Aileen's Wave, Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.
Beneath the Cliffs of Moher sits a sleeping giant. Aileen’s Wave is regarded as one of the world's biggest and best waves.
Like a viewing platform for primordial giants who wish to peer over the edge of Europe, the Cliffs of Moher provide an unrivalled view across the vast boiling wildness of the Atlantic Ocean, a world unchanged since the pre Celtic masters of magic when the Tuatha Dé Danann ruled Ireland.
In protest at the arrival of Christianity and the loss of the magical rituals, the Tuatha turned themselves into horses and hid in caves for centuries. One day seven foals emerged from the caves and, frightened by the bright sunlight, they bolted. Galloping along the edge of the cliffs they met their awful fate at a spot known as Aill Na Searrach, or the "Leap of the Foals" in English. Many say maybe the spirit of the mythological horses has been harnessed by the waves, today the surfers call it Aileen's. Rising farther than 3km from shore, it rears as high as 12m. It’s not for anyone but the most experienced surfers.
What makes her the ‘perfect wave’? With a giant, plunging breaker, the steepness of the wave face gives surfers the board speed they need to carry through the wave’s huge vortex, or tube, letting them ride in the barrel.
The setting at the Cliffs of Moher could not be more dramatic. Paddling in has been described as like entering a scene from The Lord of the Rings. Off in the middle distance the three Aran islands lie low and black in the water like great basking sharks. Closer to hand a great sea stack juts up beneath the cliffs and humpback whales frequently break the surface within sight of the cliffs.
Many would associate surfing with sun filled places with coconut palms etc but for our Aileen, all she needs is good oul Irish weather, stormy seas and easterly offshore winds.