Fergal Smith is Running in the General Election
Words by Ali Klinkenberg | Photos by Mickey Smith Ireland’s most famous surfing export (sorry Micro) Fergal Smith is running for Irish Parliament in the general election for the Green Party. Fergal’s pro surfing path has been anything but orthodox. Pre-Fergal there wasn’t such a thing as a professional surfer from Ireland – not in an international freesurfing […]
Words by Ali Klinkenberg | Photos by Mickey Smith
Ireland’s most famous surfing export (sorry Micro) Fergal Smith is running for Irish Parliament in the general election for the Green Party. Fergal’s pro surfing path has been anything but orthodox. Pre-Fergal there wasn’t such a thing as a professional surfer from Ireland – not in an international freesurfing capacity at least – and Ferg’s truly established the West Coast of Ireland as a world class heavy wave locale. Fergal’s profile reached a peak in the latter years of Analog, but with the brand died Ferg’s drive to ‘make it’ as a professional surfer in the traditional sense.
Fergal’s spent his post-Analog time working on his Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm The Moy Hill Community Garden in county Clare, in the vicinity of some of the gems of the Irish heavy water scene. The depiction of the simple life in Fergal’s web series ‘Growing’ has been a welcome respite from the fast paced, disposable nature of much of surfing’s web offerings.
Now Ferg has decided turned his focus to politics, and will run for the Green Party in his native County Clare. In standing for the Greens Fergal hopes to inspire future generations to take up similar farming schemes to the one that he set up in Lahinch, and this sentiment of preservation is said to have sprouted since Ferg became a father. “It’s not for me anymore,” Fergal told a local radio station. “Since becoming a parent I’m worried about safeguarding their future and that’s what it’s all about for me. It’s about allowing my daughter to grow up in a healthy safe world.”
Fergal then went on to explain how his current political campaign came to be. “The Green Party approached me. I thought about it long and hard and I spoke to my wife about it and I just felt like I had to do something. It’s serious when you have a kid and you’re thinking about the future and you see the way things are going. I’ve got a lot to say and hopefully I’ll be able to inspire the next generation to do something about it.”
A man who’s excited about paddling out solo into this kind of scene gets our vote every time.
It’s interesting to note that Ireland’s first female national surfing champion Grace O’Sullivan is also running for the Greens in Waterford in the southeast of the country. The alignment of the Irish Green party with high profile surfers like Fergal is an inspired choice given the crescendoing nature Ireland as a surfing destination.
After being sponsorless for some time, Fergal’s recently gained the support of chic UK outdoor brand Finisterre. As a brand with one foot in adventure and the other in sustainability, what more could you ask for in an ambassador that Europe’s best big wave surfer/community farmer/Green party candidate. It’s really a match made in eco heaven.
Some of Fergal’s key policies involve making County Clare a pioneer in sustainable outdoor and adventure tourism, to reduce teacher-student ratios, and to promote the Green Party’s school meals programme which aims to provide one hot meal to every child in the country made from local Irish ingredients through tax revenues and the European Social fund.
The only worrying thing about Ferg’s new chapter is that we mightn’t get to see him ploughing through Ireland’s with quite such frequency. Plenty try, but no one surfs Mullaghmore or Aileens quite like Fergal Smith. Ferg however, accepts the clipping of his surf time as a necessary sacrifice. “I will have a lot less time to surf, but I’ve travelled the world for ten years and I’ve had a great time, and I feel like it’s my time to stand up and do something for my country.” If Fergal’s half as good at rabble rousing as his is at splitting icy caverns, then the emerald island might be just get a little greener.
Aileens is oft shot from the cliffs, and while beautiful, the sheer magnitude of the beast is softened. Here’s Ferg at sea level in as big and as perfect a wave as you’ll see at Aileens.
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