Photographer’s Stories – Craig Dodds

Our latest Photographer’s Stories from the past year comes from photographer Craig Dodds, coming through with a selection of captured shredding from across the Irish sea and shining a light on some lesser covered spots and towns – with a good story or two along the way…

Cian Eades front blunts above the abyss.

At the peak of the annual festival season skaters from all corners of Ireland and even a few faces from the DC team across the pond began making their way towards the Sea Sessions Festival in Bundoran to join each other for some mini ramp carnage and the inevitable beer soaked banter that swiftly follows.

With only the Belfast lads and myself there for the first night of camping, the small seaside town in the North of Ireland had already been engulfed in adolescent chaos. We remained blissfully unaware on just how truly out of our element we were about to be feel until we got round to setting up our tents. The phrase “I remember my first beer” became highly overused by the end of our sleepless night spent being not so conveniently placed under a large flood light, accompanied by the close range dissonance of terrible music and the all too often occasion of being kicked in the head while trying to sleep by passing inebriates at 7am.

Thankfully by the morning the rest of the lads had already arrived to give us some much needed company. With the mini ramp still in the process of being set up we gathered the troops and took a cruise along the town’s promenade to pass the time.

When we stumbled upon this I didn’t give much thought into bothering to get my camera out – the sheer drop down the cliff face along with the coastal Atlantic winds were sure to put everyone off – but the lads started sessioning it! My palms were sweating like crazy watching this all happen. Cian’s board even fell down the hefty drop at one point on one attempt, narrowly missing a man and his dog below.
Fear got the better of one of our mates, Pete Kelly, who nearly backside feebled it – what the fuck, imagine standing in a grind looking down that drop… Cian, on the other hand, battled through the coastal winds to thankfully land this bluntslide safe and sound.

Gav Coughlan with a crust-clearing kickflip, landing in yet more crust.

This is from one of mine and Cian’s many trips down to Dublin for the weekend, setting up shop in Casa del Gav’s during the beginning of the year while the winter weather was still lingering.

With the day before being a complete wash out we crossed our fingers and went to sleep, only to have our hopes and dreams shattered by a brief but equally heavy snow shower. With little options on the table we opted for shelter, which turned out to be in a little makeshift skatepark just outside of the city for most of the day.

With the session over and the snow gone the lads were warmed up and still pumped for a skate. We decided not to waste the rest of the day even though it was bone rattlingly cold and ventured off to the seaside town of Dun Laoghaire.

Lots of rad spots reside in this place and are all relatively close to each other, but with the most significant being a newly built plaza we learnt to be a swift shutdown we soon had to take our mischief elsewhere. This was located up a long hill to the top of the town where the streets seemed eerily quiet. Safe to say we fixed that on our way back down after Gav bolted this kickflip second try over the wall to flat.

Marc Beggan – frontside nosebluntslide shapes.

Easily one of the people I’ve been shooting with the longest over the years has to be Marc – yes MARC, not Mark – Beggan.  I’m always grateful these days when we get to shot something as most of the time he’s tied down to spending long hours at work, D.I.Ying at his gaff, and of course the inevitable girlfriend time most men have to endure. I’m amazed he can still find the time to fit a skate in and is always down to get that perfect shot no matter how many times I fuck it up, sorry Mark, I mean Marc!

We’d always felt a bit sketched out about trying to skate this place when we first heard whispers through the grape vine it had been built, seeing as how it is a war memorial and how its located in a very Protestant Carrickfergus. But once we’d seen some local legend had unknobbed parts of the ledge there was to be no turning back! Surprisingly I’m almost sure we’ve yet to receive any grief for skating here – that I’ve no doubt gone ahead and jinxed now.

This definitely has to be my favourite photo so far I’ve shot with Marc, even due to the stress that my flashes were being blown over every couple minutes. I like the way the colours he’s wearing link up along with the back drop and the fact that shooting blunts is so much fun just simply how it causes the body to contort into such a rad shape.

Gav Coughlan, frontside bluntslide with tacit approval from the authorities.

I was over the moon to hear that we’d finally given up on the “wouldn’t it be sick” chats and got our act together enough to travel round rural Ireland’s untouched gems we’d heard so much about just before summer rolled around to a close. Towards the end of our trip we found ourselves waking up in a field surrounded by what we hoped wasn’t bull shit (no pun intended), on the outskirts of Galway that a local man had recommended as a camping spot for the night.

With the night before spent drinking beers underneath a tiny tarp in the pissing rain, no frowns were in sight as we were joined by local legend Eamonn and his girlfriend to keep us company before meeting us the next morning to show us around.

The main thing I think we all agreed on by the end of our six day journey that blew us away the most was how little people seemed to care while watching us skate their perfect marble ledges/handrails. Our friend Podge, who we met along the way, described it best; “They don’t give a fuck because there’s no scene to create a stereotype, it’s always the same three or four skaters who skate so they know we’re grand like”.

This was one of those occasions whilst exploring the vast grounds of Galway University that was teeming in places to skate. Right by the entrance was this handrail that Cian and Gav had just got round to warming up on before the ball crushing sight of two Garda appeared and slowly began making their way towards us. With everyone thinking the worst we panicked, thinking an inevitable kick out was surely on the rise, but we were politely ignored by the Garda and the all clear was given to resume normal service.

Cian Eades back smith amongst a visual metaphor for the Decline of Western (Irish) Civilisation

Growing up watching this guy skate through the dope Mount Kennet edits via the interweb, with his heavy hit list of tricks, I never quite thought the opportunity would ever arise to get shooting any sort of street photo with him – typical optimistic me.

Humble as hell, Cian is a straight up killa and a true shentleman to hang about with. This was from his neck of the woods during our Siar trip in Limerick AKA Stabcity. With a city being coined the above there is obviously plenty of questionable behaviour to go along with it. Lots of gypsies are situated in Limerick who are notorious for taking no nonsense off anyone, which on this occasion we were all too close to almost learning.

Escaping the city centre, we headed to a nearby industrial estate that had been left to deteriorate. A lot of our time here was spent safely securing this rail to stay upright along with a severe brush up session to sweep away the past decay. We must have spent at least half an hour shifting and moving this rail about, chucking all sorts of things behind it in hopes that we’d found that magic spot to make it stay still. If you look carefully in the photo you can see two big metal poles on either side we crammed into each corner, which ended up saving the day.

Just before we were about to depart with the gruesome stories of gypsies from the local skaters still fresh in our minds, we hid from view as Cian warned us that the sound of a horse and cart meant that gypsies were close by and scavenging for anything worth any amount of money. We kept ourselves and our camera equipment well out of sight.

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