Posted by: smithdavid | June 17, 2012

Faith once more

I can’t help smiling as I look out on the rolling waves. Behind me the car door has barely shut, the driver’s seat still warm from my body. Beneath me the rocks that separate beach and car park bear me with a permanence that is in contrast to my own. Already I feel an ease that I do not feel in Dublin.

It’s a conservative choice to come here: Rossnowlagh does not seethe with angry rips; her long beach-break provides a wave for all who care to get in. For a while I think of Rhys, the Aussie I met ten years ago. Rhys took a snowboard straight to the steepest black slope while the rest of us beginners toiled anxiously on the baby runs. I should have that daring. But for one reason or another I don’t. So I’ve come to a gentle beach which I’ve surfed before for my first solo surf trip.

rossnowlagh cliffs

Even though the worst of winter is probably over it is still cold enough to put all the gear on. It’s just my mouth, eyes and nose showing as I wade into the water.

This time there are no violent breakers crashing into me. I walk with ease to chest height. Now and then I lift the mini-mal over one that has gently broken. There is just enough in these to get up on. Before I get too far in I see one rise and I turn the mini-mal. After the pounding I took in Strandhill I want to prove to myself that I can still do it. A few stokes and the board catches and then it’s knees and then I’m up.

It’s a short, inelegant ride but for me it’s full of triumph.

Before long there is another. And then another. Who was that person who didn’t even get up in two hours of toil in Strandhill?

There are a few others in. Beside me a dark haired girl is popping up onto two foot waves with far more style than my cumbersome efforts.

‘Great to be in, isn’t it?’ And like it always is with other surfers, that is enough to break the ice. We talk in between catching waves.

‘Where you staying?’ she asks. I point back towards the Sandhouse Hotel. ‘We’re in a house up there,’ she says, motioning to the cliffs to the left of the bay. ‘We’re going to Smuggler’s later, it’s the one on the left, join us if you want…’ And so casting my faith out into the ocean has provided me company as well as waves to surf.

I leave the solitude and stillness of the Sandhouse later and walk along the murky beach. A narrow road leads up to the top of the cliffs and to the Smugglers Creek Inn. Inside I sit alone at the bar and read a paper. Briefly my faith dips.

small and consistent in rossnowlagh

But soon A. and her group of friends are there. ‘Who is the better surfer?’ one of them asks when we are introduced. ‘I’ve been surfing for longer…’ she says generously.

Drinks are bought. Laughter follows. S., a Phil Lynnot lookalike, joins a group of middle-aged women on the dance floor. More laughter. On all sides. Good natured.

Before we know it the lights are turned up bright. But there is no real talk of going home. Everyone still there has merged into one large, song singing group.

At last I leave – it’s long, long past midnight. I walk happily down the narrow street and back along the beach. This was not the outcome I imagined when I set out from Dublin eighteen hours ago – the perfect reward for faith.



  1. Excellent stuff, makes me remember my own successful solo adventures. Nothing like it!

  2. Evocative writing. Makes me wish I was there.

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