A surfer gets ready to ride the waves in Easky, County SligoTourism Ireland

The first surfer on record in Ireland was Joe Roddy, an industrious 14-year-old in County Louth who hit the waves on a paddle board he made from a work book manual.
 
Today there are 50,000 surfers in Ireland, which has become a popular destination for the world’s surfing community. According to the Irish Sirf Association, the first Irish National Championship was held in 1967, and the sport has been on the up ever since.

The west of Ireland, with its craggy coastlines, is the first place for the massive waves from the Atlantic to crash ashore, creating excellent surfing conditions.

Just last year, surfers from around the globe were drawn to Ireland when 55-foot waves smashed into the west coast as a result of a low-pressure system.

The New York Times reported that surfers migrate yearly to coast in Co. Donegal from places like the U.S. and New Zealand to experience a weekend of wild, winter surfing.

So there is plenty of surf in Ireland to please the pro, but for those of us who are not even sure how to stand on a surf board, there are about 40 surf schools, and surfing lessons, coaching, board hire and wetsuit hire are available at most surf clubs.

Here’s a guide on where to surf:

Northern Ireland

BREAK TYPE: beach

WAVE DIRECTION: left

IDEAL WIND: southerly

IDEAL SWELL: north westerly

IDEAL TIDE: low - mid

HAZARDS: none

AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 8°C - 14°C

DIFFICULTY: intermediate

Portrush, a seaside town in Co. Antrim, is the home of surfing in Northern Ireland. Here you can find waves on both the West and East Strands. This resort town features several surf shops and schools.


North West

BREAK TYPE: beach

WAVE DIRECTION: various

IDEAL WIND: southerly

IDEAL SWELL: northerly

IDEAL TIDE: all

HAZARDS: none

AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 8°C - 14°C

DIFFICULTY: beginner

Great waves can be found in numerous locations in Co. Donegal on Ireland’s West Coast. Popular locations include Inishowen and Fanad Head to the north, Dunfanagh, Bloody Foreland and Dungloe in the northwest and Rossnowlagh, the home of one of Ireland’s first surf clubs, and Bundoran in the south of the county. The last two sites are often regarded as two of the best surfing locales in all of Ireland.

Co. Sligo is equally as popular as Co. Donegal when it comes to Irish surfing. In fact, Sligo’s Strandhill is one of the most popular surfing spots in Ireland. All of West Sligo is an area known for its quality surf. Prime locations include Aughris, Easkey and Enniscrone.


West Coast (Co. Mayo)

BREAK TYPE: beach

WAVE DIRECTION: various

IDEAL WIND: north easterly

IDEAL SWELL: westerly

IDEAL TIDE: mid - high

HAZARDS: none

AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C

DIFFICULTY: beginner

Mayo offers some good surf as well. The main locations for surfing in Co. Mayo are Belmullet, Achill Island and the beaches in the Westport area.


West Coast (Co. Clare)

BREAK TYPE: beach / reef

WAVE DIRECTION: various

IDEAL WIND: easterly

IDEAL SWELL: westerly

IDEAL TIDE: all

HAZARDS: rocks / crowds

AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C

DIFFICULTY: intermediate

Clare’s Lahinch is the surfing base in the county. The town offers a number of surf shops and schools for both beginner and experienced surfers.


South West

BREAK TYPE: beach

WAVE DIRECTION: various

IDEAL WIND: northerly

IDEAL SWELL: southerly

IDEAL TIDE: low

HAZARDS: submerged obstacles

AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C

DIFFICULTY: beginner

In Co. Kerry, visit Ballybunion or Castlegregory, which have diverse waves.

You can also surf along most of the coast along Co. Cork, but the beaches around Clonakilty are the most well-known in the county.  Like all of the main surfing locations, there are both surf shops and schools there and in Cork City.


South East

BREAK TYPE: beach

WAVE DIRECTION: right

IDEAL WIND: easterly

IDEAL SWELL: southerly

IDEAL TIDE: all

HAZARDS: none

AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C

DIFFICULTY: beginner

Co. Waterford in the south of Ireland has spots to surf in as well. The most popular surf locale in the county is the seaside town of Tramore, a short drive from Waterford city. Tramore is the home of one of the country’s oldest and most active surf clubs, the T-Bay Surf Club.

 
East Coast

Waves on Ireland’s East Coast are not as consistent as the rest of the Irish coastline, but surfers can find decent waves on the beaches in Co. Dublin. Dublin is the base for the East Coast Surf, one of the largest surf clubs in Ireland.

Beach stats courtesy of www.beachwizard.com  (Note: I emailed them asking for permission; waiting to hear back.)

 

SURF SCHOOLS IN IRELAND

(Irish Surfing Association Approved)

ANTRIM
Portrush
Troggs Surf School
Web site: www.troggssurfschool.com

CLARE
Fanore
Aloha Surf School
Web site: www.surfschool.tv

Lahinch
Ben’s Surf Clinic
Web site: www.benssurfclinic.com

The Green Room Surf School
Web site: www.greenroomlahinch.com

Lahinch Surf School
Web site: www.lahinchsurfschool.com

Ocean Scene
Web site: www.oceanscene.ie

Miltown Malbay
White Water Surf Co.
E-mail: patandorlakeane@hotmail.com

CORK
Ballinspittle
GTown Surf School
Web site: www.surfgtown.com

Inchydoney
West Cork Surf School
Web site http://www.westcorksurfing.com

DONEGAL
Bundoran
Bundoran Surf Co.
Web site: www.bundoransurfco.com

Donegal Adventure Center
Web site: www.donegaladventurecentre.net

TurfnSurf Lodge and Surf School
Web site: www.turfnsurf.ie

Cresslough
Jaws Watersports
Web site: www.jawswatersports.com

Fanad
Adventure One Surf School
Web site: www.adventureone.net

Inishowen
Inishowen Surf School
Web site: http://www.inishowensurfschool.com/

Letterkenny
Gartan Outdoor Education Center
Web site: http://www.gartan.com/

Rossnowlagh
Finn McCool Surf School
Web site: http://www.donegalsurfing.com/

KERRY
Tralee
Kingdom Waves Surf School
Web site: http://www.kingdomwaves.com

GALWAY
Leenane
Delphi Adventure Center
Web site: www.delphimountainresort.com

MAYO
Ballina
UISCE
Web site: www.uisce.com

Louisburgh
Surf Mayo
Web site: www.surfmayo.com

SLIGO
Enniscrone
North West Surf School
Web site:  www.nwsurfschool.com

Seventh Wave Surf School
Web site: www.seventhwavesurfschool.com

Strandhill
Perfect Day Surf School
Web site:  www.perfectdaysurfing.com

Strandhill Surf School
Web site:  www.strandhillsurfschool.com

WATERFORD
Tramore
Oceanic Manoeuvres Surf School
Web site: www.oceanicmanoeuvres.com

T-Bay Surf School
Web site: www.surftbay.com