Easkey Britton, born in 1986 in Rossnowlagh, has been surfing the waves off Ireland’s coast since she was five and she is now the Emerald Isle’s top female wave rider.
A lifelong passion
The Britton surfing saga began way back in the ’60’s when Easkey’s grandmother brought back two of the famous Malibu boards from her trip to California to hang it as a novelty in her hotel in County Donegal. Her sons were immediately taken by the boards, jumped on them in the water and taught themselves to surf!
As a child, Easkey loved to follow in each of her dad’s footsteps – so she took to the water early. One morning, she was watching as he tackled Aill na Searrach, the legendary Irish wave at the base of the massive Cliffs of Moher. The wave, also called Aileens, can swell more than 11 meters or 35 feet. For little Easkey, this was the beginning of a lifelong passion. By the mid-2000s, Easkey was making her own waves in the world of competitive surfing. The sixteen year old was the first Irish surfer to ride Tahiti’s perilous Teahapoo wave, which swells up to 4 meters or 13 feet, in the South Pacific.
“Our big waves have become huge!”
At the age of 21, Easkey finally dared take on Moher’s Aill na Searrach, which she vividly remembered her father riding. One of the trickiest things about Aileens is the fact that it only reaches huge size and speed during certain weather conditions, and it is quite hard to reach. Some surfers use special wetbikes to tow themselves out to the wave before it gets too much momentum. Easkey recalls: “It was an amazing feeling, not like any I’ve experienced before. It was scary. It always is just before you catch a big wave. Everyone has their own way of dealing with that fear. A huge adrenaline rush takes over. Once you get that first wave under your belt, you feel like you’re on fire and can do anything. I’ve got my taste for the big waves now — Aill na Searrach was just the teaser. I’m going to concentrate on them for the foreseeable future. I’ve traveled quite a bit, but I’ve realized more and more that there are huge opportunities for surfing along the Irish coastline. Our big waves have become huge on the international surfing scene.”
… one of the things that make the Cliffs of Moher special
In 2008, Easkey earned her fourth consecutive Irish National Surfing Championship, and one year later she became the British Pro-Tour Champion.
Easkey Britton was in the 2008 cult movie “waveriders,” which focuses on the Irish surfing scene and history, not Californian or Hawaiian surfing, as it follows pro riders including Kelly Slater and Richard Fitzgerald. Many moviegoers were surely surprised to learn that surfing has been popular in Ireland since the early 20th Century. The movie’s makers spent several years to capture the wind-whipped “cold paradise,” as Ireland is called by enthusiastic surfers. The breathtaking shots capture the adrenaline-pumping energy of the waves and their riders, as well as the surfers’ infectiously positive spirit and boundless energy.
The spectacular Aill na Searrach wave is just one of the things that make the Cliffs of Moher special, according to Easkey, who is casting her vote for her homeland’s Official Finalist!