Atlantic’s Edge: A Year in Lahinch Doc of the Week

Atlantic’s Edge: A Year in Lahinch

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Ross Whitaker for Motive Television, this is a fascinating tale of life in the small west Clare town which is now firmly established as one of the top surfing destinations in the world. eir Sport 1, Tues-Thur, March 21st-23rd 21.00.

Showing on consecutive nights next week, Atlantic’s Edge: A Year in Lahinch is a three-part series which combines the epic with the intimate to paint a living portrait of a community as they battle the wet, windy and wild Atlantic conditions in pursuit of their dream – to surf. But this piece will appeal to an audience far beyond the surfing set as we bear witness to their lives both on and off the water. Ultimately, it is a tale of unending optimism, of passion for life and living, of trial and triumph that we can all relate to and be inspired by wherever we are.

Lahinch is one of the most westerly towns in Europe. Next stop New York – nothing but the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean lies between. It can be a desolate, lonely place in winter with many of the businesses along the seafront boarded-up against the weather just waiting for summer and the arrival of the holidaying hordes. Golf used to be the lifeblood of the town and, although it still provides a steady income for the locality, it has been superseded by surfing over the past decade or more as word spread of the endless supply of big waves breaking along the unspoiled coastline.

Chasing waves

What happened next was a steady influx of young people, surfing fanatics who came to ride Aileen’s and Reilly’s Wave and other famous swells and never left. They started surfing schools or obtained other work in the locality and slowly became part of the Lahinch community. They grew older, fell in love, had families and built homes for themselves. But their passion for the sea never left them and remains a focal point of their lives.

Director Whitaker (When Ali Came to Ireland, Saviours, Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story) spent an entire year with these people, arriving in the depths of winter in the middle of a tumultuous downpour. He immersed himself in the place and was accepted and indulged by a community who are more than content to live life on the edge, both geographically and economically. The result is a breathtaking treat of cinematic-scale land, sea and skyscapes that showcase the unspoilt natural beauty of Ireland’s west coast. It’s easy to see why surf enthusiasts came from all over the world and never went home again. We even get a cameo from Hawaiian surfing superstar Shane Dorian who is clearly impressed with the size of the waves on offer.

“I set out to make a different kind of surf film, one that went beyond the hype of some surf films to find the quiet truth of what it means to choose to be a surfer, how it impacts your entire life in myriad different ways,” Whitaker explains. “Living at the edge of the Atlantic in Ireland’s wild west is hard – rain is heavy, winds are strong and waves are monstrous. But for the right person it’s a cold paradise living along that incredible coastline.”

The result is both humorous and thought-provoking at the same time, a beautiful and inspiring tale well told.

There are plenty of great documentaries to watch out for on the eir Sport pack every week. From football to golf, GAA, rugby, athletics and beyond, we’ve got something for everyone. Watch out next week for another fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the sporting world or go to for more sports news and stories or to find out more about how we're setting sport free.

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