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Nic Von Rupp rides a wave at Mullaghmore, County Sligo Photo by: Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Thrill seeking surfers arrive to storm battered Irish west coast (VIDEO)

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Nic Von Rupp rides a wave at Mullaghmore, County Sligo Photo by: Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

A status orange weather warning is in place nationwide in Ireland – with a combination of gale force winds, high tides and very high seas hitting the country, but this hasn’t deterred thrill-seeking surfers from heading to Ireland's beautiful West coast to chase the big waves.

Surfers are braving the storms at Mullaghmore Head, Co Sligo, with visitors arriving from California, Portugal and Spain to ride storm-lashed waves.

Waves of more than 40 feet occasionally rose to double the height with driving winds at Mullaghmore and off south Co Donegal coasts. While emergency safety teams were in place to observe the action, the surfing went down a storm, apart from the odd wipe-out here and there.

The Irish Independent reports that Storm Christine has helped to put Ireland on the international big surf map, according to enthusiasts who have been risking the high seas. Henry Moore is chairman of the Irish Surfing Association, and at 50 still likes to tackle the big waves.

The Sligo man was bloodied but unbowed after a mishap off Mullaghmore when his surfboard
snapped in half hitting him in the nose.

"I had a few rumbles all right," said Henry.

"These sort of conditions put Ireland on the big wave surfing map and that's why so many people have flown in from France, the USA, Germany, Spain and Portugal."

He said modern wetsuits were making Ireland a destination for surfers all year round.

"Fifteen years ago, you wouldn't have done this in January but with the technology of the modern wetsuits it makes surfing possible all year round because the suits keep the cold out."

Other thrill-seekers were aiming to get into the barrel of the 30ft-40ft waves, with one surfer describing the water breaking on his back feeling like "a ton of bricks."
 
Most of the spectators were surfers who came from abroad but they had no intention of surfing the dramatic waves, leaving it instead to the professionals.

Nic Von Rupp, from Portugal, was taking no chances. Wearing three life jackets, he said he “hoped to come out in one piece”.

The Irish Times spoke to Neil Britton from the Finn McCool Surf School in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, who also went surfing at Mullaghmore.

He said: “People from California, South Africa and Portugal and other European countries contacted me. These are unprecedented waves and they would have checked the surf sites in advance before traveling.

“We’ve had some bigger waves in the past in Mullaghmore but these are also quite extraordinary. The big surf waves have probably peaked, but we can expect the visitors to stay around for a few days longer to catch more giant waves.”

Check out some of the amazing footage from RTÉ News of the brave surfers:

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