He’s more elusive than an Indian point break, and his memory’s leakier than an oversized wetsuit . . . but he’s got a giant pair of swingers, and he never forgets to bring them with him!
“He’s only a short little dude,” says Barry Mottershead of Conor Maguire, the Irishman some ten years his junior whom for several winters he’s been towing into waves that are anything but short and little. “But he’s hard as nails. I’ve seen him get kickings out there that you don’t think he’s gonna come up from, and he’ll come up shouting to go on the next one — deeper, bigger. You can’t act that.”
And you can’t help but salute that kind of unflappable fighting spirit. Over the course of a lengthy and wide-ranging back-and-forth, punctuated by long periods of radio silence, we sounded the 22-year old from Bundoran out on scoring (and not scoring) epic waves in India, punching himself in the face with a GoPro at Mully, forgetting his own name, Gabriel Medina, Ireland’s chances at Euro 2016, and plenty else besides.
Photo top: Finn Mullen
On paddling Mullaghmore
“I don’t think we’ve seen the upper limit in paddling Mullaghmore yet. Lowey and Ferg have really set the pace for paddling big shit out there but I think a lot more is possible. I reckon it’s possible to paddle into a twenty footer and make it the whole way, as long as you have the right equipment. Huge balls being some of that equipment.
“I feel like we haven’t yet found the perfect board to paddle into Mully with. It isn’t like any other big wave spot in the world — most places if you have a huge board, you’ll be able to make it the whole way on a huge wave, but at Mullaghmore you might only just make the drop. It’s such a long wave with a huge wall that you have a long distance to travel and on top of that it’s a mental barrel, as thick as Teahupoo, with scary steps and boils trying to kill you on your way through. Because the barrel is so big and thick it sucks so much water off the reef, and when you’re on a big board it’s really hard to hold your line. It would be amazing if someone could make a board that could paddle like a 10’0 but in 6’0 form.”
On staying sane in summer
“We had one fun tow day at the start of June and a 10-12ft paddle day at the end of August. It wasn’t anything epic but it was nice to surf Mullaghmore in a 3/2. It was strange being warm out there because usually it’s stormy and absolutely freezing. During the summer months I normally just try to relax as much as I can, as a winter in Ireland becomes really tiring. The constant cold takes it out of you. I’ll try to get out of my hometown for summer and travel to a place I’ve never visited — preferably somewhere the sun isn’t masked by thick cloud cover! This year I went to India with my good friends Tom Gillespie (crazy booger) and James Skerritt (creative motherfucker) in search of an elusive right hand point somewhere far off the coast.”