bunkers and subtle putting surfaces, all intertwined by the ever-changing weather.

OLD HEAD GOLF LINKS, KINSALE, CO CORK

Built on 220 acres of land and jutting out into the Atlantic, Old Head Golf Links offers stunning ocean views, and an exceptional golfing experience. The links and practice area occupy 180 acres, with the remaining 40 acres taken up with unspoilt cliffs, which frame the course. With the ever-changing sea breezes, the course provides a stern test to the touring pro and the high handicapper alike.

DOONBEG GOLF LINKS COURSE, CO CLARE

Designed by two-time British Open Champion Greg Norman, the world renowned 18-hole championship, Doonbeg Golf Links Course at Trump International Golf Links & HotelTM Ireland (formerly the Doonbeg Golf Club), spans 1.5 miles of crescent shaped beach and century old sand dunes along Doughmore Bay. The County Clare golf course was officially opened in 2002 and immediately earned the prestigious title of Golf Digest’s Best New International Course.

ENNISCRONE GOLF CLUB, CO SLIGO

Repeatedly a top-20 links course in Golf Digest’s review of Irish golf courses, Enniscrone Golf Club’s Dune course is now considered one of Ireland’s top-ranked championship links courses. Set against the spectacular backdrop of the Nephin and Ox Mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean, Enniscrone is a must-play for golf enthusiasts.

LAHINCH GOLF CLUB, CO CLARE

Ranked among the world’s greatest links courses, The Old Course, one of two 18-hole courses at Lahinch Golf Club, is a classic seaside links layout with rolling greens and undulating fairways. The towering sand dunes that cover the landscape guarantee that golfers will encounter several blind shots. The unpredictable winds coming off the ocean add an interesting twist to the round.

CARNE GOLF LINKS, BELMULLET, CO MAYO

Lying amidst one of the most beautiful, breathtaking and unspoilt of areas in Ireland, Carne Golf Links is famed the world over for its exceptional golf course and the surrounding white sandy Atlantic beaches that stretch for miles. Overlooking Blacksod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Carne Golf Links was the last links course to be designed by the late Eddie Hackett and it is now believed by many who have played it to his greatest challenge.

PORTSALON GOLF LINKS, CO DONEGAL

One of the oldest golf courses in the world, with golf being played here since the 1880s, the Portsalon Golf Links is ranked as one of the top courses in Ireland by Golf Digest. The club was one of the founder members of the Golfing Union of Ireland, the oldest golfing union in the world. Stretching along Ballymastocker Beach, which was voted the second most beautiful beach in the world by Observer readers, golfers at Portsalon are in for a treat of the senses and a true golf links test.

TRALEE GOLF COURSE, CO KERRY

Built by Arnold Palmer, Tralee Golf Course has all the ingredients of an exceptional Irish golfing experience – beautiful surroundings, stunning views of the Atlantic, and a challenging course. One of the finest courses in Ireland, Palmer chose it to be his first golf course in Europe.

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Destination Food http://gowildmagazine.com/destination-food/ Fri, 19 Feb 2016 12:55:35 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2150   The Wild Atlantic Way is synonymous with the country’s top restaurants and producers and if you review Go Wild Food Magazine  on the Home page,which published in February 2016, you will have multiple choices of the finest dining available along the Wild Atlantic Way    WILD HONEY INN Looking for a relaxed and inviting […]

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The Wild Atlantic Way is synonymous with the country’s top restaurants and producers and if you review Go Wild Food Magazine  on the Home page,which published in February 2016, you will have multiple choices of the finest dining available along the Wild Atlantic Way 

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WILD HONEY INN

Looking for a relaxed and inviting meal of excellent quality and a reasonable price? At Wild Honey Inn in Lisdoonvarna, chef-proprietor Aidan McGrath’s food emphasis is on the wild, free-range, seasonal and local. Among the many awards, there is the Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’ Award – the first pub in Ireland to scoop the award. Owned and run by the McGrath family, Wild Honey Inn dates from 1860 in the small town of Lisdoonvarna, and has a wealth of old world charm and character, including open log fires.

It was completely refurbished in 2009 to blend contemporary and traditional styling in the unique setting of the Burren, but still staying a proper ‘pub’. Kate Sweeney and Aidan McGrath combine modern comforts for the traveller with the intimacy of a family-run inn.Aidan’s style is influenced by the rugged West Coast of Ireland, with its abundance of produce. The bar offers what Aidan calls ‘modern bistro style’, with ribeye steaks, rare-breed pork, local lamb, organic salads and cheeses, fresh local fish and shellfish, plus smoked salmon from the local smokehouse. Wild Honey Inn is also an ideal base for walking or cycling in the Burren National Park.

wildhoneyinn.com

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1826 ADARE

A recent winner of the ‘Michelin Bib Gourmand’ – (Good Food at Modern Prices) award, 1826 Adare is another of the Wild Atlantic Way’s favourites. Chef Wade Murphy has worked in some of the top kitchens in London, Chicago and Egypt and was also recently awarded best chef in Limerick, along with best restaurant with 1826 Adare. The rustic cottage setting and chic country décor, paired with food offering freshness, simplicity and keen pricing to match, make a winning combination.

Seasonal local produce is the foundation of Wade’s food philosophy, so menus change on a monthly basis, and there are blackboard specials such as whole sole, braised meats and so on changing daily. Signature dishes include: Warm Chicken Liver salad, with Piccalilli, pickles and Bally greens and Head to Tail Free Range Pork Tasting Plate. Situated in the picturesque village of Adare, Wade and his wife and business partner, Elaine strive to maintain the old world charm and character of the cottage, while offering modern Irish cooking, matched with friendly and attentive service.

1826adare.ie

 

kellys-kitchen-go-wild-magazine-wild-atlantic-wayKELLY’S KITCHEN

A good Irish breakfast is hard to beat, and Kelly’s Kitchen, serves up among the best breakfasts in the west. This pretty day time café has a prime spot on the main street of Newport, Co Mayo with a warm and welcoming country feel, is a favourite among locals. With Shauna Kelly at the front of house and her mum in the kitchen cooking up her husband, renowned butcher Sean Kelly’s homecured bacon and homemade puddings and sausages, grilled to perfection in the kitchen.Try the Full Irish or the Mini Irish – either one will set you up for the day. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, try the homemade Granola, or a hearty bowl of Oatmeal Porridge with homemade seasonal fruit compote. For lunch, try the house speciality – Kelly’s Mixed Gourmet Sausage Plate served with homemade brown bread, tomato relish and a side salad, or the Award Winning Black and White Pudding Plate served in the same manner.

Newport, Co Mayo 098 41647

HAMPTONS

Sumptuous surroundings, with a relaxed atmosphere is part of the charm of Hamptons. With the customdesigned wood-fired Robata ovens and grills, which are unique to Ireland, maximum flavour and succulence in all Hamptons’ steaks, chicken and seafood is guaranteed. Using the best beech wood charcoal in all its cooking, a unique signature taste is achieved. All meats are marinated overnight in Hampton’s secret recipe for a taste you’ll never forget. Hampton’s aims to source all its produce locally and organically, with most of the produce coming from Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and Galway.

www.hamptonsgrill.ie

 

 

 

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Five Minutes With Fiona Monaghan http://gowildmagazine.com/fiona-monaghan/ Thu, 28 Jan 2016 11:48:53 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2104 This piece is from issue two of Go Wild Magazine.  Fiona Monaghan, Head of Operations at Fáilte Ireland West & Mid West tells Go Wild about the most enchanting aspects of the Wild Atlantic Way. What is it about the Wild Atlantic Way that is so appealing? The appeal of the Wild Atlantic Way is […]

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This piece is from issue two of Go Wild Magazine. 

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Fiona Monaghan, Head of
Operations at Fáilte Ireland
West & Mid West tells
Go Wild about the most
enchanting aspects
of the Wild Atlantic Way.

What is it about the Wild Atlantic Way that is so appealing?

The appeal of the Wild Atlantic Way is in its’ simplicity. The landscape has been here since the beginning of time and what we in Fáilte Ireland have done is present the West Coast of Ireland as a unified tourism experience of scale and singularity to encourage more visitors to come and holiday in the West of Ireland. While the Atlantic Ocean is the key to bringing it all together, it is truly amazing to see how the landscape changes as you move along the Wild Atlantic Way from the sheltered harbours of West Cork to the vast headlands in North Mayo and Donegal. Not only does the landscape change, but so too do the customs, traditions and dialects as one travels from North to South or South to North.

Apart from the breathtaking scenery and a rich history, what does the Wild Atlantic Way have to offer that makes it unique?

The long-term success of the Wild Atlantic Way will undoubtedly be the people and the communities of the West Coast of Ireland. Ireland has long been recognised internationally for our “warm, friendly people” and nowhere is this more evident than in the towns, villages and communities dotted along the West Coast.

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Loop Head, Image by Failte Ireland

Any insider tips on not to be missed gems?

One Hidden Gem that is starting to get recognition in the last number of years is the Loop Head Peninsula in County Clare. Kilkee has long been a favourite seaside destination, but the real experience is to head out along the peninsula and explore the villages and hamlets before arriving at the lighthouse. Another must visit Hidden Gem is the Erris Peninsula in North Mayo. Recently voted the Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland by the Irish Times, it is well worth a visit. There is a wealth of heritage and culture to unearth dating back 5,000 years not to mention the opportunities to take to the water whether it is an afternoon coasteering or kayaking in the pristine waters of Broad Haven Bay, Blacksod Bay and Elly Bay. For those with good sea legs, a visit to the Inishkea Islands is a memorable day out that will stay with you for a long time. Heading further north, the Fanad Peninsula in Donegal and the recently restored Fanad Lighthouse is a great hidden gem with captivating stories to told from the sinking of HMS Laurentic during the First World War to the busy shipping lanes crossing the Atlantic in times gone by. The views from the top of the lighthouse are not to be missed.

What would be your top tip for gaining the most enjoyment out of a Wild Atlantic Way trip?

Have an open mind – don’t tie yourself down to scheduled itinerary, allow yourself the time to slow down, stop and explore and get lost ‘spiritually’ (not physically although that’s not too bad either) in a place. Invest in a good rain jacket and a wetsuit if you plan on really embracing the Wild Atlantic Way. As the famous Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen once said, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. Most importantly, stop and talk to people – don’t be afraid to ask them about their local area and you’ll be in for a treat of stories and anecdotes that will enrich your visit. Most importantly, don’t try to do it all in one visit, the Wild Atlantic Way offers reasons to keep coming back time and time again and as the seasons change.

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Ireland in All its Glory http://gowildmagazine.com/ireland-in-all-its-glory/ Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:13:18 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2096 Shot on a family holiday to Ireland, Jonathan Haring manages to capture the true beauty of our majestic coast!  

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Shot on a family holiday to Ireland, Jonathan Haring manages to capture the true beauty of our majestic coast!

 

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The Wild Atlantic Waves http://gowildmagazine.com/the-wild-atlantic-waves/ Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:39:08 +0000 http://gowildmagazine.com/?p=2079 This piece is from issue one of Go Wild Magazine. You can buy the issue here. When you think of the World’s top surfing destinations, you immediately conjure up images of tropical idylls with golden sands, stooping palm trees and perfectly barrelling aquamarine waters. Hawaii, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia boast some of the biggest waves […]

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This piece is from issue one of Go Wild Magazine. You can buy the issue here.

When you think of the World’s top surfing destinations, you immediately conjure up images of tropical idylls with golden sands, stooping palm trees and perfectly barrelling aquamarine waters. Hawaii, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia boast some of the biggest waves on the planet, as well as some of the most talented surfers. However, the West coast of Ireland, with its relentless thrashing from the Atlantic Ocean, has quietly become home to some of the best waves north of the Equator, and as a result, has churned out a slew of super-skilled adrenalin junkies. From the wild waves of Donegal to the perfect peel of Aileens and the beach breaks of Brandon Bay, the west coast of Ireland really is a surfer’s paradise. Lia Stokes catches up with some of the country’s best surfers to find out why the Wild Atlantic Way is so special to the surfing community.

Easkey Britton by Christian McLeod

Easkey Britton by Christian McLeod

Easkey Britton

When you’re named after a favourite wave of your surfer parents, it’s something of an inevitability that you’ll take to the water. For Easkey Britton, co-founder of the non-profit Waves of Freedom and impact travel company Sustain the Stoke, her whole life has centred on the sea and surf – she feels she was born to it.

“I was born of the sea, in it from before I can remember and the daughter of pioneering surfer parents from the North West coast in Donegal. A naming can be a powerful thing – my parents named me after their favourite wave, Easkey Right, and it comes from the Irish for ‘fish’! I’ve always felt more at home in the sea,” she says.

Despite experiencing her first wipe-out at just four or five years of age, Easkey couldn’t deny her connection to the waves, especially on the west coast of Ireland. According to Britton, it’s the combination of the atmosphere and untouched seascapes, as well as the gritty realness of the connection to the environment that draws people in.

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“I have a longing for home when I’m away and what keeps me coming back is the sense of place. I was in the water this week; there were migratory birds heading off for the summer, the sun was lighting up Benbulben on one side of the bay and Slieve League on the other side, my hands still hurting from the icy water, and a pod of dolphins came in through the line- up chasing the fish, or maybe the waves,” the Donegal woman recalls.

“It’s all the more stunning because you’ve had to weather a harsh and pretty brutal winter. It’s the beauty and the power of the elements that gives you such a magical feeling here.” For any aspiring surfers or those interested in taking the plunge for the first time, Britton’s advice would be to take your time; “Because the coast can be so unpredictable and our weather can change so quickly, if you’re new to surfing, it’s best to make a good connection with a local surf club or surf school and book yourself in for a lesson,” she suggests. “It really takes time to get to understand the sea and how it works. That kind of ocean knowledge really helps you better connect with what might seem like a strange environment to be in at first. Remember that it’s really about how you feel – even before you get on a board just jump in the sea and have a play in the waves.”

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Richie Fitzgerald by Kathrin Baumbach

Richie Fitzgerald

Born and raised in Donegal’s best surf town, Bundoran, Richie Fitzgerald’s life is immersed in the culture of the sport. As owner of a surf academy, as well as a shop – Surfworld, Fitzgerald lives and breathes surfing. The Donegal native counts himself lucky to have been surfing for over 30 years, despite some early traumas.

“My first surfing memory is with my siblings – freezing, scared, crying holding onto my older sister on the beach and in the water mid-winter with grossly inadequate equipment. With such a mad start, I’m surprised I went back for more,” Richie recalls. “I do come from a seaside family where we spent a lot of our youth, down on the beach and in summer swimming, spearfishing, building sand castles and generally being beach kids – so surfing was just a natural progression really.”

Fitzgerald has travelled widely and surfed some of the most esteemed waves in the World, but he insists the ‘Cold Water Eden’ that is the west coast of Ireland, is second to none. As an Ambassador for the Wild Atlantic Way, Richie’s passion for the west coast and its bountiful beauty is palpable and says his favourite thing about it is the ever-changing moods of the weather and ocean conditions that affect how the coastline looks. “It never looks that same two days or even two hours in a row, so it always feels new and exciting to me,” he says.

What is it though, that makes it such a special place for surfers? “We really have a unique position, sitting on the edge of the European continent. We’re open to the full force of the North Atlantic, which is one of the most swell-rich stretches of ocean on the planet,” Fitzgerald notes. “With a constant conveyer belt of wave- generating low pressures passing by and a perfectly serrated coastline bursting to the brim with world-class quality reefs, coves, points, headland, beaches and big wave surf spots, there is a surf spot for every level from complete beginners to traveling professionals.”

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Ollie O’Flaherty by James Skerritt

Ollie O’Flaherty

Hailing from Lahinch, the surf capital of Co. Clare, big wave surfer and surf coach Ollie O’Flaherty rode his first wave at the tender age of four after his uncle Alan Coyne, brought him out on his body board. Without any encouragement, Ollie took to his feet and rode the body board in to the shore. He was instantly hooked.

Ireland was just coming around to the notion of surfing at the time and his uncle was one of the early adopters of the sport here. With some of the best waves in the country on his doorstep, it was inevitable that Ollie would be bitten by the bug too.

Although weather conditions on the west coast of Ireland aren’t always conducive to spending a day on the water, O’Flaherty insists that no waves in the world compare to those dotted along the coastline. “Ireland, for me, has the best waves in the world. Our only problem is the weather can change in a moment and no forecast is definite,” he explains. “It kind of makes it all the sweeter when the epic days arrive though!”

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Ollie O’Flaherty by Ian Mitchinson

According to the Clare native, it’s not just the waves that make it a desirable location for surfers. “I have been to many places in the world to surf, but nowhere have I seen waves like in Ireland. The west coast is special because it’s so raw and the energy here is like nowhere else I know – amazing scenery with incredible waves, but also cool towns like Lahinch dotted around the west coast with great vibes and music. You just can’t beat it,” Ollie notes.

Unsurprisingly, the local surf spots are amongst his favourite. “We have a variety of waves here like nowhere in the world, big wave slabs like Aileens, to the perfect fun reef-breaks of Liscannor Bay and Spanish Point.” Since his first foray into the world of surfing, Ollie has become one of the country’s best known big wave surfers and has received international recognition with nominations for Billabong’s XXL Big Wave Awards. But what does an internationally-acclaimed surfer do in his down time? “My favourite thing to do after an epic day of surf would be hit my local pub Kennys for food, a Guinness and some great music!”

 

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