Author Archives: Feargus Callagy

A weekend in Sligo.

Gin clear

Gin clear

Well what a blast. Visibility in Mullaghmore has been exceptional of late. 8-10m and I’d guess 12 at one point as well. Rob was down and hit 18m CW on his dives with more in the tank I think and 3.22 static. The sun shone, big smiles, everybody’s happy. Plenty of life about and while exploring another area Mark and myself dived into a huge area for lobsters. It’s always good to go exploring.

 

Saturday night saw my mind blown at the opening of Magnetism. Magnetism is the first in a long list of developments at Hazelwood house.  It’s based only 10 minutes from Sligo town and on the shores of Lough Gill. The party was in full swing and these guys know how to throw one.  I was thrilled to hear they will be opening a distillery there soon as well. Sligo whiskey, yes please.

The installations are exceptional. Don’t like arty stuff? You will like these as the sense of scale and space are just brilliant. Some of it is just too cool for school. Get out to see it while you can.

magnetism vhs cascade

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re off to Kerry next weekend with Seasynergy on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th. You can book direct with me or via Lucy seasynergy@gmail.com 0) 877850929

Summer is looking up guys. Get in the Ocean and have a great one.

Sustaining the stoke 4000 years ago.

cooking on the beachSo a short while back I was at the clean coasts gig supported by some great local people and local businesses. There were various talks on where the groups had collected tonnes of rubbish. Hopefully we will start to providing an underwater part of this in the future. There were also some talks on the archeology in the area. Now I had heard about this fulacht fiadh back in September but I have to admit its significance at the time was lost on me. I am not aware if the exact date has been calculated yet but 3-4000 years seems to be agreed upon. The fulacht fiadh was used for cooking or bathing by putting hot stones into it, but it’s really unusual to have one on a beach.

Now I like tripping in me van. So do some friends of mine and without doubt some of the best experiences we have had as a group have been to rock up and circle the wagons at a beach spot, Post surf, dive or swim the bbq gets fired up, we eat and imbibe a few drinks. Good friends, good food and maybe a spectacular sunset over the Great Atlantic. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat. You retire to bed tired from the Ocean but stoked to be alive and to be so blessed. Given the recent good spell of weather, history is just repeating itself.

It’s a real mind bender to think our ancestors were doing much the same gig 4000 years ago. Won’t be long before they unearth a bronze age surfboard or speargun. No doubt a lot has changed in 4000 years but some things stay the same.

One thing that has changed is the debris some of us leave behind. I do think we need a cultural shift on this. The take three initiative, where anytime you are walking on the beach you pick up three pieces of litter is a great idea. On the walk on the beach yesterday evening as the sun was nearly setting I was mentally recording what bits I would pick up on the return leg. There were empty bins in the car park so I didn’t even have to put them in the van and bring home. No the beach wasn’t spotless when I was finished but some people noticed it. Hopefully the more of us do it, the more people will be inclined to do it until we reach a tipping point and it becomes the norm,

It starts with you and me.

Clean Coasts.

Homo Delphinus

 Dusty 17.06.2013 098

Homo delphinus will be a man (or woman) who has understood that he is not separate from nature, nor from the ocean which he must respect and love like their own mother, nor from the universe in which he is reflected like a microcosm reflects the macrocosm.

 

 

He will will know that from the atom to the galaxy, from the microbe to the blue whale, nothing is inferior or superior, everything is connected. He will know that there are no walls that separate the body and the psyche, or isolate man from the infinite, immeasurable and non- temporal universe.

Jacques Mayol.

Jacques Birthday

jacques

 

 

Today amongst other things would have been Jacque Mayols birthday had he been around to celebrate it. Few others have had such an impact on any activity and become an icon of it. 1927-2001.

To be Free

as wild animals are.

To dive naked

as a dolphin.

Swift, silent, serene

into the depths of the sea.

To fly high up into the

infinite blue of the sky,

and glide quietly

over man’s shabby world

to blend in with the air

or melt into the water

becoming one with nature

and rediscovering the “Self”..

This is my motto!

Jaques Mayol.

Nice tribute video here.

 

Big smiles for 2015

Janey, I haven’t posted anything here in awhile.

So the Christmas is over and the new year is here. Last Saturday saw me with a big silly grin on my face as I drove away from the Ocean. It wasn’t that I had just spent the last few hours in it. It wasn’t that I was still toasty warm as I had a new suit and the heating left on in the van for changing. Nor was it that I had my super Stanley ultra flask with a piping hot brew ready for drinking.

The item that really brought a smile to my face was the crowd. This in itself is unusual in the surfing fraternity. I was finished though remember. I was really just astounded by the sheer volume of people making use of the playground that is our Ocean. Some were on boards others were heading out on kayaks, some were walking. Yes the sun was shining, yes the place was probably the only spot with half decent surf for a long while but still to see a busy car park in early January is a great thing to my mind.

For those of us who dislike crowds it just means we have to get off our asses and explore a bit more, it’s not like there is a shortage of coastline, dive spots, surf spots or swim spots.

Hopefully this will continue. People protect what they value and use in their lives. The more people that believe in the beauty of our Oceans and seas the better.

Hoping you all have a great 2015.

Feeling blessed to be able to call this place home.

 

Heart to heart,

picture of a heartThe heart is a pretty amazing organ. You only get one but if you’re lucky maybe you get to share it today and every other day with someone else.

As freedivers you gradually learn to control it better, mainly by slowing it down. Relaxing, breathing, calming. You can also train it to react to a form of autogenic training. The heart just pumps away, second after second. The way it evolved from when you were a foetus in your mothers womb is pretty amazing. Starting with two cavities like a fish, it further divides to three cavities like an amphibian as if preparing us for a life both above and below the water and finally to four cavities and our mammals heart. The slowdown of the heart (bradycardia) is a well documented dive reflex when we are immersed in water. This happens to everyone, even people who hate water and panic, eventually their heart rate will fall too.

A freediver simply trains to work this reflex. It makes you a “better” freediver. More relaxed and at home in and under the water. It also makes for countless hours of fun at medicals. At the end of the day it still needs care. Regular exercise gets it going faster, relaxation and meditation gets it going slower. Some people will say you only have so many beats in it anyway so whats the point? Like anything if looked after, it will look after you.

Stressing the heart through exercise is a good thing. Stressing it through stress is a bad thing. Seems pretty simple to say, sometimes harder to do in reality. If you have never worn a  heart rate monitor during exercise please try it. If you freedive, try it during a breathhold. It’s amazing to see what happens. You can listen to mine here. This was part of the Doc on ! we were part of which is here.  We could have gone lower but as you hear the Doc’s machine could have been damaged. Was really cool afterwards when he showed me the flatline too. Anyone’s  heart will do this with the right training and time. Nothing special about mine, except of course to me. Negative stress raises the heart rate and keeps it raised in our flight or fight response throughout the day. That stuff causes heart disease. Raising it far higher for brief periods during exercise helps prevent heart disease.

An amazing organ, an amazing muscle. It can catch you out of course. Sometimes when you least expect it. Walking down the street your eye might just connect with that someone special and your heart stops, even if only for a moment. Don’t worry it will start again, hopefully.

Happy Valentines Day.

Sligo is the Adventure capital!!

Jelly

 

 

 

What a diverse bunch of heads we have in Sligo. OK while I appreciate I am going to be biased as I was born and reared here the facts speak for themselves.

Last night the newly organised and re-energised Sligo Adventure Hub kicked off with a social to lay out their plans. The committee deserves great praise and a great crowd landed in to Fureys pub. But my oh my what a diverse bunch of people.

Barry Mottershead shared his story of how born in South Africa and though he travelled the world he came back to Sligo. He has done countless interviews on charging the monster that is Mullaghmores big wave but he hasn’t just stayed here for that. It’s the combination. Barry will be launching his new Kayak tour business shortly.

Our next speaker was Blaihthin Sweeney from the Rennafix group. In essence the group helps people out that are dealing with mental health issues by helping them enroll on different outdoor/adventurous pursuits. Trying to get a little natural endorphins going  to help with mental health.

So between the epic mountains we have here and the mighty Atlantic Ocean it’s difficult to see yourself anywhere else. The range of activities is growing, we have had surfing for I don’t know how long but long anyway and now Stand up paddleboarding and kayaking are coming in to their own. Was also very excited to hear we should have some coastering starting in Sligo this summer to.

The big, big news is we also have our own home grown Aida instructor for freediving. Yes he is in Sligo too. So probably the ultimate underwater adventure sport now has two instructors in Sligo. This is a great thing and badly needed to grow the sport. I studied Aida up to a three star before moving to AA but like anything the agency itself is less important than the instructor . Our Aida instructor is none other than legendary waterman and all round good guy William Britton. William along with Warner run N.W adventure tours who do hiking and moutain-biking etc all along our spectacular hills and mountain tops.  He surfs like a pro as well. Will keep everyone posted on his plans, yes this is competition for me I suppose but  this is great for freediving in Ireland which is what it’s all about.

I could wax lyrical about the beauty we are lucky enough to share here but really the best way to see it is see with your own eyes. Yeats did his best to describe it but living it is different. Being in the scenery rather than just looking at it. Even better if you experience it while taking part in an activity. One of the things I dearly love about my beloved home county is this. As I sit typing this drivel I am just outside Sligo town. 10 minutes takes me to Strandhill for a surf. 10 minutes takes me to the foot of Cnoc na Rea mountain and a short while later I can be taking in majestic views of my Atlantic. 20 minutes brings me to Mullaghmore where some of the best diving is via the shore so no need to launch a boat. Along the way you will pass some of the oldest meagalthic structures in Europe and jaw dropping scenery. That’s before you start whatever you are about to start.

Make adventurous plans for Sligo this summer. You won’t be disappointed.

Don’t be a twat!

coast guardSo another winter storm is about to hit our shores. It’s no wonder our coast is so rugged and craggy when it’s very outline is shaped by the perpetual power of  Great Atlantic Ocean.

 

 

These are the times you are happy to be tucked up warm and snug with a hot cuppa tea or even better a hot whiskey while the wind shrieks, howls and does its utmost to split the walls from round you.

These are the times when you thank God you are not on a trawler risking life and limb along with your crew for someones fish fingers. Think of the frightened souls all alone in the cold dank darkness, their vessel pitching and tossing like  the proverbial cork in the Ocean which is exactly what it is. Waiting and praying against the freak wave, praying they can stay and ride it out, praying no water breaches the engine and causes them to spin broadside to the very crests they were riding over just moments ago.

Now imagine our brave rescue services, the Coast Guard and the RNLI all on high alert over this weekend. Waiting in the comms room and hoping and praying they don’t hear the dreaded “mayday mayday mayday” cut through any noise and make everyone stand still for a moment. Now think and admire the bravery of these men and women as they don their survival suits and pilot their boats or helicopters. To set out and go try and find these souls at sea and bring them home to their anxious panicked families and friends.  Imagine the helicopter pilot as he juggles the risks of putting his crew in more danger or make the heartbreaking decision to return to base. Imagine the RNLI folk as their pagers beep and they rush madly to get to the station, put all their training into practice and put to sea when everyone else is hunkering down. Picture their bravery, their courage, their love of human life as they risk all to save another human being in trouble.

Now imagine the shout they got is to someone who was walking on a pier when they knew they shouldn’t be in this weather. Imagine they are going out to try and rescue someone who got too close to the cliff edge because they wanted to see the Oceans fury. They will respond of course, of course they will that’s their way and maybe in the middle of that shout the “mayday” comes in from out in the Atlantic, someone who couldn’t get back to shore and has been forced to ride it out. A fishing vessel that provided your dinner last week.  Someone who urgently needs an airlift to another hospital to save their life. Don’t have them out on a call that could have been avoided. I love looking at the Ocean in all its forms, and it’s especially impressive in times like these. Use some common sense. Stay well clear and don’t be a twat. These guys will have enough to do. Stay safe.

The Kingdom by the Sea,

spear weekend 06.08.2011 048is one of Paul Theroux “travel” books. I loved it and recommend that along with The Happy Isles of Oceania and The Pillars of Hercules. I captioned travel because he doesn’t do travel books in the normal sense. Focusing instead on the people he meets. The situations he finds himself in and the social-geographical climate he encounters. There’s no line about what particular cathedral or castle/landmark to visit as far as I can remember.

In kingdom by the sea, one aspect that he had trouble getting his head around was this fascination of people who drive to the seaside and then stay in their cars watching the sea. I had never thought it odd but in retrospect I suppose it is unusual. Of course many get out and walk along the promenade or the beach. But others simply sit and stare. Essentially Theroux’s hypothesis is they/we are staring at infinity and the wonder beyond.

Culture has moved on, now we no longer sit and stare. (as much) When the climber reaches the top of the cliff, he is no longer there just to view the awe inspiring landscape but legs akimbo, launches himself off the edge. The French of course turned it into art. When the diver meets the Ocean or the Sea he no longer stares but dives in and down. Onwards goes the exploration. The blue water sailor only happy when he has sea room and no sight of land, the silence and mystery of the worlds Oceans enveloping him. Only now is he free.

Free to what? Free of gravity, free of the terrestrial earth, free of land, free of judgement, stress or worry. Free to be human or be more than human. Free to glimpse magic of an intensity not yet known, free to experience the very fabric of life itself.

It’s nearly the end of the first month of 2014. The time when most new years resolutions fail or have failed. But now more than ever, it’s time to jump in.

 

Dancing in the moonlight

OK I wasn’t actually dancing but I was in the moonlight. It was mental bright and my feet were kind of drawn toMoonlight 011 the beach as midnight approached. Tide was out and only a small gentle pulse of a wave trickled on to shore. The air was still and cold, I think I could have shouted across to Donegal or Mayo and the sound would have carried.  It was a kind of stillness, light and eeriness that Moonlight 023Moonlight 040lets your imagination run riot without  use of any “recreational substances”. The Ocean was so calm, still, mirror like, lake like even dream like. The depths of it hiding the torrents, rage and fury it had unleashed on this same coast just a week earlier.

If the metal man was ever going to jump down off his perch and waded ashore tonight would have been the night. As it was his lantern was twinkling away, always a constant light in this watery realm, ever changing with the tide. Tripod and camera set, it wasn’t long before the hands were getting numb. But if the body wanted to go back to warmth, the mind and spirit wanted to stay and bask in the moonlight, in the atmosphere, in this moment in time that was surely fleeting. And it was.

After an hour or more and happy with some of the pictures, (you need to click and enlarge to do them any justice) I drove off thinking the other side of the bay might hold more wonders. Even as I left Dead mans point I could feel or sense the light changing. On the far side of Sligo town, it was dramatically different. It was like any other moon lit night. Nice sure , but the magic was gone. The thrill of the unknown, of the other world tinged with both fear and wonder was gone. Replaced by normality again.

Lesson learned, no matter how numb the fingers go, stay with the magic. It doesn’t last long.