Surfing in Sligo

Not everyone can say they’ve been surfing, especially that they learned in Ireland. Well this past week that’s what a group of us did; we learned to surf in Strandhill, a village just outside Sligo on the west coast. Getting there is simple; in a matter of hours on the train we arrived in Sligo straight from Dublin Connoly station. On our way over we sat with a man who was a fountain of knowledge and made the three hour ride pass quickly.

View of Strandhill from the beach. (Photo by Claire Gannon) 

We stayed at a hostel in Strandhill that was also a surf school. I have only stayed in one hostel before in Australia… it was very clean and very modern, so I was a little surprised when we arrived (not in a negative way though).  It looked just like a house, and the inside was just as homey.

Strandhill surfers, on a warmer day. (Photo by Claire Gannon)

From the moment we arrived in Sligo everyone, the man on the train, the taxi drivers, and the manager of the hostel, all convinced us to go surfing. We found a TK Maxx (the equivalent to TJ Maxx in the states) in Sligo town and bought some bathing suits and attire that could easily go on under a wet suit. We walked around Sligo and found a Tesco… the biggest one I have seen, they even sold cakes that had the Stig from Top Gear! After our purchases we took a taxi back to the hostel and all headed to bed early so we could wake up at 8:00 and get ready to go surfing at 9:00. We were beyond excited!

The next morning we woke up to frost outside of our window and began debating whether or not we wanted to go. Soon it was time to head next door to meet our instructor Frank, a very friendly man who was surprised to be giving not one, but two lessons in January. We were given our wet suits and went to the outdoor changing room to suit up. The wet suits were damp so it was a very unpleaseant feeling, thankfully since they were so snug we felt a little bit warmer… but even with gloves and boots we were beginning to feel numb. We posed for our before photo with Frank, then grabbed our surfboards and headed down to the beach.

Patrick, Brooke, Kaisa & Jordan with Frank

We practiced ways to stroke on the board and how to stand up. What I discovered is that it’s a lot like yoga. We went out on the waves and it was a blast, not as hard as I’d expected it to be. It was a little nerve wracking at first, but Frank helped us by holding on to our board while we lay on it and as soon as we caught the wave he yelled “go!” and we knew then to stand up. After a few tries I got it and it was the greatest feeling. I was moving so fast and it barely felt like I was standing on anything at all. Afterwards we returned the boards and ran back to the hostel to take a warm shower.


This trip was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. We met some really great people and got to try out surfing! Who could ask for anything more?

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