The Perfect Wave

At certain times of the year, just off the 214m-high Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, the conditions are just right to create a wave that can soar to a whopping 12m

Let us introduce you to Aileen’s Wave, which scientists at the National University of Ireland Galway, have decreed is the nearest thing to the “perfect wave”. Local surfer John McCarthy is credited with naming it after the nearby headland Aill na Searrach (the cliff of foals). Filmmaker Peter Clyne, whose video above captured it in all its majesty, explains: "Aileen's is the most spectacular place to spend time capturing film. Everything about the places is of giant proportions. The mammoth waves that Aileen produces are dwarfed by the majestic, unspoilt Cliffs of Moher."

So magnificent are the cliffs, in fact, that they form part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark, the first UNESCO designated site in County Clare.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Legendary name

This headland gets its name from the fable of the seven Tuatha Dé Danann, a race of Irish gods who, angry at St Patrick for bringing Christianity to Ireland, transformed themselves into foals and galloped over the edge of the cliffs. The wave became the stuff of legends, but tackling it by board only became reality when it was first surfed by John McCarthy in 2005.

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Surf stars

Recent years have seen pretty much all of the rising stars of the surf world challenging their skills at Aileen’s, including five-time National Champion and first lady of Irish surf, Easkey Britton. Even they have to time their journey right, though, as it’s rare enough.

It needs a precise combination of stormy conditions and easterly winds to create it, so if you don’t manage to catch a glimpse while in the area, don’t worry. Head inside into the warmer and less windy Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, and there’s a photographic exhibition of surfers riding the wave. Avoid the crowds and enjoy reduced rates if you visit before 11am or after 4pm.

Peter Clyne is always eager to share another unique vantage point; “sitting in the channel at the foot of the cliffs pointing your lens in at the giant waves is an experience like none other.”

Time it right, and you won't just have to take his word for it.

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