Surf, sounds and Michael D by the sea
The wind picked up as the President fulfilled a campaign promise and returned to join revellers at Bundoran’s Sea Sessions festival, a weekend of extreme sports and joyous sounds
IT’S JUST after midday on Saturday at the Sea Sessions in Bundoran and a handful of revellers are purging their hangovers by surfing the furious Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the conditions that make this town a Mecca for surfing are, for the moment at least, rendering it unsuitable for doing just about anything else.
There’s a gale blowing up from the sea and, at the ticket office, a dreadlocked member of staff has mounted the portacabin roof in a desperate attempt to reaffix a torn-away sign. Oh dear. We could have a Rod Hull situation on our hands here.
Now in its fifth year, the Sea Sessions festival combines live music, surfing and beach sports. Unfortunately, due to the inclement weather, Saturday’s entire programme of (non-musical) activities has had to be cancelled.
Alas then, none of the high-octane sports – tag rugby, Olympic handball, BMX stunt biking, motocross et al – will now be going ahead. Down at the beach, only a hardy band of beach volleyball players have ventured on to the sand. The teams are drawn from all over Ireland but the players, for the most part, are natives of continental and eastern Europe.
There is a rather farcical nature to the proceedings. Experienced players are seeing their services fall as much as a metre short of the net. “Only in Ireland,” laughs American Megan Burgdorf, “is beach volleyball an extreme sport.” Are the players worried about getting blown into the sea? “Not at all,” she replies. “We have stones in our pockets!”
Joining me on the sidelines, a young man, who may or may not have been up all night, is offered a massage by a pack of roving masseuses. He ponders his response. “Is this a charitable service?” he asks. It isn’t.
Where are the rest of the previous night’s punters hiding out, I wonder? Seeking respite from the wind, I make for the Kitchen Bake Cafe, a converted Methodist church on the town’s main street. It’s 1.30pm and a queue of older ladies has formed outside. “It’s like trying to get into a nightclub,” one of them chuckles.
I duck into the Kicking Donkey pub across the road. The place is heaving. There are lots of standard-issue fluorescent festival wellies and preternaturally bronzed female thighs. But there are also plenty of beach bums and Patagonia-clad outdoorsy types too.