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Published: February 2008Exploring Ireland's Wild West Coast
Ireland

Ireland Uncorked

It’s Ireland’s Gilded Age! So go on: Surf a mythic 40-foot break, kayak the crystalline coastline, and hike the unmarked wilds. But please, for your own good, don’t step in the fairy blood.

Text by Gregory Mone
Photograph by Alex Di Suvero

The ancient rulers of Ireland, the Tuatha Dé Danann, had a rough few millennia after losing control of the island. Some were banished, others turned into fairies, and a good many transformed themselves into horses and hid in a cave in the small town of Kilcorney, in the southwest. They remained there until one morning some centuries ago, when the sun shone into the cave so fiercely that the horses became crazed. They bolted out, galloped north up the coast, and leaped off the 700-foot-tall Cliffs of Moher into the bright green Atlantic Ocean below.

This was the last anyone heard of them until 2004, when whispers started to spread of a rare but world-class wave, called Aill Na Serracht (Cliff of the Foals), that breaks right where the horses plunged into the sea. The wave, in the right conditions, generates 40-foot walls of water that tumble over into barrels big enough to bury a Cadillac Escalade. Gavin Gallagher, a 27-year-old surfer who is making a documentary about the break, likes to think those mystic colts are providing the force. With that wild leap, the Tuatha Dé Danann granted Irish surfers a one-of-a-kind wave.

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