Ireland weeks 6 & 7

The following are some of the things I thought were interesting over the 6th and 7th weeks I was in Ireland.

Mullaghmore, County Sligo

I decided to drive over to the west coast of Ireland again so I could do more survey training and outreach. Unfortunately, the person I was supposed to meet to do the training canceled at the last minute so there was a mad dash to find something else to do. Luckily a previous Coastwatch volunteer was willing to meet me. So, I traveled to Mullaghmore Beach, County Sligo.

Mullaghmore Beach, County Sligo.

Mullaghmore head is a place that I have seen numerous times in the surfing media, as it is home to one of the most famous waves in Ireland. Winter swells can produce waves that are 20 ft. +, so I was excited to visit this area. I met up with Dr. Diana Brown who walked with me along Mullaghmore Beach, along with her wonderful dog.

I was very surprised at how clean this beach was compared to other beaches I have seen throughout Ireland. We ended up doing 4 survey units or 2km of beach and only found a few pieces of trash and a large piece of plastic. This is in large part to the residents of the Mullaghmore community that make an effort to clean the beach anytime they walk the shore.

Mullaghmore has a very healthy dune system and small lake in the hinterlands. There is also a small stream coming from the lake that divides the beach into two sections and on northern bank there is peat from an ancient bog being uncovered by the tides. Peat is an important fuel source for heating in Irish homes, however it is a very dirty fossil fuel.

Dr. Diana Brown standing in front of the exposed peat with her dog.

There was a wide variety of shells in Mullaghmore. The shells I found include Razor shells, Donax, Cockles, Striped Venus, Top shells, Sand Gapers, and Limpets. I also found evidence of lugworms and Sand Masons. The presence of all of these on the beach are signs of a healthy beach ecosystem.

Shells found from the survey.
Brilliant view of the Donegal Mountains and Mullaghmore Beach from Dr. Diana Brown’s sunroom.

Bundoran, County Donegal

After I was finished with the survey I decided to head north 20 minutes to go for a quick surf. I paddled out at another one of Ireland’s premier spots for surfing called “The Peak.” Not too long ago this legendary wave was threatened by the development of a harbour, but local action helped to prevent that harbour from being built thus saving the wave. I lucked out when I got there because there were only 2 guys surfing. The wave there actually reminded me of a wave I surfed in Hawaii last year. It was good craic (that’s Irish for fun)  up until I noticed a foul smell coming from the water. That didn’t keep me from surfing though…however, after my session I started to feel sick to my stomach and later that night I became really sick and vomited at the hostel I was staying at. As it turns out, Bundoran and the peak are known to be very dirty surf spots. This is due to a river that feeds right into the bay and the spot I was surfing. Many of the surfers I met said that people regularly fall ill because of sewage that is dumped into the water from substandard treatment facilities. The discharge of sewage into Irish waters seems to be a very common occurrence that needs to be dealt with immediately.

Panoramic view of “The Peak” and the promenade of Bundoran.

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