With the annual anxiety we all share of summer slowly coming to an end, a small group of us decided that something needed to be done and preferably fast, before the short days and impending cold set in for one more year.
Our trip was mostly the brain child of our friend Cian Eades from Limerick based on whispers that he’d heard through the Irish skate scene that the mostly unexplored West of Ireland had quite the abundance of skate spots and even more alluring due to the fact that most of them where relatively untouched. Intrigued, Cian took to the best place possible for spot hunting, Google Street Maps, unearthing even more delectable locations than those he’d already been pointed towards. Even more surprising was the true story via a friend near the bottom of Ireland in Killarney about being recommended skate spots by his local police force. Surely this was all going to be too good to be true we thought but, as we’d later uncover, it wasn’t…
After the traditionally short lived “wouldn’t it be sick to…” talk most skaters encounter, we thought no further and sealed the deal with a Facebook chat and hastily began to piece together our trip.
With the anticipated date arriving I made the journey from Belfast towards the “free state” arriving in Dublin to meet the lads, soon after making tracks towards the first destination of the night in Limerick to grab the last member of the crew. We set up shop in Cian’s living room and got ourselves hyped for the trip ahead by watching the mesmerizing yet equally cringey “We are Blood”, thus providing us with plenty of hilarious quotes to dish out throughout our trip.
With two of Ireland’s finest hammer merchants, a photographer and filmer in one car and with the last minute decision to grab the soundtracks to Space Jam and Lion King we were surely set for any destination that the Emerald Isle had to offer.
Rising as early as our very little slumber from the night before would let us, and with one last spin on Google Street Maps before embarking into Wi-Fi territory unknown, we were soon back on the road heading West before making our way down the country towards Killarney, stopping off at anything that caught our eyes along the way.
Quite frankly nothing could have prepared us for what was in store.
With the generic stigma that has become attached to skateboarding over the years as far as the general public not being overjoyed to see skaters goes, and with it mostly being a relatively unknown thing in rural Ireland, we were all blown away to discover how little people cared about us skating their busy town centres throughout the deep West. Even more fascinating was how stoked some were to see us: quickly it all began to feel like something straight out of a China edit.
With the worst thing being said to us while skating private property comprising nothing more than a very vague, “just be careful”; things rapidly began to take on a fairly unfathomable sheen. This was compounded even further when we found ourselves at a ledge spot directly located in front of a library, the staff of which were kind enough to let our filmer, Ciaran, charge his batteries while we continued skating. Bizarrely brilliant turn of events right there…
These new found acts of kindness followed us all the way down the country where we arrived at Ireland’s most sought after travel destination, Killarney. Killarney holds this accolade for good reason, equipped with its own Lord of the Rings themed bar, Irish memorabilia as far as the eye can see and nothing but the sweet melodies of traditional music everywhere, this place was nothing short of rad.
We instantly found ourselves hooking up with one of the very few skate locals Killarney has on hand – funny bastard and straight up gentleman Podge, who was quick to give us the rundown of his fair old town, even hooking us up with a spot to camp, conveniently placing us in his enormous garden next to his stunning abode.
We arrived at our first spot in town while Podge ripped into Gav for bringing along his trusty brush on the trip to avoid any hilarious wheel biting scenarios.
The location of this spot is nothing short of ironic… in between, and I kid you not, an insurance company, government offices and most importantly, a Garda station. This was the spot I mentioned beforehand that a police man had recommended Podge take his mischief to. This ledge spot is a zero bust. Even at one point thinking I had landed myself in trouble when I was shooting a photo lying not too subtly in the middle of the road, a Garda van rolled up to me to get past and into the station, when I quickly got up to move all I heard him utter to me was, “Jeepers! That’ll make a quare ol’ photo!” Podge jokingly said to me straight after, “Man, everyone’s just fucking mad here…”
After the rain started to mizzle its way in, Podge suggested we head to one more spot to get a trick he’d been pondering about. None of us were really sure what he was on about and most of the party were too tired to care so we followed him to an old church while the rain began to pick up pace. Ciaran and I began to feel a bit sketch about bringing out the camera equipment but Podge and his loveable not giving a fuck attitude got straight to it and after a few hard tumbles rolled his trick away soon after informing Gav that the ground was 127 years old and his brush wouldn’t help him here.
With our first night’s camping on the cards we made as much effort to make ourselves at home as possible, starting with setting Gav’s iPad up in the corner of the tent in an attempt to block out any unwanted noise of torrential rain that was wreaking havoc outside. We were thankfully awakened by the glare of sunlight peeking through our thin tents and with what seemed like no time for food we quickly found ourselves at a handrail for Gav to enjoy his breakfast on.
Soon afterwards we said our goodbyes to the humble Podge and the captivating Killarney, setting our sights towards the famously coined “stab city” AKA Limerick. I’ve heard many grim stories over the years about this place, everything from pregnant woman fighting each other on the street, to people getting chased down the high street by needle wielding heroin addicts. Predominantly an area known for its travelling community and also notoriously home to a family known as “The Caseys” whose life of crime is painted all over Limerick along with their countless gruesome tales: Cian informed us that delivery trucks and even public transport won’t go near the area in which they reside.
After a quick phone call to one of the locals we tracked down a double set the lads had been itching to skate. On arrival it all seemed eerily quiet so we got straight to it when we promptly grabbed the attention of some passing traveller kids who were fascinated at first but soon turned hostile, constantly standing in the roll up, grabbing our equipment and threatening to get their relatives to sort us out. Luckily by the time the threats started rolling out, Gav and Cian had already landed their tricks and we swiftly packed up heading towards the city, hesitantly wondering what was in store for us next.
The next spot was located in a derelict industrial estate which we were ironically a bit thankful to hear as staying out of trouble was the preferable choice. Before making our way into the abandoned land we had to cut through a small, dilapidated building watching our steps for any needles and rats that might be lurking in the shadows. After spending most of the session fixing a rail securely to the side of a kicker we were stricken by the seemingly haunting noise of a horse and cart which Cian promptly explained meant that gypsies were in the area and more than likely coming here to scavenge for metal but more to the point, our camera equipment if they were willing to make it this far. With a moment of sheer panic we stayed low until the noise trotted off into the distance, soon followed by our hastily exit back to Cian’s for one less night of camping.
Upon awakening we decided to spend one last afternoon in Limerick, sticking to safer territory, we headed to skate the nearby university before moving out West again. After another successfully uninterrupted session was complete, we found ourselves strolling through the vast university grounds before heading off track and arriving at the foot of a decrepit castle. Taking the opportunity for us to grab some photos we climbed through a conventionally placed hole in the wall and up the spiralling narrow staircase to be greeted with a picturesque view out over the Limerick countryside before we made our way towards the harbour city of Galway.
On arrival we passed the city with the sunlight fleeing as rapidly as our hopes of finding somewhere amicable to camp for the night – until Ciaran did us all a solid and knocked on a stranger’s door in desperation to be greeted with the reply, “First thing, you looking to pay or camp for free?” Obviously we were looking ‘for free’, and so soon afterwards we found ourselves equipped with a scenic view over a lake in a quaint field. With the rain kicking in once again for another night we indulged our woes with some cheap booze from a nearby town, casually joined by one of Galway’s local rippers, Eamonn who thankfully kept us company for a few hours to catch up with the lads and talk some Irish skate bygones.
Much to our surprise we were woken yet again by the sun and the smell of tent sweat that swiftly follows. Enjoying a wake and bake and soaking up the last of the lakeside views, we headed towards Galway city centre to rendezvous with Eamonn and the local skaters. We dandered through what seemed like the never-ending university grounds jumping on anything skateable that crossed our tracks. Gav soon found himself blunting his way down a handrail when we spotted off in the not so far distance a pair of Garda making their way slowly towards us. Fearing the worst, Ciaran and I charged around trying to get our shots while Gav rushed back to get his trick before the inevitable kick out. Five minutes later we were scratching our heads again after finding ourselves being politely ignored by the officers who didn’t even have the care to look in our direction, ridiculous…
Bidding our farewells to the locals and the West one last time we headed East towards home, dodging the hustle and bustle of Dublin city and soon landing ourselves in the seaside town of Bray. With one last day of the trip in our grasp, Gav contacted local bowl shredder and beard enthusiast, Fun Bobby, for a place to camp but soon ended up with a spot in his living room for the night.
Rising early and becoming the key player for this trip we took a trip further South arriving in Greystones with enough time for a quick stroll to get some breakfast – we grabbed ourselves the staple diet of nearly any Irish person in a rush, the tantalising chicken fillet roll. En route to the spot we were all taken by surprise when we darted past the infamous, “Down with this sorta thing!” cinema scene from the legendary Irish comedy “Father Ted”. Sadly not finding the time to stop, we shortly arrived at a double set located at a busy shopping complex teeming with people. Ciaran and I quickly began setting up our kit while the lads gave the set a quick seeing over before we were confronted by a security guard interested in knowing what the hell we were about to do. After we gave him the run down he seemed confused but strangely more than happy for us to continue, provided we kept watch for the general public and got on our way after five minutes.
This was all we needed to hear and not long after the lads were soon greeted by the screams and applause of passing stoked shoppers as they rolled the final tricks of our exasperating 500 mile expedition up and down the breath taking West coast of Ireland.
With five whole days of solid skateboarding behind us and with not even a single kick out to account for we were all for the most part shocked, but equally appreciative on the overall success rate.
So there you have it, what can I say? I only I wish we’d do this more often, you start to forget how big and grand your country can be sometimes when you stay in one place for too long…
Massive shout out to all the old and new faces we met along the way for the places to crash, spot guiding and for letting us use all your warm water…