Corned Beef and Surf
Well, bop me with a shillelagh and pour me a pint of green beer; St. Patrick’s Day is almost here. Since my girlfriend is Irish (well… her family’s Irish; she’s from Simi Valley), St. Patrick’s Day has become a significant holiday in the Slater household. In fact, for this year’s celebrations I was told we were having a “genuine” Irish dinner: Corn beef and cabbage with a side of soda bread. I thought that because the meal was supposed to be “genuinely” Irish there would be at least one potato, but alas, I was mistaken. Now I guess I’ll just have to be content with the boiled cabbage—oh, because there’s nothing quite as delicious (or nutritious) as cabbage. Yum.
Actually, in all honesty, I’m looking forward to this dinner (sans boiled cabbage, thank you very much). I’m not too familiar with Irish cuisine, so I’m excited to try something new. So, with that said, in honor of good ol’ St. Patrick and the dinner my girlfriend will be preparing this weekend (and I’ll be thoroughly enjoying), I thought I’d give you a bit of background on the surf history of Ireland.
Surfing was first introduced to the Emerald Isle in 1963, when an English customs officer rode his British-made board near a jetty in the Northern Ireland town of Castlerock. At around the same time, an Irishman named Kevin Cavey (who had taken up the sport of bellyboarding in his youth) had decided to give surfing a go. He ordered a surfboard-kit from England, and built his own board. In fact, in 1966 Cavey traveled to San Diego to represent Ireland in the World Surfing Championships. The Surf Club of Ireland was formed in 1966 in Bray, and in the summer of 1969, an Irish team attended the first European Surfing Championships. Currently, Ireland is home to several thousand surfers, dozens of surf shops and schools, and scores of epic breaks.
Ireland’s 1,700-mile coast is relatively wave rich; powerful North Atlantic storms often generate sizeable surfing conditions. Irish surf can sometimes peak at over 15 feet+, as evidenced by this recent big-wave surfing video from Surfline.com. The weather though, is the only downside; it’s usually damp, cold, and generally blustery. It also doesn’t help that average water temperatures are usually pretty chilly too: In the summertime, the water’s in the low 60s F, and in the winter it’s usually in the high 30s F.
Cold water aside, Ireland has (arguably) some of the best waves in Europe, and it’s definitely worth a surf trip. I hope you all have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day, and if you can, catch a few waves to celebrate! I’ll see you out in the water.