Wild ireland: ribs, craft beers and surfing

Wednesday morning we were up early again, our surf lesson beginning at half eight, we grabbed a wetsuit and headed into the changing rooms along with two English girls who were boarded in one of the dorms. The five minutes to the beach were stylishing taken in 4x4s, as we raced through Bundoran. Energy was high and we waddled down from the cliff, surfboard laden in pairs in a Happy Feet-esque shuffle. Gathering in a circle we learnt the golden rules to make a pop up in three simple steps, then onto the warm up excercise of Do-What-I-Say-But-Say-The-Opposite, chaos ensued as the interlocked group divided and neighbours were jumping left into another jumping right.

The big challenge was still ahead as Grainne and Sean led us to the waterfront to start catching waves. There is nothing better the soaking in the Atlantic first thing in the morning, it was so spa like some of us even took the time to sunbathe. Most of the first timers flew through the water and were standing up in no time, I however chose to elegantly lay on my board, feet flailing, looking downright cool as wave after wave my chicken arms failed to move in time to pop up. My best friend from home, surf instructor extraordinaire and natural blonde, would have found my floundering attempts an insult after the hours she’d spent teaching me past summers. But it was such a laugh, and as hordes of other groups began to invade the beach we retreated, beaming and planning our trip to the TurfNSurf guys in Bundoran.

Naptime ensued, while the others headed to the beach with minimal additional sunburn. Bundoran had some of the best food of the tour, which you must ensure not to miss. At lunchtime I followed their recommendation; up the main street to Waves a surfer cafe with a great selection of toasties, wraps etc. but luckily I opted for the baked potato which was served on a massive plate with salad and heaps of the extras you wanted, so I had bacon and chicken enough to feed five. It was washed down by a litre of fresh smoothie, featuring several berries I’d never heard of and some raspberries. Everything was delicious and for a tenner it satisfied my post-surf cravings. Down the hill to explore the beach, which is absolutely beautiful with several areas to swim in and not overcrowded despite the heat. It amazed me how it suited all kinds of holidaymakers, there was a shallow infinity pool constructed for kids, there were couples taking romantic walks, and dozens of messers like the tour family lounging around or going to the amusement rides. On a sunny day like today there was absolutely nothing any Spanish resort could have to beat it.

That evening we bussed to Ballyshannon for the Donegal Co. Brewery tour. Craft beers are very in vogue these days and this particular brewery is one of only a handful of Irish to be bar-adjacent. As we sampled raw hops, unfiltered beer and examined massive power tanks it was incredible to think it all fitted into two rooms at the end of a beer garden. After compulsory photos, we headed back into the pub where it was time to really try the beverage. Some of the girls opted for the Sea Sessions Pale Ale a limited edition flavour, whilst others like myself went for the Wild Atlantic Amber which was more fruity and delicious.

Having been too excited for the game the night before, some of us had missed getting food in Maddens The Bridge, which is just down from TurfNSurf. Never will I make that mistake again, for those of you ever in Bundoran or on the Wild Tour make sure to get there your first night and keep going back to make it through the whole menu. I got the starter ribs made into a main meal, and as everyone’s food began to come out nobody was left disappointed. My ribs fell immediately off the bone, so tender you could use a knife and fork, the chips perfectly done and all in a massive basket in the middle of the table. We followed the meal with a round of drinks, no better way to recap on such a wonderful day.

Find out more about the Wild Ireland tour here.