Book Review: Cliffs Of Insanity by Keith Duggan

Most surfers will know their surf history and heritage especially as the roots of modern surfing are less than a century old. However the classic stories and memorable events to have been chronicled thus far have been confined to a fairly restrictive number of key events in the evolution of our sport and most of these are from a  Hawaiian/US-centric perspective. Incredible stories from Waimea, Makaha, Peahi, Mavericks etc abound but have been repeated in almost every non-fiction surfing book ever published. However there’s a much wider surfing folklore and heritage being created daily beyond the mainstream which are just as valid. Surfers are pushing boundries and discoveries in the wildest of locations which is why the release of the new book “Cliffs of Insanity” is such a refreshing proposition.

Cliffs of Insanity

The book written by award winning Irish Times Journalist Keith Duggan, shines a light on a small community of surfers carving out a life immersed in the cold forboding Atlantic waters of Western Ireland where insane slabs and monster waves as impressive as any on the planet are being surfed and documented. The book is beautifully crafted and delves into the life of some of the leading figures in Irish surfing including the main protagonists Fergal Smith and photographer Mickey Smith following their exploits in and around County Clare and the waves called “Aileens” and “Rileys”. Duggans writing captures and evokes the rugged and remote Irish backdrop transporting the reader to place beyond the surfing stereotypes, pretensions and commercialism to locations and surfers which are the very definition of “Keeping it real”.

Ireland and her surfers deserve to be placed higher in the world of big wave and progressive surfing and no doubt one day will be. The likes of Fergal, Mickey, Richie and the boys are creating a solid foundation for a legacy which will resonate for years to come, so I’ve nothing but praise for Duggan bringing a book like “Cliffs of Insanity” to a print – grab a copy!

Publishers Synopsis 

Published by Transworld Ireland on 27th September 2012. RRP £14.99

Keith Duggan tells the story of a devoted group of surfers in County Clare whose lives revolve around the pursuit of Ireland’s wildest waves. This beautifully illustrated book centres around the countless hours in the freezing water trying to read the ocean for those few awe-inspiring seconds when they master a wave. Cliffs of Insanity is about a way of life that flies in the face of everything championed in Ireland over the last decade. It is a book about community, friendship and a passionate pursuit told by an award winning journalist. 


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