Between Land and Sea: Irish surf film documenting a year in the life of Lahinch, Co. Clare

Director Ross Whitaker appeared at the Irish Film Institute (IFI) this week to discuss his latest film, Between Land and Sea.


The film documents a year in the life of the Co. Clare seaside town, Lahinch and follows the lives of residents, who all bear a connection to the coastline, be that through surfing, swimming or business. Capturing the overwhelming force of the Atlantic Ocean, the documentary showcases the unique waves the Clare coast offers to the international surfing community from the Aileen’s wave  under the Cliffs of Moher to the Riley’s wave found near Doonbeg.

Lahinch - photo credit Paolo C. (flikr)
Lahinch – photo credit Paolo C. (flikr)

Ross Whitaker travelled to the town regularly over the course of a year, integrating with the local and surfing communities. He was keen to capture more than a traditional surfing film, telling the audience: “I wanted to go beyond just the surfing and try and get more into the parts of people’s lives that I hadn’t seen in surf films.”

One notable subject of the film is Fergal Smith, one of Ireland’s only internationally renowned surfers. In an effort to reduce his carbon footprint, Fergal has stopped flying across the world, in pursuit of waves and sponsorship deals. He has settled in Co. Clare. Fergal has founded a local community garden and was a Green Party candidate in the 2016 election.

Surfer at Lahinch, Co. Clare - photo credit Mark Waters (flikr)
Surfer at Lahinch, Co. Clare – photo credit Mark Waters (flikr)

Surf legend, Shane Dorian makes a cameo in the film, having travelled to Ireland to ride the famous Irish waves. Share Dorian was one of the top ten surfers in the world prior to his retirement from the world championships. He later described his experience to Stab Magazine: “The power is amazing, just really raw deep water swells hitting shallow ledges. It was challenging, but when you got a good one, it was awesome.”

Director, Ross Whitaker also commented on the lack of female surfers in the film, describing it as one of his disappointments in the film production. He suggested that this was indicative of the male dominated media focus on the sport: “It is very unbalanced and women are not used to being filmed in that world.”

Between Land and Sea is screening at various locations across Ireland in April and May. Further information is available at



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