‘Ebb and Flow’ An All-Female Irish Surf Movie

Exciting week ahead as you launch your first all-female surf movie , ‘Ebb and Flow’. Tell us how it came about?

The idea behind Ebb and Flow is to shine a spotlight on the amazing talent of women in the water
here on the west coast. I’m a surfer and a film maker and after moving to Sligo 2 years ago I was
blown away by the huge community of women who surf, windsurf and sea swim here! I felt like
what I was experiencing here as a female surfer was never really represented in the media so the
idea for the project was born. This film is all about promoting and celebrating the radiant female
community here who take on the the wild Atlantic Ocean on a daily a basis!
Art has also been a huge part of life growing up so I really wanted to create a piece that combined
both surfing and art together as one. To bring this concept to life I worked with the incredible
contemporary artist, Alice Maher who also lives on the west to create animation for the piece. We
delved into the more mystical side of the Irish coastline looking at folklore about Selkies, Grainne
Mhoal and Queen Meave. Her work always represents strong women and the female form so
beautifully and having her drawings in the film really make it a unique viewing experience!
It was also important for me to have the perfect sound to fit this piece. I worked with the talented
Jessie Solange Whitehead from Sligo who composed and recorded a stunning song for the
opening sequence. The film also features music from the Sligo based band, The Hunter. I wanted
Ebb and Flow not only to be a celebration of the female surf community here but also to showcase
the rich creative community that resides on the west too!.The whole concept for Ebb and Flow was set in motion last year when we received funding for the project from Creative Ireland. It has been truly amazing that they have supported a project of this nature and I’m looking forward to bringing it to the public this weekend!

We see lots of surf content being created along the west coast of Ireland but we rarely see
females appear in them. Tell us about the characters you chose to feature in Ebb and Flow?

I love the fact that for a lot of people on the west coast, the ocean plays a central part in their world
and they have built a life around making time for the sea and nature. So it was really important for
me to showcase not only great talent but also women who had struck the balance in their busy
lives to always make time for their love of the Atlantic Ocean. So Katie McAnena, Elizabeth Clyne
and Shauna Ward seemed like the perfect choice! They are a really diverse group of women who
not only surf but also windsurf and SUP too. Growing up in Donegal, Shauna Ward was taught by her father how to surf. They went to the Junior Surf Nationals in Rossnowlagh every summer and later Shauna went on to compete with the Irish surf team. Shauna tackles the waves with amazing power and boldness! Elizabeth Clyne grew up in Strandhill and started surfing from the age of 12. She’s travelled all
over the world surfing and now co-runs her architects firm in Sligo. Elizabeth surfs with such
fluidity and elegance that I feel like you don’t see in a lot of male surf films so it’s been amazing to
capture her style and see how it translates on the screen!. Finally, Katie McAnena, from Galway is an extremely talented all round water women! She has competed around the world windsurfing on two professional tours, is a six-time Irish national windsurfing champion, has won events on the pro-American tour and national SUP champion five times. Katie is also the first woman ever to windsurf the big wave break known as Jaws on the island of Maui in Hawaii. When not in the water she works as a GP and has two beautiful kids!. It’s been amazing watching how these three navigate the ocean not only with such style and grace but also with extreme determination and grit too. They were absolutely fabulous to work with and despite the cold we always had a good laugh whilst filming!.

Shooting a surf documentary or edit on Ireland’s harsh coastline is no easy project. We’re sure you’ve battled the elements more than once. Tell us about the process, how long it took to shoot and the conditions?

I have spent the last year filming with the girls throughout the seasons and in all weather conditions
along the coast of Sligo and Donegal!. I had to shoot in mainly wet and cold conditions especially over the winter months but really enjoyed it! I definitely got good at layering up to stay warm and dry but it was amazing to be out enjoying nature as part of my job. We filmed in many different locations along the coast of Sligo and Donegal. I had only planned on filming for a 3 or 4 months but the weather conditions were not in our favour, especially at the beginning. There were many occasions where we’d arrive at a spot and the swell just hadn’t materialised as predicted on the forecast. This was my first time using a water proof housing for my camera so it was a huge challenge trying to navigate swimming in swell and getting good shots at the same time. I definitely learned a lot throughout the process and realised pretty early on that I had to invest in a warmer wetsuit to stick out the cold. I found it difficult at the start but the more I went out the more comfortable I got with swimming in bigger waves and now I absolutely love being out in the water filming!.


Any project within the surf world in Ireland is a labour of love and involves cold days, numb fingers and goose chases as you watch the charts and hope to score the perfect conditions. How hard was it to get all the characters together, balancing work, family and other commitments from everybody?

The three girls have been absolutely amazing throughout the whole project. They were so
committed from the beginning and have given up so much time for filming which I’m so appreciate
of. Our usual schedule was either early morning or on the weekends. There were many 5 am
starts! We would arrive at our filming location at first light and the girls would surf and then all head
off to work for the day!.

Finally, tell us about the launch this Saturday, time, venue and what people can expect?

The event is on at 8pm in The Factory Performance Space in Sligo Town. There will be a short
drinks reception to begin and then we will show the film. Everyone is welcome and we cannot wait to showcase and celebrate the female surf community hereon the west coast.

Life after the big move

Life after the big move

So you’ve landed your dream job and relocated to the stunning west of Ireland. Now it’s time to start building the life you’ve dreamt of. It can be daunting finding new friends and gaining access to your new community, but don’t worry here’s a few pointers that will send you in the right direction.

 

Without a doubt we will all build relationships in our new workplace, but it’s also important to build a support network outside of the office. For people with kids, leveraging off your kids relationships is always an option and is often the case. But for those without children or those wanting to try a different route, we have gathered a few helpful ideas to help you open up your possibilities.

Be social

Be social

Social media has changed everything and the world is a far smaller place than it has ever been. You’ll obviously stay in contact with your existing friends via social media.

Most of our friend groups are created by meeting friends-of-friends. This process can feel disrupted when you move to a new place, but you’re not really that far away, and even if you were, you can always rely on your existing friends for support. One of the great ways to meet people in your new life is to source friends from people you already know. Ireland is such a small place and we love this kind of conversation. Tell friends and colleagues when you’re planning a move and then ask them if they know anyone in the area and if they can make an introduction. Getting connected with people who are already connected to your social circle is a great way to plug into the social fabric of a new place, and normally, friends of friends aren’t that far removed from your type of personality.

There are many online communities as well that are a great source for activities such as Meetup. These communities are great for meeting people with similar interests. The Galway site offers a range of activities from fitness, to cultural evenings, to day trips. Check it out for some great ideas.

Do something way out of your comfort zone

Do something way out of your comfort zone

Give yourself the gift of doing something ultra-thrilling and try something totally new to you. Try surfing; The west coast has the best surfing in Europe, or kayaking; either sea, river or lake there is a plentiful selection, or why not diving? According to world famous diver, Jacques Cousteau, “some of the best diving in the world is off Ireland’s west coast”, or if not any of these, try anything else that highlights the advantages of moving to the west coast. For the less adventurous, it doesn’t have to be all about the adrenaline rush! Why not try out the local Am Dram group or make your way to any one of the many trad festivals in the west, the choice is only limited by you.

If it is the adrenaline buzz you’re after, check out one of Ireland’s leading surf schools, Strandhill Surf School, They cater for all level of surfer, from beginner to advanced, young to old. This is a great place to advance your skills, get outdoors and make acquaintances.

Accept the invite

Accept the invite

Always try to accept and extend social invitations. This can be challenging particularly as an adult, we all expect kids to just hop in there, make friends and get on with it. But as adults we really have to push ourselves to overcome our inhibitions. Trust yourself, take the step and just do it.

Who doesn’t love food? In Mayo there are two of winners of the 2019 Irish Restaurant Awards, Cian’s on Bridge Street for Best Restaurant and House of Plates  who won Best Chef with Barry Ralph. Why not extend an invite to a couple of people to join you in checking out these great eateries? This is a great way for people to chat and get to know each other.

Exercising is social

Exercising is social

In all the hustle and bustle of your move, your new job and new social life, you may forget that exercise is often also about community and friendships. The towns and villages in the west all have whole social circles built around exercise and sport. Whether it is the liberation of open water swimming, rigorous Boxercise or stretching it out with pilates, you already have your fitness in common which can make initiating a conversation so much easier. Think about what else you could have in common. The next time you’re at a workout class, ask someone if they’re often at that class or what other classes they would recommend as you’re new in town.

If you’re in Roscommon, why not head to the stunning Lough Key Forest Part every Saturday morning at 9:30am where you can run, walk, skip, chat and laugh your way around the park with their park run. Park Runs, are of course, all over the country so just have a look at their site and you can find out where your local run is.

Get out there

Get out there

When all is said and done, getting out and actually trying new things is the key to building your new social circle. Say yes to opportunity, volunteer, explore and show up. New friendships won’t happen if you don’t go to new places and put yourself forward. So when the opportunity arises to do something new, DO IT. You’ve already taken a huge plunge; you know you’ve made the right move, now take advantage of all the west of Ireland has to offer you for your future.

Most counties in Ireland have a website that co-ordinates volunteering opportunities. These possibilities range from sports organisations, community development groups, community centre committees, youth groups, active age groups and Tidy Towns committees. Have a look a Volunteer In Leitrim to give you an idea of what’s on offer there. All you have to do is register your details and you will be matched with an organisation that needs your help.

Learn a new skill

Learn a new skill

Why not become a budding photographer? Photos are everything now, it’s so easy to do and a great way of getting out there. Maybe join a photography group, Donegal, for instance, has two great clubs, one in Buncrana, and another in Letterkenny. These are great for learning new skills and meeting people.

Get out more

Get out more

As tempting as it may be to hideout in your new home, you need to minimise the unpacking and maximise the exploration of your new surrounds. Walking is best for this, as you slowly move around, you’ll get to see all the nuances of your new world, it’s calming and it will give ample opportunity to meet people. In the west there is so much to encourage you to get out that this won’t be a problem. Notice boards in the local shops, coffee shops etc. are still a great way of finding out about local groups that may be of interest or even lead you down paths you’d never thought of. Stores like The Grainey in Scarriff, Co. Clare are a wealth of information for details on  variety of local and county wide events and classes. Where ever you are in the west there are always local stories bursting with knowledge of what’s on around the vicinity.

county clare surf scene

Insider’s Guide to the County Clare Surf Scene

shambles mcgoldrick

Seamus McGoldrick

The LookWest.ie Insider’s Guide to the West Coast Surf Scene is a series exploring the vibrant West of Ireland surf scene along the Wild Atlantic Way. Your guide to the surf is writer, pro bodyboarder and surf coach Seamus McGoldrick from Strandhill, Sligo.

Seamus began surfing at Strandhill Beach, one of Sligo’s hidden gems, and followed his passion by setting up his own thriving surf school business, Sligo Surf Experience.

So, who better to give you the inside scoop on the Irish surf scene?

Over to you Seamus:

“For our last installment of The Insider’s Guide we land in my favourite county for surfing, the Banner county of Clare. I have spent eighteen years surfing in the County Clare and have made many friends and very few enemies in this southern surfing paradise. Clare is simply a stronghold of Irish surfing heritage and talent. The waves speak for themselves and the vibe is simply magical. When do the waves appear? Nobody knows. When will the next big swell come? It’s impossible to tell. Who will suffer the next big injury? It could be anybody.

While the county’s surf is mysterious its people are straight forward and honest.

Fergal and Kevin Smith on Lahinch Prom in their childhood

Meet Two Locals

A pair of men who have made County Clare their home are brothers Fergal and Kevin Smith. Originally from Mayo, we first introduced these dedicated wave lovers in our Insider’s Guide to the County Mayo Surf Scene.

Kevin runs a successful photography business and Fergal set up one of Ireland’s only Community Support Agriculture farms. Kevin chose to relocate to Clare for a mixture of personal and professional reason. The reason in both cases was the good surf.

Kevin Smith (@kevlsmith)

“Clare has a great range of waves, from beginner waves in Fanore and Lahinch through to world-class waves like the cliffs of Moher. I think it’s one of the most constant counties for waves in Ireland.

I have always surfed from the age of ten but I moved to Clare to shoot an Analog team surf movie for my brother Fergal back in 2012. After that film, we filmed the Growing series for 18 months.

How do you balance surfing with work?

It’s fairly easy to fit in surfs. I live ten minutes from Lahinch and I can see the beach from my house, so whenever I am at home and I see there are waves, I’ll take a break from the computer and get a quick dip in.

What’s cool about the Clare surf scene is that’s its made up of Clare born surfers and surfers from all over Ireland and then international surfers who have moved over for the high-quality waves.

The big difference is in the winter, apart from the water temperature and the weather, is that it never really goes flat but in the summer you might go a few weeks without waves.

Who are the up and coming young Clare surfers?

There are so many, Ross Coyne, Joshua Karbus, Dylan Noonan, Breandan Monaghan, I could keep going!

Clare is famous for its festivals. You were at the 2019 Doolin Surf Festival. How was it?

It was great. It was class to see Irish surfing on the big screen.

Fergal Smith on camera

Fergal Smith (@moyhillfarm)

Kevin’s brother Fergal is busy running one of Ireland’s few Community Support Agriculture projects in Moy Hill, County Clare

“Clare is a great county for surfing as the coastline is small so you can get along it in a short amount of time with a lot of different waves.

I first came to Clare for surf contests but when I was seventeen or so I started coming down to surf the better waves and then I ended up just staying. Its a long enough drive home to Mayo so I just started living here as I liked it so much and it was too far to drive home.

county clare surf

Fergal and Kevin Smith learning to surf back in the day

I run a community farm and the good thing is in the summer the waves are not as good and the farm is at its busiest then, then in the winter the farm is quieter so gives time for surfing.

The special thing about Clare is the closeness to all the good waves and there is also a great variety for everyone. Clare gets more waves than other parts of the Irish coast during the summertime but it can be very wild here in the winter.

One of the craziest things about Clare is its number one tourist attraction: the “Cliffs of Moher”. Underneath the cliffs is also where some of the best waves in the world are!

The Burren Limestone landscape is also a very beautiful place to go and explore.

A new event this year was the Doolin surf festival which went down really well and everyone seemed to really enjoy it so hopefully, that will take place every year from now on.

Peter conroy

Peter Conroy charging in Clare

Peter Conroy (@pedro2468)

One of the first and most straightforward men I met in Clare was Peter Conroy from Miltown Malbay.

“Clare is known as one of the best surfing counties in Ireland. Why? Clare has so many different types of waves, from beginner waves to the most advanced waves in the world. So you can choose what you want to do or work your way up as you go along. We have quite an accessible coastline which makes it easy to get from one wave to another. Clare differs from other countries because of its bays and vast openness to the Atlantic and can handle all the ocean can throw at it.

How did you get into surfing in Clare?

I started working as a lifeguard on Spanish Point beach and on my time off I picked up a board and caught a few waves. I was hooked straight away.

As a professional Fireman, how do you balance surfing with work?

The older I get the more I realise that there will always be another swell. There will always be another best day ever. So I just get what I can and when I can. If it looks like it’s my kinda swell I might try to get off work. But nowadays I just wait until I’m free for the swell.

The people in my home county make the surf scene special. That and the vast amount of waves and the scenery. The waves we get in the winter are heavy and solid. The summer swells lame and inconsistent.

Peter Conroy

Any up and coming young Clare surfers?

Loads. Too many to name.

Best surfing beach in Clare?

Lahinch.

If you want to get into surfing in Clare just get a board and get a few lessons off one of the many surf schools in Lahinch or Spanish Point. Once you have the basics, practice makes perfect.

Clem Mc Inerney (@clemmcinerney)

Another professional cameraman who makes Clare his home is Clem Mc Inerney. In the last several years Clem has dedicated himself to capturing Irish and foreign surfers in the best waves the wild west of Ireland has to offer.

“The Lahinch area as a whole has a really great variety of waves. It’s an amazing place to learn how to surf on the beach and then if you stick with it you almost have this natural progression to move further to the cliffs near the beach where you have reef breaks. When you park in the top car park you have such a good overview of the bay and where you want to surf, you don’t have to do too much trekking around!

Clem McInerney in his happy place. Image Credit: WestSouthWest

I was always encouraged to be around the sea as a young fella by my parents. I swam competitively, sailed and fished. I’m from Limerick so I spent all my summer holidays in Kilkee jumping off rocks terrifying onlookers and swimming all day every day.

It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I really fell in love with surfing and spent more time in Lahinch. My poor parents would be left sitting in the car waiting for hours while I attempted to surf! Then when I was a little older there were a few of my buddies from home who were into it and then I never really looked back. After a couple of years of silly missions and doing laps of the coast with good friends and I settled in Lahinch.

I am in a very privileged position where I work in the surf industry. It’s the only industry where ‘Sorry. I am only coming back to you now. There were pumping waves’ is a reasonable excuse for not coming back to someone!

My background of study and work is in law but I eventually followed my passion and began working with some incredible people in the most amazing locations close to home. Now, in saying that I don’t get to surf as much as I would like because if the waves are very good I am filming but when I do surf it makes it even more satisfying and I appreciate those moments more! That is why I try filming mostly from the water because I still get to be in the sea and get closer to the action.”

What makes the surf scene in Clare so special?

I think in Clare we have a very close surf community because we all work, surf and hang out together. That’s a great thing about Lahinch. It is hard to go for a quick walk down the prom because you just bump into someone every few feet!

We also have amazing board shapers here, for a small area. We have three active board shapers each doing there own techniques and designs: Tom DH, Luke Underwood and Shaun at Coded Surfboards are all pushing themselves for the surfers and waves here.

As a surf fan that’s really cool to see in a small area. We have a massive range of surfers as well from all different backgrounds, we have all found a way to be able to find a great work/surf balance.

I think my favourite beach is Doughmore in Doonbeg. That beach is very special to anyone who surfs in County Clare. It is really stunning and has produced some really special moments over the years.

What is the difference in summer and winter surfing in Clare?

Winter is the reason I live here, we are right on the front line of the storms from the Atlantic and to feel the power of the sea is something special. There is nothing better than being in the sea during one of these storms or standing on one of the cliffs being hammered by gale-force winds and rain coming from every direction. Then summer is just cruising, hoping for a wave really. We tend to surf longboards to keep ourselves sane while we wait for the good waves to return.

We have really epic Pitch and Putt courses here in Clare, a really nice way to spend a few hours when the waves arent great!

Clem McInerney behind the lense. Image Credit: WestSouthWest

Any up and coming young Clare surfers?

We have such a great crew of groms coming up. It’s really exciting to see the local groms in the line up now hassling us for waves! I think the future of the sport is in really good hands, the boys and girls coming through really just love the sport for what it is and want to spend as much time in the water as they can. There are too many to even mention which is a very positive sign for the talent coming out of Clare!

We have some really excellent surf schools in Clare. If you are looking to start surfing contact Mono in Lahinch Surf Experience, his standard of lessons are excellent and its very personal which is key to learning to surf the right way. Then if you are looking to progress to an advanced level I would contact Ollie’s Surf Academy. Ollie has years of competition knowledge and works closely with the ISA. You’ll need to stop into Lahinch surf shop to get your gear as well, that shop is one of the originals in surfing in Ireland!

County Clare has amazing festivals. If you are looking for something non-surf related there is the ‘Match Making Festival’ in Lisdoonvarna and I would highly recommend checking out the Agricultural show in Ennistymon.

We have some surf competitions coming in Lahinch as well. Check out the West Coast Surf Club website for details on those, it’s a great club that pushes the sport forward in the area.

Hotel Doolin has some epic festivals as well, the folk fest is world-renowned and they had the first Surfest last year which was a massive hit. It will be on again next March and even if you are not a surfer I would go check it out- its a weekend of great music, movies, talks, and food. Hotel Doolin not only hosted the event but contributed donations to the West Coast Surf Club and the Irish Tow Surf rescue club which is very positive for surfing in County Clare.

Are there any up and coming young surfers in Clare we should be looking out for?

Yes loads, it is not easy to mention one without the other fifty! So what I would recommend is grabbing a coffee from Joes, go sit on the prom and look out at the groms who are ripping!

Who to know
  • Dusty the Dolphin: Respect the locals and you’ll be fine.
  • Hugh Galloway if you are looking for a good sandwich. And I mean really good.

Hugo’s Deli

  • Peter Conroy. Pro surfer, safety guru, fireman and secret superhero.
  • Ollie O Flaherty

Female Surfers in Clare

Who are the females in the Co Clare surf scene?

Check out this beautiful video by Kev L Smith showing the female chargers of the banner; counselor/therapist Lisa O’Reilly, occupational therapist Alison Derham, Surf school manager Liz Quinn, and doctor/GP Marese Mannion, all of whom have chosen to live and work in one of the furthermost reaches of Europe, on the edge of Ireland so as to pursue their love of surfing. It is entitled ‘This Wild and Precious Life’ and it is dedicated to all such souls.

Where to hang out

Kevin Smith: “Visit the Cliff of Moher, take a ferry to the Arran Islands, check out the Doolin music scene. Go rock climbing and don’t forget a plain old stroll along the prom in Lahinch. Go visit the Burren. It is magical. Take one of the loop-walks near Fanore beach. Good festivals I recommend are the Doolin Folk festival and the Willie Clancy week in Milltown.”

Fergal Smith: “Lahinch Beach has something for everyone and is very easy to get to but quieter beaches like Fanore or Doughmore would be more my kind of places to hang out on. I guess if you want to get to know the Clare surfers Lahinch is the centre of all things surfing in Clare. if you hang out around the beach in Lahinch you will get to meet all the surfers of the area.

Peter Conroy: “A good cafe in Ennistymon or restaurant in Liscannor. Lahinch promenade. Spanish Point. The bottom of the Cliff of Moher. Quilty. The Aran Islands.  Doolin Cave. The Burren.”

Clem Mc Inerney: “County Clare has so many amazing places to hang out. For coffee, Joes Cafe. For pints its Kenny’s Bar in Lahinch. Both are great places to warm up after a surf or sit and talk with friends when the waves don’t produce! Try to get a sunset walk in at Hags head as well, it’s a great angle of the Cliffs of Moher. Obviously, the Cliffs of Moher are a must but it is a little too touristy. I would highly recommend a stroll around the Burren or else check out Doolin Cave. Ennistymon is a little hotbed of restaurants, Oh LaLa is really tasty and have a walk down to the falls after. I think people miss the falls when they just drive over the bridge to get to Lahinch, its definitely worth a stroll.

Don’t miss

Peter Conroy: “The Cliffs of Moher. Doolin Cave. The 99 icecreams in O Dwyers shop in Quilty. The Willy Clancy week. The West Coast surf club longboard competition and 50 year anniversary. 2020 Doolin Surf Festival.”

Kevin Smith: “Summer surfing in Doonbeg.”

Clem Mc Inerney: “Go explore south of Lahinch, head down to Loop head and stop in Kilkee on the way! Areas south of Lahinch are a little off the beaten track. There is tons of history, traditional music, amazing food and the scenery around Kilkee are stunning. I’d highly recommend getting a Nolans breakfast roll and eating it up on the cliffs looking out over the bay!”

Fergal Smith: “There are surfing events through the year in Clare and check out the West coast surf club to see what is happening with surf contest or beach clean-ups. We also have our Moyhill farm event from September 20th to 22nd. It is called a Farm Gathering and it where people get to come and camp on the farm for the weekend of the equinox and share in the great food with music, workshops, and lots of tours and farm demos. I hope to see you at that one Shambles.”

Related Content

LookWest.ie Insider’s Guide to Living in County Clare

LookWest.ie Insider’s Guide to County Donegal Surf Scene

LookWest.ie Insider’s Guide to County Sligo Surf Scene

LookWest.ie Insider’s Guide to County Mayo Surf Scene

Useful Links:

Sligo Surf Experience (Seamus McGoldrick’s surf school in Sligo)

West Coast Surf Club

Irish Tow Surf Rescue Club

Cliffs of Moher

Hotel Doolin

 

sligo stories

Sligo Stories Set To Power New Tourism Campaign for County Sligo

Sligo Tourism, the agency tasked with promoting County Sligo to national and international markets, is embarking on an ambitious year-long digital marketing campaign, with social media and creativity powering the entire initiative.

Using the hashtag #SligoStories, locals and visitors to County Sligo are encouraged to share their favourite story from the county over the next twelve months. From sunrise to sunset, whether it is hiking up Knocknarea, biking around Sligo town, SUPping on Lough Gill, surf lessons in Strandhill, picnics on the beach in Enniscrone, dinner with friends in Sligo’s award-winning restaurants, guided walks and trails, horse riding across beaches; Sligo’s stunning landscape and people is surely set to inspire each and every story.

The key objectives of the 2019-2020 marketing campaign will focus on growing the number and spend of overseas visitors to the region, especially those visiting from Europe. Another objective is to extend the length of stays by visitors to the region and encouraging families to stay for week-long periods.

sligo stories
Key elements of the campaign include the development of saleable visitor experiences and packages which tourists can pre-book and buy online through the recently relaunched website SligoTourism.ie. These packages will focus on off-season and shoulder months of the tourism calendar i.e. October to March. The campaign will also include the development of a photography and video content pool.

The marketing campaign will also collaborate with local tourism networks including Adventure Sligo, Sligo Food Trail, Sligo Walks and South and West Sligo Tourism.

According to Sligo Tourism Manager Neil Faulkner, the campaign will drive significant interest during some of the tougher months for tourism operators in the Northwest: “We are really excited to announce this new Sligo Stories Tourism campaign supported by Sligo Tourist Development Association, Sligo LEADER Partnership and our local hotels. We have just kicked off our social media campaign this month, and will follow with a brand new suite of new photography and two new promotional videos all set to be released over the coming months.”

Three major themes of the campaign will focus on County’s Sligo’s main assets; outdoor adventures, archeology and culture and creativity, as well as supporting the county’s vibrant events calendar.

For further information on the campaign, visit www.sligotourism.ie and follow @SligoTourism or use the hashtag #SligoStories

Photo Credits: Joshua McMichael

le cheile

Le Chéile – New short film on living in Lahinch to feature at Barcelona Surf Film Festival

Le Chéile is a new short film by West of Ireland videographer Kevin Smith about how individuals living in a town, help shape that area, people & society around them.

The film features Lahinch Local surfer Ollie O Flaherty & a host of his friends that live in Lahinch. Filmed on location in Lahinch, County Clare Ireland.

Liscannor Bay the song in the film was written by Mick Flynn and is about the bay that Lahinch is located in & contains some of the counties best reef breaks.

The music for this film was recorded live in the local Kenny’s pub and performed by The O’Connell brothers who are good friends of Ollie.

Le Chéile is being shown at the Barcelona Surf Festival on the 23rd of May & is a special short screening at the Great Lakes Surf Film Festival in June.

More at kevlsmith.com

mayo surf scene

The Insider’s Guide to the County Mayo Surf Scene

The LookWest.ie Insider’s Guide to the West Coast Surf Scene is a series exploring the vibrant West of Ireland surf scene along the Wild Atlantic Way. Your guide to the surf is writer, pro bodyboarder and surf coach Seamus McGoldrick from Strandhill, Sligo.

Seamus began surfing at Strandhill Beach, one of Sligo’s hidden gems, and followed his passion by setting up his own thriving surf school business, Sligo Surf Experience.

So, who better to give you the inside scoop on the Irish surf scene?

shambles mcgoldrick

Our series kicked off in Donegal where Seamus met some lucky surfers who manage to chase the dream of surfing all year round on the west coast. We then turned to Seamus’ home county of Sligo, where we met surfers of all hues – surfboard shapers, musicians, architects, and entrepreneurs – who have made Yeats County their home because of its world class waves.

Having followed the surf coast of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way from south Donegal through Sligo we now land in the mystical county of Mayo; a wild, rugged county that can boast 1150 kilometres (722 miles) of coastline. With the longest coastline in Ireland, it is no wonder you can find plenty of waves out among the beaches and bogs of Mayo.

Mayo Surf Scene Overview

The limestone landscape of east Mayo gives way to blanket bog near its western Atlantic coast. Much of Mayo’s spectacular natural scenery lies near this coastal drive along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The cliffs, stacks, and islands at Benwee Head offer some of the most dramatic scenery on the Irish coast. Under Mayo’s blanket bog lay spectacular secrets. The field systems used by the ancient Irish are preserved under the peat. The most famous site is the one at the Céide Fields which is believed to have been built five and a half thousand years ago and is the world’s oldest known field system.

In addition to the longest coastline, Mayo also contains Ireland’s largest offshore island, Achill Island, whose western edge houses Croughan mountain. Croughan’s northern slope has been eaten away by the ferocious Atlantic waves to produce the highest sea cliffs in Ireland (and the third highest in Europe at 688 meters).

Mayo is a laid back surf haven but people also visit the county’s dazzling beaches to kayak, kiteboard, paraglide, swim and dive. Outdoor enthusiast can explore Mayo’s Blueway trails or cycle the Great Western Greenway – one of the world’s most scenic cycleways.

The WAW Surf Coast ends at Erris, at the western tip of Mayo, and the majestic Bay Coast, a salty fresh-air playground, takes over from Erris into Connemara in western Galway. If you are looking for savage Irish beauty along with plenty of history and culture, Mayo is the place to be.

keel beach

Mayo Surf Scene Facts:

When the early Irish surfing pioneers ventured south from the spiritual home of Irish surfing in Rossnowlagh, County Donegal, they soon discovered Sligo. Naturally, Mayo became the next surfing frontier. Once you pass Easkey’s limestone reef breaks you soon reach the wilds of Mayo. You might not see any surfers, but they are there.

Ballina is the capital town but the largest town in Mayo is Castlebar (population 34,000) followed by Claremorris. Mayo is well serviced by rail and a number of national primary roads and easily accessible by Ireland West Airport Knock near the famous religious shrine at nearby Knock Village.

Mayo has always felt the effect of high emigration but the county can now boast that its great surfing is making young people stay put and attracting in foreigners. And when you land in Mayo make sure you learn the local lingo as nine percent of Mayo’s population live in the Irish speaking Gaeltacht.

Hikers might like to hike to the top of Croagh Patrick, the sacred mountain that overlooks Clew Bay that houses 365 islands, one for every day of the year and one owned by John Lennon. Clew Bay is home to the picturesque villages of Louisburgh, Murrisk and Mulranny – the gateway to Achill Island.

Local Surfer: Charles O Malley

Local Mayo surfer Charles O Malley felt lucky to grow up in Murrisk village at the foot of Croagh Patrick halfway between Westport and Louisburgh. His mother would drop him to the beach where he would hang out with one of his older brothers who worked for Surf Mayo one of the first Irish surf schools run by Elvis Beetham.

charles o malley

Charles catching a few summer fun ones

“My older brothers started surfing in the mid-Nineties and I copied everything they did. When I was a student I would teach kids in surf camp in the mornings for SURFMAYO and Lifeguard on Carrownisky Strand in the afternoons seven days a week. Summers were always hectic working on the beach every day but good fun also and helped fund my studies in IT Sligo.”

surfing carrowniskey

Carrowniskey Waves via SurfMayo on Twitter

According to Charles, surfing in Mayo is quite special because the county has such a vast amount of coastline. The beaches on the north and west coasts are exposed to all the swell that meets the Wild Atlantic Way. After a stint in Dublin and Galway working as an engineer, Charles returned to his home roots in Mayo in 2018 and started working with Elvis from SURFMAYO.

Elvis SurfMayo

Elvis Beetham of SurfMayo

“I’m lucky now that I’m living beside the coast again that I can fit in surfing in the mornings and evenings with running the surf school.”

Charles says ‘the big difference between summer and winter surfing is definitely the water temperature as it’s much cooler in the winter and the waves can be a bit bigger also. However, once you have a good winter wetsuit it makes it much easier to enjoy winter surfing around Mayo.”

Outside of surfing, Charles recommends other activities like cycling the Greenway, stand up paddle-boarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing, fishing, camping, swimming, playing GAA, rugby, football.

carrowniskey

Sunset surfers at Carrowniskey

After all this action you will be pleased to know that between Westport and Louisburgh there are many great cafés, restaurants, and bars where locals and tourists enjoy hanging out. Charles reckons his local beach, Carrownisky Strand, is a great surfing beach: “however there many great surfing beaches in Achill and Belmullet also.”

“If you want to get into surfing in Mayo, my colleague Elvis is the man with the most knowledge to introduce you to surfing. He moved from Cornwall to Mayo twelve years ago and has taught hundreds of people to catch their first wave.”

SURFMAYO was Mayo’s first surf school, established in 1998, and one of the first surf schools and surf hire companies established in Ireland. SURFMAYO School of Surfing caters for all ages and abilities in surfing and offer professional surf coaching and equipment with coaches who are highly experienced, passionate surfers. SURFMAYO offers a taste of the ultimate surfing experience on the Wild Atlantic Way.

I learn from Charles that Danny Hedley from Louisburgh is the local up and coming teenage surfer. He began learning to surf with SURFMAYO eight years ago and you’ll often see him in the water preparing for events like the National Irish Surfing Association competitions.

Danny is also training to become a beach lifeguard and hopes to become a Surf Instructor. Charles tells me he ‘will be sure to spread his knowledge onto the next generation’.

More at surfmayo.com

Brothers Fergal and Kevin Smith:

Surfer and photographer Kevin Smith

Fergal and Kevin Smith grew up four miles outside of Westport on an organic vegetable farm. Their family used to go to Achill Island on the weekends in the summer. Fergal’s dad tried surfing and he and his brother soon followed when Fergal was about seven years of age.

Being from Westport, Fergal was closer to Louisberg which is where he decided to go to school, to be closer to the waves. Now he could surf after school. Fergal surfed Keel Beach in Achill Island until he reached his teens when he started exploring other surf spots.

“I have amazing memories of Achill Island and I still love going there,” says Fergal. Finally, Fergal’s older brother Kevin, also an avid surfer, got a car and the true adventure began. Every day they would venture all over Mayo and out to Belmullet to go surfing. Fergal began to excel the better the waves became.

Kevin Smith is a standout Mayo surfer in his own right who is now a professional photographer. But it was Fergal who decided to focus on becoming a professional surfer. Kevin went off surfing to Australia and became an engineer. When he came back to Ireland, Fergal’s surfing career was taking off and his brother decided to turn professional. Fergal needed someone to film him surfing and Kevin was always interested in photography.

The two brothers began one of the most remarkable collaborations in Irish surfing history culminating in the fantastic Growing Series.

“Surfing, as a teenager, was my dream in life to pursue.” explains Fergal, “And I really wanted to see how good I could get, to push myself but also to surf these amazing waves in Ireland.”

Before Fergal, the days when the surf was huge were spent watching the massive waves break from the safety of the shore. Fergal grew up seeing these waves breaking but he hadn’t seen people riding them. He knew it was possible. In fact, with partners in crime Mickey Smith and Tom Lowe from Cornwall, he went ahead and made it possible, busting down the door for others to follow. With minimal equipment and money, this power trio broke down the perception of what was possible in Irish waters.

The Mayo coastline borders on Enniscrone, home of local surfing legend Cain Kilcullen, the manager of the family-run seaweed baths.

fergal smith

“I grew up with Cain Kilcullen who is still in my opinion and in most people’s opinion one of or the best talented Irish surfers that there ever has been. I had the privilege of growing up with him.” says Fergal.

Inevitably Fergal began to venture farther afield in search of more waves. Fergal learned a lot from the varied coastline of Mayo and the precocious talent of Cain Kilcullen and began to attract the attention of surfing magazines and photographers. Soon, he was the most photographed surfer in the world.

Fergal enjoyed his work as a professional surfer, surfing all over Ireland and also doing overseas trips to Australia and Tahiti. But growing up on an organic farm he knew in his heart that he would sooner or later go back to this occupation. Fergal now is part of the Moy Hill community Community assisted agriculture project based in County Clare but says he still misses the winter swells in Mayo.

Fergal says “One thing I miss living in Clare is all the mountains. In Mayo, there are beautiful mountains everywhere.”

Filming professional surfing led Kevin to wildlife photography a job Fergal thinks he ‘definitely enjoys more than civil engineering’. “What is great about Kev is he has all the degrees and could work in any city but he really wants to live in the west of Ireland”

According to Kevin, surfing in Mayo is still fairly new and there were little to no surfers in the water in the early 1990s. “I feel Mayo was a lot slower than other counties to get large numbers regularly surfing. Mayo has a lot of great surfable beaches to explore out past Louisburgh to Achill or Belmullet. Now we have a lot of great surf schools, for example, SURFMAYO in Carrowniskey and a lot more people are enjoying the waves around Mayo.”

clew bay

Clew Bay view from Croagh Patrick

Kevin says the unique thing about surfing in Mayo is “seeing the mountains in the background as you surf with no one around; it is quite special.”

“There is not a huge surf scene but it is cool hanging out at Carrownisky, experimenting with Elvis’s self-shaped surfboards and there is a great welcoming surf scene around Belmullet too and always good vibes in the water.”

“There have been some great surfers to come out of Mayo; Rory Tuey and Fergal Smith spring to mind. Now there is a great local lad called Danny Hedley from Louisburgh.”

In summary, you don’t need to be a professional to surf in Mayo. In fact, Mayo really suits beginner and intermediate surfers. Plus, it is a nice, quiet part of rural Ireland. It houses a low key surf scene packed with mellow surfers just going surfing. There might be some campfires and BBQs but there are certainly no fans or photographer thronging the sand dunes.

Fergal Smith explained to me about how hard granite makes for a rough coastline. Softer rocks make smoother coastlines where there is more chance of waves being found. Sligo and Clare have flat soft Limestone rocks and you’ll find a lot of waves there but Galway has a different type of rock which forms islands and pinnacles but doesn’t yield much surf.

“Regardless of the waves, going to Achill Island is a beautiful experience you will definitely enjoy.” says Fergal Smith, “For adventure, take a trip to Belmullet and Louisburg has a small surf scene and there are some really nice people out there.”

Achill Island can boast some of the finest beaches in Ireland including five blue flag beaches.

We will visit Fergal and his brother again in our next installment of the Insiders Guide when we arrive in County Clare skipping Galway as it doesn’t have the same level of surfing as Mayo simply because of geology.

surfing at keel co mayo

Pure Magic on Achill Island:

Over ten years ago, a dedicated, world traveled watersports team, including Frenchman Francois Colussi, found a kitesurfing paradise on Achill Island. All year, Achill is swept by wind which is perfect for kitesurfing. The island has plenty of spots to practice kitesurfing including lakes and beaches. Achill is the first land mass in Europe to receive the wind from the Atlantic and it blows!

The Pure Magic centre, situated at the foot of Slievemore Mountain and overlooking Keel Lake, takes full advantage of this fact. Achill is such a world-class venue for the sport that the 2012 World Kitesurfing Championships were held there.

The Pure Magic team created the Battle of the Lake to celebrate the finale of the Irish Kitesurfing Tour. Every year, at the same windy time, kitesurfers from home and abroad head to Achill Island, along with water fanatics, beach lovers, music lovers and all sort of other lovers. The competition is intense but good natured and the legendary afterparty has grown into a festival in its own right.

Other activities like stand up paddle boarding, surfing, sea kayaking, angling, horse riding, land yachting, walking, cycling, climbing, snorkeling are all within easy reach of the Pure Magic centre which also boasts a lodge and restaurant.

All this and more make Achill Island the perfect place to relax and unplug from the mainland.

Find out more at PureMagic

Useful Links:

Insider’s Guide to the Donegal Surf Scene

Insider’s Guide to the Sligo Surf Scene

Sligo Surf Experience

 

strandhill moments

Wild Atlantic Surf Village Open for Business this Winter

Strandhill, known to many as a home to Wild Atlantic surfing, continues to thrive throughout the winter season. With great midweek and weekend deals available on accommodation, and a busy calendar of winter events and creative happenings; the Northwestern surf village is firmly declaring it is open for business for Winter 2018.

As part of the on-going #StrandhillMoments tourism campaign to promote the usually quieter shoulder months of the year, a new video has been released this week. Commissioned by the Strandhill Tourist Development Association, the video highlights a weekend getaway to Strandhill featuring all there is to experience and enjoy in the village.

Though Winter may not always be considered a time to visit the Northwest of Ireland, there are still plenty of seasonal activities and adventures for all to enjoy; from walking trails over Knocknarea mountain or around the coast of the Strandhill/Coolera Peninsula, toasty VOYA seaweed baths, live music gigs throughout the week in local pubs and bars, and bustling local cafes and restaurants to enjoy. For the more experienced surfer, some of the best waves hit the Northwest during winter months.

Accommodation Offers: Four-star Strandhill Lodge & Suites have two-nights with a VOYA Seaweed Bath for €199pp sharing, or two nights with an evening dinner at the Venue Bar & Restaurant for €199pp sharing.

Shells Cafe: the ever-popular beachfront cafe, which opens throughout the year, runs winter supper clubs led by chef Myles Lamberth with dates set for December 6th, 7th and 14th, tickets are €45pp.

Christmas Markets: this year’s Christmas Market dates have been announced by Strandhill People’s Market running December 2nd, 9th, 14th, 16th, 21st and 23rd with Sundays open from 11-4pm and Fridays from 5 – 9pm. Expect to find great Christmas gifts and the best in street food vendors.

Live Music: The Strand Bar, The Venue and The Dunes host weekly music nights featuring local musicians, trad sessions and visiting guests.

Sligo Surf Experience Surf School: Operated by surfing champion Seamus McGoldrick, the surf school is one of few operating throughout winter for the first time with weekend classes available, and mid-week sessions by appointment. Lessons start at €35pp for group bookings.

Salt & Soul Yoga Studio: The purpose-built yoga studio run weekly classes, workshops and retreats throughout the winter months. Upcoming events include workshops on Yoga for Stress & Anxiety on November 9th and December 14th and Sunday evening Soundbath Meditations on November 18th and December 9th.

Weekend Brunch: The Draft House Gastro Pub and newly opened Stoked Restaurant have announced new winter weekend brunch menus for the winter months.

For more information and to plan your stay in Strandhill this Winter, visit  www.gostrandhill.com  or follow @GoStrandhill on Twitter/Instagram.

easkey britton

Big wave surfer launches new film shot in Donegal

 

Fusing cold water surfing, dance & poetry, Rossnowlagh native Easkey Britton explores a synodic month from a female perspective in a new award-winning film, shot in Donegal, that she has just launched online.

‘A Lunar Cycle’ takes us on an emotive journey through the places in-between, where instability reigns supreme. Embracing the imperfections as we connect with ourselves and the environment around us. Our connection to the sea and natural cycles is at the heart of this stunning visual journey through water and landscape.

A short film, directed by Andrew Kaineder, that explores themes not yet visited in surf films – fusing coldwater surfing, dance, poetry, prose and natural cycles of the body and nature, capturing my sea connection in winter in Donegal on the North West coast of Ireland.

On the film, Britton commented ‘In a society that rewards ‘busyness’ I think understanding the influence of cycles becomes even more important. We all have them, men and women. We’re living beings influenced by our environment and are affected by the cycles of night and day, the moon, the seasons, the tides… As women, we are gifted with an internal cycle, our menstrual cycle – if we’d only been taught how to better listen to our bodies. Our body tells us when it’s time to act and when it’s time to rest.’

‘I’m beginning to develop a greater awareness of my cycle, and this is what I explore & creatively give expression in A Lunar Cycle. This awareness helps me reconnect with my body in nature, understand my own inner ebb and flow, the high cost of being always ‘on’ in a society that fosters a toxic relationship with time, and the equally important need for stillness and reflection.’

Behind the scenes

‘As part of the film-making process, charting my menstrual cycle alongside my experience of surfing this last winter was profoundly powerful. I began to notice when and how the outer seascape might mirror my inner cycle. In making the film, I discovered how to give this creative expression combining surfing, body movement and poetry. A Lunar Cycle allowed me to explore what it would be like to let the energy of the different phases of my cycle express itself through how I surf.’, Easkey Britton

Quotes from Reviewers

Lunar Cycle is STUNNING! Really powerful, creative, compelling. Beautiful.

– Ruairi McKiernan, Founder SpunOut youth org, Host Love and Courage podcast, Presidential appointee to Ireland’s Council of State

This piece of work speaks to my soul. It’s utterly delicious, real, visceral, raw, strong, wild, equal in its masculine and feminine energies and captures the waves of the lunar cycle with great power. Stunning work.

Susie Q – Irish indie musician, co-founder A Lust for Life

I had shivers down my spine watching it. It’s stunning and I took so much from it. We are all on a journey and I personally am trying to tap into my own natural rhythms and the rhythms of nature around me after ignoring them both for many years.

I love what you say about letting go. The ebb and flow of life are necessary and it’s important to acknowledge both.

– Kathy Donaghy, journalist

This film is amazing! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

– Margaret Seelie, editor/ publisher Other Side of Surfing Press

Winner Best Short Film – Shoreshots Surf Film Festival 2018

Film Credits:

Directed by Andrew Kaineder
Starring Easkey Britton
Produced by Matt Smith
Written and voiced by Easkey Britton
Music and Sound by Joseph Franklin / Onic Studio
Additional footage by Chris McClean and Clem Mcinerny

Special thanks to Tom and all the crew at Finisterre & Iain Miller from Unique Ascent.

More about Easkey at easkeybritton.com

Photo Credit: ANDREW KAINEDER / @Kaineder

Top 10 Things to Do in County Mayo

County Mayo has mountains and sea; pristine beaches, stunning landscapes and some of the proudest people you will ever meet.

When we asked for your favourite things to do in Mayo; the response was overwhelming.

With ancient sites, picture-perfect beaches, plunging mountainsides, and unspoiled wilderness, it’s the perfect place to visit or live in.

1. Climb a Mountain:

Not just any mountain of course. One of Ireland and Mayo’s most famous landmarks, Croagh Patrick is located just outside of the beautiful and vibrant town of Westport and is known as the place where St. Patrick spent 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting during his years in Ireland.

County Mayo’s third Highest mountain, Croagh Patrick is known by some as Irelands Holy and Sacred mountain and is perhaps the most famous and certainly one of the most climbed of Ireland’s mountains with up to 1 million people climbing the majestic peak of Croagh Patrick each year.

Generally, it is best to climb in Spring, Summer, and Autumn (March-October). Occasional showers blow in over the bay so raingear is advisable. Croagh Patrick rises to a height of 2510 feet/765m above sea level.

Normally, it takes about two hours for the average person to reach the summit, and one and a half hours to descend. croagh-patrick.comcroagh patrick

2. Visit ‘The Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland’.

The mountain-rippled barony of Erris is undoubtedly off the beaten track.

Stretching from Ballycroy National Park to the Mullet Peninsula, it is covered with blanket bog for its two thirds and has white sandy beaches, wind-swept coasts, and stunning cliffs.

Erris is a real heaven for surfers, walkers and all enthusiasts for sea-sports. On the other hand families will find ideal beaches where children can play safely and have a swim in the clear and crystal water or have fantastic boat trips and maritime adventures. visiterris.ieballycroynationalpark.ie

Mayo Top 10

Doonamo Point, Erris. Photo: Christian McLeod via Ireland’s Content Pool

3. Get an Adrenalin Fix

County Mayo is bursting with adrenalin-filled activity options. With its rugged coastline, mountains and seas, it has long attracted fresh-air heads seeking to push the boundaries of adventure activities.

Our pick includes:

  • Coasteering in Erris with Wavesweeper Sea Adventures; a family-run soft adventure company based on the Erris Peninsula in North West Mayo. wavesweeperseaadventures.com
  • Ask anybody about adventure activities in Mayo and they will know Francois at Pure Magic in Achill. So if you want to try kitesurfing, SUPing, or a whole host of other adrenalin filled options, check out Pure Magic on stunning Achill Island. puremagic.ie/achillsurfing mayo

4. Get Stuffed

Mayo is a foodie lover’s dream. With a burgeoning food-produce industry (check out Achill Sea Salt for starters) and a wealth of formal and informal food establishments, there is something for every palate.

Our readers have highly recommended checking out Jack Fenn’s Courtyard Café in the courtyard of the stunning Belleek Castle in Ballina. belleekcastle.com

Also always worth a detour to Castlebar; Café Rua’s cafe and separate deli are family-run, award-winning foodie destination that entirely lives up to the hype! caferua.com

5. Visit Ireland’s Largest Island

Achill Island: Ireland’s largest island is arguably our most beautiful. You could spend weeks exploring the pristine beaches of Keem Bay, surfing at Keel beach or snorkeling at Keem (via @kevlsmith on Instagram)achill island

6. Spend a week in Westport; ‘Ireland’s Best Place to Live’

Westport town has long been synonymous with being one of Ireland’s best holiday destinations. In 2012 The Irish Times awarded it the prestigious accolade of also being the ‘Best Place to Live’

From the culture of Westport House & Clew Bay Heritage Centre to cliff jumping into the wild Atlantic and all things in between, such as, soaking in the atmosphere of the bars & restaurants, cycling the Great Western Greenway or tracing the footsteps of our Patron Saint to the top of the Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick. destinationwestport.com

7. Visit a Field System older than the Pyramids:

There are few places in Ireland where the feeling of being surrounded by the truly ancient is more profound than at the Céide Fields in Belderrig, Co. Mayo, home of the oldest known field system in the world.

Located along dramatic 360-foot high cliffs and looking straight out onto the Atlantic Ocean, the Céide Fields (or Achaidh Chéide meaning “flat-topped hill fields”) is a remarkable neolithic site first discovered in the 1930s. museumsofmayo.com/ceide.htm 

8. Explore Mayo’s ‘Camelot’

Continually named among the world’s best hotels, Ashford Castle reached world fame in 2017 when it became the wedding venue of choice for Rory McIlroy and his fiancée.

Situated on grounds covering 350 acres, Ashford Castle overlooks the beautiful Lough Corrib in Cong, County Mayo. While the room rates might be a little steep for some, exploring Cong and the grounds of the castle offer a truly magical, majestic experience. ashfordcastle.comashford castle

9. Get Gobsmacked at Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste:

Downpatrick Head is a majestic heritage site found about 5km north of Ballycastle village.

Jutting out into the ocean and rising almost 40m above the waves, it provides unparalleled views of the Atlantic, including the unique collection of islands known as the Staggs of Broadhaven.

You can also spot the nearby Dún Briste sea stack, with its different coloured layers of rock and nesting seabirds. dunbriste.com
downpatrick head

10. Experience a bygone way of life at the National Museum of Ireland Country Life

A visit to the National Museum of Ireland Country Life is a great day out for the whole family, with plenty to see and do for everyone.

Home to the national collection of objects representing the traditional way of life in Ireland since 1850, the National Museum of Country Life is set in modern exhibition galleries in the spectacular grounds of Turlough Park House and surrounded by magnificent gardens and lake. As well as the Museum Galleries and the 19th-century Victorian Gothic house, the extensive grounds of Turlough Park feature gardens, woodland walks, a river and lake all overlooked by an ancient round tower. museum.ie/en/intro/country-life

BONUS TIP

11. Visit a Lost Valley

We couldn’t finish at ten; there were too many good ones to leave out. This one is definitely a hidden gem.

The Doolough Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in Ireland. The area is bogland which is uninhabited except for the intrepid sheep who seem quite content to have it to themselves.

Poignantly it is also home to a memorial of the Great Famine;. The memorial itself is a plain stone cross engraved with the words ‘Doolough Tragedy 1849’. A yearly walk is held along this route in memory of the Doolough dead and to highlight the starvation of the world’s poor still today. loveconnemara.com/item/doo-lough-valley/
doolough valley

Other Insider’s Tips:

  • Visit the Nephin Whiskey Emporium in Lahardane on Lough Conn
  • “Louisburgh for surfing and fishing. Mweelrea for mountain top views. Wild camping at Silver Strand. Cliff diving at old head and coasteering at Clare Island.” – Nora Gibbons.
  • Blogger Val Robus recommends glamping at Belmullet Coast Guard Station. This was voted one of the Top 50 places to stay along Ireland’s coastline by The Irish Times.

 

A huge thanks to all contributors. If you think we have missed something from this list please let us know info@lookwest.ie

 

 

 

Marble Beach, Donegal

Best West of Ireland Heatwave photos

The summer of 2018 is the summer that keeps on giving. We can’t keep up with the amount of Caribbean-esque shots we have seen of the stunning beaches we have right across the West of Ireland.

Is anybody feeling a little bit smug about where they live now?

Here are our top Insta picks from the heatwave so far.

With the current forecast, we think we will have to do Round Two next week. If you would like your shots to be included, please tag us @lookwestie and include #lookwest on your shots!

Co Clare:

Hands down one of the best #cliffsofmoher shots we have soon. There are over 400,000 on Instagram so that is quite an achievement @reeyco

Co Galway:

Where do we start with Galway? The shots from SeaFest alone could feel a whole article. Then those Connemara beach shots!!

Seriously though how stunning is this shot of Lettergesh Beach in Connemara?

Having all the bants in Salthill!

With thanks to @kokine009 for #repost: “☀When it’s summer in Galway ☀”

A post shared by Barnacles Hostels (@barnacleshostels) on

 

This one is an old Red Bull shot from Poll na bPéist, couldn’t not include it!

Connemara

A post shared by Aidan Maguire (@aidanjmaguire) on

Co Mayo:

Baywatch eat your heart out!

Wowza, having all the craic in Louisburgh!

Co Leitrim:

Zen-est sheep in Ireland award goes to?

Co Roscommon:

Blogger Magnumlady nails the Gaelic Chieftain at sunset.

Gaelic Chieftain sunset #roscommon #Ireland #irish #heatwave #statue #sculpture

A post shared by Val (@magnumlady) on

Co Sligo:

Sligo photographer Mark Capilitan seems to have the work-life balance nailed. Follow his feed for lots more stunning shots!

If it wasn’t for the beach & kayak, you’d think this water was a swimming pool!!

A post shared by Mark Capilitan (@markcap_photo) on

Its gonna be another one of those weeks 🌞🌞🌞

A post shared by Mark Capilitan (@markcap_photo) on

 Beautiful children at sunset shot from John Keating in Sligo.

Co Donegal:

South African photographer Ian Mitchinson’s feed is always a stunning feast of adventure shots from the North West. This Bundoran shot is a cracker!

 

Featured Image: Marble Hill Beach, Co Donegal via Ireland’s Content Pool