This is an article I wrote for a photojournalism class. It had to be a photo essay and an accompanying article on a certain aspect in a person’s life. I chose my boyfriend Darren and his love for Surfing.
Emerald Surfwear, Ireland’s premier Surf clothing company has a new motto.
“Cold, Wet, Windy, Perfect.” It epitomises the spirit of Irish surfers, the ever changing Irish weather, be it windy, stormy, rainy or fair delivers all sorts of different swells to our coastline. On a day where the rain is lashing the wind is howling and any normal person is cosy inside it is a common sight to see die hard Irish surfers wet suited and booted plunging into the waves.
In terms of variety Ireland has the best waves in Europe, the colder climate helps keep surfers at manageable levels. Enduring the bitter cold water helps breed a certain resilience in the hearts of Irish surfers. Who needs the crystal clear waters of Hawaii when you can look up from surfing in the Atlantic ocean and see the majestic Cliffs of Moher.
In this issue of Tonnta we profile a day in the life of a young surfer from the midlands.
Name: Darren Lynch
Surf Spots: Rossknowlagh and Lahinch
It’s 8pm and Darren is pouring over Magic Seaweed (Popular surfing website). He is checking the swell charts for Lahinch, Co.Clare for the following day. “It’s looking good for tomorrow, there’s a swell coming in and it’s going to hit Lahinch at around 11am. We’re leaving here at 7am so we’ll make it to Lahinch by 10am.”
That was his plan, however shortly after checking the reports he was handed a list of “jobs” that needed to be done the following morning.
- Make up a pen for the new calves.
- Feed cattle in the yard, Mullahorn and Kelly’s field.
- Power wash small shed.
For Darren, the surf will have to wait, such is the life of a surfer who also happens to be a farmer’s only son.
The next morning at 7am Darren rises, bleary eyed he pours himself a coffee, butters a slice of homemade brown bread, moves aside a copy of The Farmers Journal and re-checks the surf reports to see how the swell is looking. “It seems to be tapering off at after 12,” he looks apprehensive “hopefully we get down in time to catch some waves.”
He slips into his wellies and trudges up to the yard to begin his work. Between filling up buckets of meal for the hungry cattle and setting up the power washer Darren removes his new surfboard from its bag. It’s a dazzling orange Cortez board.
“I had my eye on this board for the last year, but I didn’t want to buy it until I had more experience surfing…see that fish tail fin? It’s perfect for catching waves” he looks at the board lovingly….”I can’t wait to get to the beach.”He then props the board facing the morning sunlight on top of a hay bale. “The warmth of the sun will melt the old surf wax, so it’ll be easy to remove and I can put on new wax.”
Finishing the jobs in record time, Darren then begins to prepare for the surf trip. From his storage area in the hayshed he removes his wetsuit (which has been hanging from the beams all night) He takes out the bags of meal that are in the boot of his car and replaces them with his wetsuit and towels that are in a waterproof bag. Using extra strength straps that he bought in the local co op he secures his boards to the roof of his green Volkswagen Vento. “I prefer these straps to the one’s that came with the board- there’s no way the board will loosen with these straps, they’re designed to secure cattle pens!”
One last glance at the online surf report and Darren is ready to go, it’s 10am when he sets off for Lahinch, It is clear to see his excitement as the car pulls onto the M4 motorway, it’s a straight stretch to Lahinch. Chattering excitedly he tells of his plans to meet up and surf with a friend who has just flown back from London. I ask him how he first got into surfing;
“I’ve always loved the water, I live beside a lake, and I’m a qualified Irish Water Safety Swimming Instructor, I just love being in the water. Five years ago I moved to Galway to attend NUIG. When I saw the advertisement to join NUIG Surf Club I jumped at the chance, I’ve always loved the idea of surfing, it just wasn’t feasible for me to do it while I was living in Cavan..(or so I thought). I bought my first board off a friend (A Magic Carpet-short Longboard) got myself a wetsuit and booties and went on my first surf trip to the Aran Islands- from that day, I was hooked.”
How does his move back to Cavan affect his surfing opportunities?
“Gravely..” he says with a grimace. “When I’m living at home in Cavan, there’s no spontaneous surf trip for me, there is always….and I mean always some job that needs doing. Whether it is fencing, moving cattle, power washing sheds or dosing cattle it has to be done. I have to plan for the trip in advance and let dad know that I’m heading away. I usually try to get a couple of long work days put in before I go on a surf trip. So I can enjoy the surf guilt free. If I’m lucky I can head up to Donegal for a quick surf, it’s only an hour and a half drive. But I love getting to Lahinch, there’s such a great buzz down here.”
It’s just after 1pm. Darren has just pulled into the car park at Lahinch beach. There are no waves, it’s flat. The tide is coming in, disappointment is etched on his face.
“It’s just one of those things” he shrugs. “ I didn’t drive for three hours to stand and look, I’m getting in regardless.” He changes into his surf attire at speed unhooks his board from the roof, applies a new coat of surf wax and jogs down the slope towards to the water’s edge.
He wades in, paddles out and spots a friend and they high five. The smile returns to his face as they both head towards the reef. They are waiting for the waves, but even if they don’t appear the happiness on their faces shows that this trip was not just about the waves it was about freedom and friendship and the journey for both was worthwhile.