When you go to Ireland, go first to the west coast to see why these fair-skinned people dress in full-length wet suits to surf an an ocean that’s always in winter.

Look for the shock of hair and white faces poking out of the suit; that’s Irish. Caps and hats are for foreigners, for the rest of the European Union.

The waves are small, fast, hard … and relentless. To find a sweet swell, with some opportunity for adventure, an Irishman’s got to paddle out a few hundred yards. You know, for it to be interesting.

The joy isn’t riding a long wave, or a tall one. It’s riding so many of them. Again and again. Until it’s dark. The joy is being in the water because it fells grand. No one to say can’t, no one to say no.

In Irish Summer, it doesn’t get dark until 11 at night. It doesn’t get warm, either. Water temperature is about 50 degrees F, but the air temperature is every bit of 55.

In a country that grows green grass, rain, cows and sheep, the Irish are always the small sister at the table in in EE talks. The Irish understand limited resources. They also appreciate bounty when they see it. In a fishing ocean split into quarters for the Spanish by the European Union, a frigid ocean wave is a gift from God that can only be taken with both feet. 

Tom Sakell

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