Posted by: smithdavid | January 5, 2014


Emmet and I are in at Rossnowlagh, it’s the first time I’ve surfed since the fractured shoulder. The first wave I caught was a scramble to make but once I was on it, the old feeling was back – the rush of water, periphery blurred, the sensation of floating.

But now as I paddle I can feel stiffness in my shoulder (where the deltoid attaches to the humerous to be exact). It’s small swell and nothing is jacking up too quickly so it’s not a matter of life or death but it is making things a little more difficult than they should be. Also, fitness is a factor – you can run as much as you like but there is no substitute for time in the water, paddling.

I take a wave, it’s half-broken and a small but I manage to get up, ride it for a while. When I’m done and am paddling back out I see that Emmet has moved down the beach to where the waves are peaking more consistently. I paddle a little more, arm aching but still mobile. When I reach the backline, I sit up on the 8’7″ hire board, catch my breath.

rossnowlagh cliffs...

rossnowlagh cliffs…

Down the beach, at the peak, Emmet takes one. He’s a little slow getting up but there is forgiveness in the Rossnowlagh waves and he trims so that he’s close to the lip, lets the wave take him all the way to the cliffs in the corner.

Envious of his ride, I take the next plausible looking wave. But my calf has cramped and I can’t pop-up. I slip off the board, cursing. I try to straighten my toes to ease the cramp. This has never happened before, to me it’s a simple case of too much time away from the sea.

Now I paddle towards the peak, stiff shoulder and all. I find Emmet in the line-up and then see a longboarder carving by. There is a streak of blonde hair, a ginger beard. There’s no doubt who it is.

‘Look what the tide brought in,’ says Glen, smiling, as he paddles past me on the way to the backline. It’s been over a year since we surfed together last.

‘Couldn’t stay away…’ I say.

‘Looks like you’re out of practice…’

‘Shoulder injury,’ I say.

‘Everyone has an excuse…’ he says. ‘I’m parked in the corner, catch up later…’ He motions to the car park, the unmistakeable Bryan S. Ryan van is there. Then he paddles out for another one.

finn mccool's (small building beside sandhouse hotel)

finn mccool’s (small building beside sandhouse hotel)

Emmet gets a few more long, clean rises. I paddle around for a few, never really picking anything up.

We go in at last. I’m disappointed but the feeling fades quickly, there is clean air to breathe, waves to listen to.

Emmet and I make the call to stay in Rossnowlagh as we change out of our wetsuits. We speak to Neil, there is space in Finn McCool’s Surf Lodge but we’ll have to share with a girl. We shrug our shoulders, how bad can that be?

We take our bags upstairs, Emmet starts to unlock the room door and there is a shriek from inside.

‘Can you hang on a minute? I’m changing…’

Emmet pulls his face into an ‘oops’ expression.

‘No problem, take your time…’ I say. We drop our bags in the hallway, look out the window to the green slopes of Donegal.


  1. Brilliant!!! I can record some sound effects for the shriek if you like!

    • nah, it’s okay. the shriek still echoes in my head from time to time…

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