Ireland part 5/5

by Graham


Flying through the green Irish sea. I love the sky color vs the water color.


Are you comfy and curled up in the cozy glow of your computer? Perfect, just the time to revisit cold cold Ireland. Goodbye warm, windy Maui. Hello to the chilly, rolling green hills of NE Ireland for the final installment of my Irish Saga.

Ireland skunked me. Well, kind of. I did not get the big waves and strong winds that I imagined, but I did get everything I wanted from the trip. I saw Ireland (a land whose literature I love), I spent time with my close friend Brendan, I revised a lot of my poems, and I planned an upcoming project with Brendan/umi that I’ve thought about every day since. So, the trip was pretty perfect for me. But all those things are boring for you, so I’ll instead tell tales about the locals.

Who are the locals of Easkey Village? Butchers and pubs. Butchers and pubs. Butchers and pubs. A town centered around meat and beer sounds intimidating, right? But NO! The rural Irish people are some of the nicest, most welcoming people I have ever met. Ever.

And is there anywhere else a more local people! The old-timers still live within a village or two from where they were born. In Hawaii (Hawaii is for hate), there exists a hell of a lot of animosity between “locals” and everyone else. And of course in Hawaii there are different levels of localness, and where you exist in this hierarchy determines who you can look in the eye or who you can poach waves from. As with Hawaii, in most places it seems that localness translates to a hate for the outside: a closed-mindedness about the world. But Ireland is the exact opposite!!!

Curious, friendly, and open to any sort of conversation, the Irish were the perfect remedy to the impotent windsurfing conditions. And with a strong pub culture, I had no problems finding a conversation to forget the weak winds.


One of the friendly Irish locals!


Case in point:

We spent the late afternoons and evenings trying to mingle with the locals at the Fisherman’s Weir Pub. There was one old man there who was in the same spot every single day. If you snuck into the pub during off hours, he’d probably still be sitting in the same spot sipping his Guinness. He had white white ever-white hair that fell down over his forehead. And he seemed to be missing a significant amount of teeth. His age was unplaceable— he was probably 80…or maybe 40. At first, in my stupidity, he seemed quite intimidating.

Our first contact with him was when Brendan and I stepped out of the pub one of the first times and he said, “Good luck lads”. These were his only words to us, and they made him even more of a mystery! Good luck? Thanks? But what do I need to be lucky about? Just life I guess?

So I made it a point to talk with this man. And I did. As with many conversations, ours started with talk of football (ie soccer). A game was on the television and somehow words were exchanged between the Old Timer and me. And then it got interesting.

Mr. Oldtimer went on talk and tell about his philosophical wisdoms gained in his life. He told me with authority that people don’t go to heaven when they die. “There is no Heaven,” he said. Put this in perspective: we were in Catholic Ireland, and a local is refuting one of the most fundamental tenants of Christianity! He said, the dead become stars. He was completely serious and cited Steven Hawking as saying that there are millions of new stars born each day and therefore it is possible that they are the souls of the dead (it appears the approximation for the number of new stars in the observable universe is 275 million per day). I was impressed by the vigor with which he applied his scientific reasoning to the problem of the afterlife. Respect!


The beauty of Ireland is layered, always with more under the surface or around the bend.


Talking about religion…what’s next, politics?… Yep!

Old Timer said that if a doctor told him that he only had a few weeks to live, he would strap himself with explosives, drive to Dublin, and blow up parliament. A veritable Guy Fawkes we got here! (btw, did you know that the slang word “guy” comes from Guy Fawkes?) Such intimate revelations to some strange boy from Hawaii.

Honestly I love the openness and honesty.

Speaking of honesty! I haven’t even yet said his best story.

Old Timer says that a few years ago, a big golf course opened in the town next door, Innischrone. Some of the best and most famous golfers in the world showed up for the grand opening of the new course. Being the big fan of golf that he is, Old Timer decided to watch the inaugural tournament.

After the first hole, it was 400 yards to the second. At this point in the story, Old Timer pauses, looks at me, and repeats “400 yards” so as to imprint the number in my brain. So then Old Timer says, “So I says to me friend, ‘400 yards! Me walk 400 yards? Fuuuuck that! Let’s go to the boozer.’”

He didn’t want to walk 400 yards to watch some of his favorite athletes play one of his favorite games. … … Let that sink in. …

What I love about that story is not that he didn’t want to walk 400 yards (I won’t go on to talk about how Brendan made the comparison to the 400 yard distance between the trenches in WW1) but that he was comfortable being completely open with a stranger.

Most people would be embarrassed about not wanting to walk 400 yards to see some of their favorite athletes in action. But Old Timer didn’t give a ****.


Going for a Nethanderal style air.


I want to express this candid honesty in my art. Is windsurfing an art? I don’t know. But I do know that I want to use windsurfing to express the philosophy I like. And what is art if not that?

I want my style to be completely honest, like the Old Timer’s. I don’t want it to be too polished or clean. I want my movements to be a bit wild and a true representation of how I feel. On one of the umi videos about me, someone commented “nethanderal style!” I don’t know what that means. Is it a compliment? Does he mean Neanderthal style? No matter; I love it. Nethanderal style to me symbolizes the rough, wild, powerful, playful, and honest approach that I try to bring to windsurfing.

Well, to be honest: it is a feeling I want SOME of the time, not all of the time. But anyway… Nethanderal style has become a term now for a certain kind of sailing that I love, a sailing that is marked by openness and honesty and the willingness to just put it out there. To step into the chaos and know that I will find footing somewhere.


0083_GrahamEzzy_Ireland_01 from umi rough cuts on Vimeo.


And while we are on the topic of telling the truth, I should confess that there are no perfect windsurfing trips. Every perfect trip or “I’m so stoked to be here” or “I just want to get wet” is a lie. A godawful lie. The conditions are NEVER actually perfect, and people complain 99% of the time. No one comes in from a session and says “wow, it is perfect today”. The wind is too onshore or the waves are too choppy or it’s too crowded or the wind is too light, etc. The only truth is that it was always better before you got there and after you left.

The point of all this is to say that even though the windsurfing conditions were not perfect for my January trip to Ireland, the conditions are never actually perfect anywhere. AND, my experiences with one of my closest friends and with the strange strangers made my trip as perfect as anything can ever be perfect.

In the end, I have only one thing to say. December. December. Remember December. I will be back to try again! Because traveling is not about amassing knowledge of places but instead a way to constantly refresh the mind like bathes in the sea.

And for me the best part of traveling is coming home. Coming home with new eyes. And Ireland did that and more and she will do it again. And hopefully next time I’ll get more windsurfing!

Thanks for reading (or just scrolling down the page),