Western Australia’s Wayne Murphy has been living in Ireland for the past 14 years where he has found his niche as a soul surfer. Despite the cold and challenging conditions Murphy, 56, is chasing every swell that comes his way. Born in Ireland to Irish parents, he lived there as a child for a year until his Irish parents could take no more of the cold and migrated permanently to Australia where they settled on Rottnest Island, off Perth, to manage the local pub. After learning to surf the reefs there, Murphy traveled around Australia for 20 years surfing his brains out while working as a judge and commentator at numerous pro-am and ASP events. However the green and moisture-laden land of his ancestors was always in the back of his mind, calling him home. Murphy says relocating to Ireland in 2000 to live the second half of his life was the best move he ever made. From the waves he has scored (see gallery above) just over last few weeks pictured here, you can see why.
“That fierce southern sun with its baking heat would have killed me there if I stayed living in West Oz or Cactus any longer,” he explains. “Irish weather is much kinder to my skin than the summer heatwaves you have to put up with in Australia. I much prefer living in a colder climate with a fire to warm you up, rather than having to hide away in artificial air conditioning to escape the heat.”
But Murphy says to forget about all thoughts of summer if you are ever thinking about visiting Ireland. He says you have never really experienced ‘weather’ until you have done some winter time in Ireland.
“The intensity and the sound of the wind is incredible, as are the many different types of rain in all its guises, from the finest mists like a thousand fairies gently kissing your face at once, to raging storms outside with the most fierce winds that spray your piss back all over your trousers even if you are pointing downwind to urinate,” he says.
“And as for the constant damp and moisture, well yes, it’s all part and parcel of daily life here which is why the Romans named Ireland as Hibernia ‘The Land of Winter’ and never bothered leaving the relative comfort of their far outposts in Great Britain to come across here. It’s because of all the rain that Ireland is so green. In fact, in the native Irish tongue, there are more than 40 different ways to describe the different rains here, down to the detail of how much of a splash a rain drop makes when it impacts onto a puddle. You gotta love the Irish sense of keen observation and humour.”
Ever the realist, but always the dreamer, Murphy is the first to acknowledge that, even after 45 years of surfing, he is still living and pursuing a selfish lifestyle. But he has the luck of the Irish with him because living and surfing in the land of his ancestors is a joyful experience every day, as he says surfing should be.
“It’s very much like surfing back in West Oz in the 1970s when I was a wide-eyed grom with not too many surfers around and plenty of surfing spots to hunt and choose from,” he explains.
“Plus the people here are great craic, the best friends I have ever had. It’s a wee bit cooler of course, but wetsuits these days are a lot better than they used to be. As the actor Jeremey Irons who lives in Ireland says – ‘ There is no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate dress’.
To keep his Irish dream afloat Murphy teaches the odd surfing lesson as well as writing a few stories here and there while editing Ireland’s only surfing magazine Tonnta. He has a degree in Irish Heritage Studies and is currently writing a tell-all biography on the extraordinary surfing life of Ian ‘Kanga’ Cairns, a fellow West Aussie who Murphy says has lived a most remarkable life.
“Ian is one of my all-time surfing heroes. He is a truly unique individual, a real visionary who has had such a huge influence on the direction of professional surfing. To be able to help Ian tell his amazing life story, while living my own surfing dream as a writer in Ireland and watching my daughter grow up here…well…put it this way, I couldn’t be any happier.”