Ok so I’m back. I had an incredible time in Ireland and Denmark. While both countries were amazing, both were quite different in many ways. The people, art, music, architecture, food, beer, booze, and culture were mind blowing in both countries. You know what we focus on here though so let’s get to it. The skating was a trip to say the least. The Grindline Copenhagen post will be up later, but for now let’s talk about Ireland…
I was in Ireland for a wedding. Irish weddings do live up to the hype by the way. Prior to heading over there I searched for some skateparks in and around the town of Westport, and came up with very little. My hopes weren’t high since this is a rough time of year to be heading to the emerald isle. Little did I know that there was a brand new park being built in this small town, and that we would have crazy good weather during our 5 days there. I skated over to the park and have never come across rougher roads in my life. Skating street is almost impossible. I had heard about the park the night before at the pub, and that every kid in town had the itch. Landscaping around the park wasn’t finished, and there was a ton of dirt and gravel in certain areas, but after a little shirt sweeping everyone was ready to shred.
Clearly there wasn’t much to this park as far as terrain. Some boxes, a step up, a mini clamshell quarter, some hubbas, rails, etc. It definitely wasn’t designed by Grindline, but lots of fun none the less. The attitude there was like no other place I had been in my life. Throughout Westport the people were never afraid to share a high five, a pint, and a bullshit session (my kind of people). The kids were just as hyped on life, and just as full of fire. Immediately I was swarmed at the park. The rats over there are what real skating is all about. Some of the questions were the same…do you know any pros? What tricks can you do? What kind of board is that? All the usual shit. There were park heroes, and tales of out of town kids coming in and destroying the place etc.
Not one of these kids were afraid to ask questions, and very few were trying to be too cool. They had none of the tight jeans or ironic hipster bullshit that seems to infest many of the kids over here. They were just psyched to skate. These kids thought I was the shred (let me clarify that I absolutely am not the shred) and wanted to follow me to each corner of the park. When I slammed you would have thought the world stopped. “Are ye ok?” They wanted to learn and progress like all other kids, and after warming up were ready to haul ass and push each other to get better. Heelflips were “class” (I disagree), Five0’s were “brilliant” (totally agree), and Manuals were “legendary.”
As a side note I would like to point out that I keep saying “kids”. There’s a reason for this. The only people over age 14 were parents (or uncles) there to watch. In fact word traveled around town pretty quick that the big old yank was skating the park. I had parents in pubs approaching me and saying how blown away their kids were by the old guy, and they wanted to know how a man my age (33) was still out there risking life and limb. I always have to deal with the whole you still ride a skateboard? question over here also, but there it was unheard of. In Salt Lake I run into lots of guys my age and older at the park or in the streets. Some of us are there with our kids, and some are there just to rip. In California it’s even more prevalent.
The local rippers in Westport Ireland County Mayo (Up Mayo) are one of those reasons I still risk “life and limb” skating. I’m inspired by people with little pretense, lots of heart, and a deep rooted desire to have fun. The youth in that town get it. Some skate fast, some are trying to be tech gnar, and some are just stoked to be pushing around (I tried to explain how important style was too, but not sure how well it came across). The bottom line is this. In a world where the skate youth care more about how they look, who did what trick at what spot, and which “kook” they should rip on, these kids remain isolated from that. It’s just about fun. I hope it stays that way. My guess is that in 20 years or so a few of these kids… maybe Killian (his Dad’s a cop and said it was fine they skate there even during construction) or my friend Oisin (whose dad Frankie owns the best restaurant in town An Port Mor) will be there with their own kids, in an even bigger park, having just as much fun. They better be since I plan to show up with my grandkids and rip that place again. Huge thanks to the Kelly family and everyone in the town of Westport for the trip of a lifetime.