020: Easkey Britton/How To Be Like Water
“Surfing is the one thing I can’t do without. It’s shaped everything in my life. It’s where I find my aliveness and joy”.
For the third and final part of my Irish omnibus, recorded on my trip to the west coast at the end of September 2017, I headed to Galway to see the great Easkey Britton.
Easkey is a surfer, XXL nominee, swimmer, academic, artist, thinker, activist, environmentalist and explorer from Donegal. Part of the legendary Britton clan, she grew up surfing the great waves around Bundoran and Rossnowlagh, and is today famed for surfing some of the scariest waves around, like Mullaghmore and Aileens.
Yet as I discovered, there’s much more to Easkey than a penchant for taking on big waves. We covered a lot of ground during during our wide-ranging and captivating chat – obviously her background as a surfer, but also her academic work, her family’s role as pioneers of the Irish surf scene and the way she is linking these threads together through the many different projects she’s involved in, such as Like Water and the new Ocean Collectiv, of which she’s a founding partner.
Among the highlights:
- Easkey on the experience of surfing waves like Mullaghmore
- Her travels in Iran
- How her family helped introduce surfing to Ireland
- Easkey on the disconnect between people and nature.
Ultimately this one is about connecting threads, and how through curiosity, openness, generosity and striving you can create links between the things that interest you for the greater good. Thanks Easkey! It was great to talk to you.
If you only have five minutes…
Listen to this section - Easkey on the experience of surfing big waves
- Life on the road
- Easkey’s work on the link between environment and wellbeing
- PhD in environment and society
- The barriers between people and nature
- The hidden values being lost as this relationship breaks down
- The tangible effects – and how communities are coping
- Moving from the intuitive to the practical
- Why are people disconnected from nature, and how?
- How we build bridges that repair this disconnect
- “For me there was never a life before surfing”
- ‘Blue’ Heritage
- Easkey’s gran’s role in introducing tourism and surfing in Ireland
- The Britten family – Irish surfing pioneers
- How the different Irish surfing scenes linked up to form one community
- The legacy of a name
- The power of positive role models
- Tough love training
- Growing up with this surf heritage
- Easkey’s relationship with her Dad
- How Easkey’s surfing life evolved
- Surfing the great leveller
- The appeal of early surf contests
- How jumping in the sea is a simple way of breaking down the barriers between you and nature.
- ‘Blue Mind’ by Wallace J Nicholls
- The ocean as the planet’s life support
- How big wave surfing affects Easkey’s relationship with herself and nature.
- Celebrating the sensory ‘micro moments’ of the experience of big wave surfing
- Overcoming fear through the active application of mindfulness
- Easkey on paddling out at the Cliffs
- The Irish big wave surf community
- The reemergence of paddle surfing
- Easkey’s Dad unable to watch her at Mullaghmore
- Linking the work, surf and travel threads
- The adventure of travelling at home
- How travel – and Iran in particular – has shaped Easkey’s life.
- First Iran trip
- Iran’s legendary hospitality
- Second Iran trip
- Iran’s action sports community
- First Iranian surfers
- The synchronicity of Easkey’s family’s story and the story of surfing in Iran
- Waves of Freedom
- How Iranian surf culture is growing
- How you can’t predict how those seeds will flourish
- The unexpected ways in which surfing communities evolves
- How to be like water – connecting with your natural environment
- The wave as metaphor for life
- ‘I’m doing a lot but now it feels connected’
- The themes are the story.
- Easkey’s TEDx talk
- Using the same techniques for public speaking and big wave surfing
- Digging in for the winter in Ireland