Posted by: smithdavid | May 5, 2013

Clean at Tullan

We’re sitting on the rocks again at Rossnowlagh car park. Glen is on a three-legged camping chair in the back of his Bryan S. Ryan transit, looking out the open back door. To one side of the van are his two boards, a 10’2″ and a 9’4″ – life’s too short to learn a short board. Whichever board he is not using, someone else is welcome to use, as long as they look after it. Nicky and Tara are on skateboards, coasting up and down the length of the car park.

Every now and then, someone else will comment on how much the sea has flattened out since yesterday. Someone has even suggested going to Tullan Strand, Bundoran, though it was under their breath, in a tone similar to that which would be used when admitting that you think SUPping is beter than surfing.

But we have looked on MagicSeaweed and Windguru, chances of things improving here are slim. ‘Glen, Nicky, Tullan…’ I whisper into the breeze. But they shake thier heads.

Now Emmet and I are in the Tullan car park.

clean at tullan..

clean at tullan..

‘Cleaner than I’ve ever seen it,’ says Emmet.

‘Me too,’ I say thinking of the messy whitewater that I surfed on my only other visit here.

Soon we’re suited up and have come down the rocky path are are paddling out to the line-up. Everyone in the surrounds seems to have heard that Tullan is clean, the surf area is peppered with black wetsuits. There is just enough space for me to find a slot for. Emmet takes his 8′ custom farther out, as he always does, he likes catching them well before they’ve broken.

I sit for a while, watching as Emmet makes a wave from way out back and rides, crouched, towards the cliffs at the car park. I paddle a little farther out, see a wave pitching, and then paddle for it.

sunset at smugglers...

sunset at smugglers…

But there is no traction on Matilda, and the wave leaves me in its wake.

I paddle back towards the shore, wait for a while. Another wave jacks, I paddle, this time I’m up and riding once more. I shift my weight this way and that, Matilda responds. Then the ride is over and I dive into the water.

And so it is for the afternoon.

‘Best I’ve seen it here,’ says Emmet, when eventually we come out.

When we get back to Rossnowlagh, everyone is still/back at Glen’s van. A few tins are cracked.

‘You shoulda been there,’ I say, ‘six foot, glassy barrells…’ They smile, a few shake their heads, sip from there beers.

Now we’re up at Smugglers, looking down at the innocuous lines of swell that pulse in towards the Sandhouse and farther on up the beach, the green hills of Donegal. Conor phoned Smugglers for a table before we came up, all they had was outside because of the Bank Holiday, but no-one is complaining. We sit there watching the sky turn a richer shade of pink and then ocean blue. Then it is cool and dark.



  1. as always I feel as if I’m right there and 10 years ago that Leigh-Anne and I came and saw you in Ireland I love the sea and I can feel the atmosphere the way you place us in the surf zone

    • glad you enjoy it, coz. can’t believe that it’s ten years already…hope all zen there…

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