Seamus

Seamus grew up beneath the shadow of Queen Maeve's grave on Knocknarea in Strandhill, County Sligo. Seamus completed a degree in the Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials in Trinity College Dublin in 2006 and spent three years studying sound engineering, performing arts and Irish traditional music and folkore in County Leitrim. Afterwards, Seamus became a professional surf instructor based in Strandhill and set up Sligo Surf Experience in February 2018.

Seamus began bodyboarding at ten years of age at Strandhill Beach, which had a thriving surf scene in the late nineties. Seamus initially wanted to learn to bodyboard after watching videos of Hawaiian bodyboarder Mike Stewart. At age thirteen, he joined the County Sligo Surf Club and began competing in his first bodyboard events. Seamus was selected for the Irish surf team squad and recieved his first cap for his country competing in the Ireland-Africa surf challenge in County Waterford.

Seamus was selected for the Irish team to attend the 2000 European junior surfing championship in Jersey, Channel Islands, UK where he got his first taste for international competition competing in the U16 bodyboard division and also gained the nickname 'Shambles' from his team mates for leaving his brand new bodyboard on a bus.

Seamus competed in the Irish national championships and went for summer training to southwest France with the Irish junior team. He recieved his second international cap at the 2002 Eurosurf in Mimizan, France.

Seamus began competing at a senior level at 18 years old and, with support from Trinity College Dublin, attended the Eurosurf in Spain in 2003 and Portugal in 2005. Seamus also traveled with the Irish team to the World Surfing Championships in Ecuador in 2004 where he was the event's highest placing Irish athlete.

After achieving his dream of competing for Ireland at the world championships, Seamus focused on pushing himself in waves of consquence on Ireland's west coast. Seamus along with his friends, Shane Meehan, Andrew Kilfeather, Tom and Fintan Gillespie, Mickey Smith, Fergal Smith and Tom Lowe, were at the forefront of a dramatic period of evolution in Irish surfing which saw the discovery of a number of world class waves and a radical redefinition of what people thought was possible on Irish shores.

The world's surfing media began to take notice and within a few short years everyone agreed that Ireland was one of the best cold-water surfing destinations in the world.

It was certainly an exciting time to be an Irish bodyboarder. Using a jetski, Seamus began towing into big waves at newly discovered breaks like Aileens and Rileys. Seamus still competed regularly in competitions in Ireland and rejoined the Irish team for the Eurosurf in 2009 but his focus was now primarily on freesurfing. Seamus began to feature regularly in the UK bodyboarding magazine Threesixty.

In 2010, Seamus teamed up with Sligonian videographer Peter Martin to produce a short film entitle, Shambles: a day in the life, featuring a secret trip to a wave Seamus had discovered on the west of Ireland. The video was well recieved and recieved over 70,000 hits online. Seamus' follow up video with another top Sligo videographer Peter Clyne, North of Nowhere, placed second in the inaugral Shore Shots Irish Surf Film Festival.

In January 2011, Seamus became the first bodyboarder to tow in at Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo, a premier European big wave spot. Seamus was also the first bodyboarder to tow in to Prowlers, another big wave spot in Sligo.

In November 2011, Seamus was selected as the coach for the Irish Bodyboard team to attend the inaugrual World Bodyboarding Championships in Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. Seamus stayed on in the Canaries after the event to compete in his first professional bodyboard event, the Fronton Showdown.

As well as surfing in Ireland, Seamus enjoys exploring other surf cultures and has traveled to Indonesia, Morocco, UK, France, Spain, Portugal and El Salvador.

After moving back to his native Strandhill, Seamus qualified as a surf instructor and began teaching surfing locally. After the release of two successful online clips and featuring in top Australian bodyboarding magazines Riptide and Movement, Seamus came to the attention of Mike Stewart, the owner of Science bodyboads, a nine time world champion and Hawaiian bodyboarding legend. Getting to know his childhood hero and getting sponsored by Mike's companies, Science bodyboards, Viper Fins and Gyroll accessories was the culmination of an amazing fifteen year journey in bodyboarding.

Mike Stewart came to visit Seamus in Ireland in 2014 and Seamus had the pleasure of showing Mike and the UK Science team around. Seamus never would have guessed when he saw his first video of Mike Stewart bodyboarding in Hawaii in 1996 that he would get to meet Mike in Ireland 18 year later!

Seamus is now the distributor for Science Bodyboards in Ireland and is also supported by ecofashion label Rapanui and Billabong wetsuits.

In 2014, Seamus got the opportunity to run a surf school owned by his good friend and former coach on the Irish Surfing Team, Pascal Devine. Seamus also began to write articles on surfing which appeared on websites such as Magicseaweed, The Inertia and Surfer Today.

In March 2016, while surfing Rileys in County Clare, Seamus suffered a horrible wipeout and he fractured his right femur. Seamus was airlifted to Limerick hospital for emergency surgery. Seamus credits the fast thinking actions of his colleagues Fergal Smith, Clem Mc Inerny and Mickey Smith for evacuating him safely from a life-threatening situation.

Seamus was well aware of the risks posed by big wave surfing at locations like Riley, Aileens and Mullaghmore over the last ten years and he was relieved that the training and experience of himself and his comrades helped them to successfully manage a major incident. He also notes the bravery and dedication of the crew of the Irish Coastguard Rescue Helicopter service and the staff at Limerick hospital.

Luckily, with a combination of positive thinking, supportive friends and family, a healthy diet, yoga, physiotherapy and complementary medicine, Seamus was able to recover from this potentially career-ending injury and was back in the water six months later giving surf lesson, although still carrying a slight limp.

The real test came three months later when Seamus decided to return to his beloved Mullaghmore on a pumping twelve to fifteen foot day. The Mully crew were stoked to see their fallen comrade back in the water after a long absence and hooted him into the very next wave to come through. With two or three waves under his belt and no major wipeouts it was mission accomplished.

But the biggest surpise came in January 2017 when Seamus recieved an email from his mentor Mike Stewart to say he had been given an invitation to the prestigious professional bodyboard world tour event at the infamous Pipeline on the northshore of Oahu in Hawaii. Despite being out of the water for almost nine months, the recent session at Mullaghmore was a confidence booster and it was simply an offer he couldn't refuse.

Since his earliest exposure to the sport of bodyboarding, Seamus' dream was to go and surf Pipeline. To get to surf in Hawaii and compete on the world tour at the Mike Stewart Pipeline Invitational was even better. Seamus landed in Hawaii in mid-February with partner in crime Dan Skajarowski, another big wave bodyboarder from Cornwall who had relocated to County Clare.

In Hawaii, Seamus met the daughter of the bodyboard's inventor, Tom Morey, and subsequently became a co-founder of the Friends of Tom Morey campaign with Mike Stewart and Melinda Morey to help raise funds for Tom, now in his eighties, after he lost his sight due to glaucoma. To date, the Friends of Tom Morey campaign have raised over $100,000 for one of the legends of the surfing world to take care of medical bills and living expense for Tom in his final years.

Fresh from his Hawaiian Odessey, Seamus was fully fit for another summer of fun surf camps at home in Strandhill. Seamus had been involved with the Clean Coasts for a number of years and successfully introduced scores of young surfers to the idea of doing their own beach clean at the end of each week. In December 2017, Seamus was awarded the Clean Coasts Ocean Hero award for Individual of the Year in Dublin for these summer camp beach clean ups as well as other Clean Coasts activities.

Seamus decided it was time to set up his own business offering his unique brand of surfing and bodyboard classes. On 1 February 2018, Sligo Surf Experience was born. SSE is designed as the perfect vehicle for Seamus to share his knowledge gained from over twenty years in the ocean.