paramilitaries and not the pointbreaks that hold sway over the minds of the impressionable. With the huge unemployment and massive boredom of rainy rural life, many become involved with the armed struggle for a sense of worth, of belonging to a crowd. The fact that for a lot of the time ‘paramilitary activity’ is synonymous with ‘organised crime’ only adds to the problem, as it can be an easy way to make a fast buck. For an east coast kid bored and broke and freezing this violent alternative lifestyle is just way too irresistible. It’s hard to see how the slow-burn return of the wet life can compete. But there is hope. In the last eighteen months I have seen the surfing population increase by four hundred percent at my local break. On the west this would be bad news, but we need it here on the east. And it’s not like we don’t have the room. A year ago it was me and the seals. Now we have kiteboarders, windsurfers, sand-yachters, dirt-boarders, vehicles of every kind, only minutes from this forgotten village. Who knows where this will lead? If enough surfers ride enough waves on enough vehicles and enough people see them doing it, will some kind of critical mass be reached? Will those who need it the most will look to the ocean, see us in it and say “hey, can I have a go at that?” Maybe, but it won’t happen if we’re all beachridden with a bad case of V.D. But fortunately, if you do find yourself high and dry with a dose of the vehicular discriminations, the cure is a simple three-step exercise. 1. Dump your own prejudices, you don’t need them. 2. Ride as many different vehicles as you can. 3. Be tolerant of what others are riding. Follow these simple instructions and in no time at all your condition will clear, you’ll be totally stoked and with any luck a huge inspiration to others. And you’ll be surprised who else is doing their own version of the three-step system. Who would have thought we would ever see Messrs McGuinness and Paisley sitting smiling at the same table? If they can overcome their lifetime prejudices to take the country forward, can’t we all float in the same ocean together? Because even with her many problems, Ireland remains an island of magic. I have surfed here with travellers of every nationality, and the one consistency in all the varying accents, colours and styles is the total stoke our waters provide. Every wave across the planet offers something new and original to the travelling surfer, but there is something magical about this land and this ocean, something ethereal, elusive, felt more by the soul than the senses. Surfing here is a gift, a privilege. Inspiring others to share it can only benefit us all.
Emerald Wall Mickey Smith
The first in a series of books about the places we surf. Invited writers, artists and photographers spend some time in one place at one time...