Scorching sunshine with a summer breeze, Ireland’s favourite surf ‘n’ music festival brought the gorgeous seaside town of Bundoran to life last weekend.
Even though the campsite – located at the local GAA club – is about 10-15 minute walk away from the festival arena, it did allow revellers to soak up the atmosphere in Bundoran’s bars and attractions.
From the early hours of the morning to the middle of the day, people stroll along the north-west coast of Ireland, with weather that of any sunny spot you would expect from somewhere in the Mediterranean.
On Friday night, The Dandy Warhols headlined Sea Sessions’ main stage. The band have had ‘one major hit’ as far as most of audience remember, but the Portland rockers are keen to show there is more to offer than ‘Bohemian Like You’. Other songs that fans of the band might recall include: ‘We Used To Be Friends’ and ‘Every Day Should Be A Holiday’.
Hermitage Green went down very well on the Vodafone Stage, as did beatbox maestro Beardyman in the 2fm ‘Beat Shack’.
The Dead Prezidents had a sizeable crowd following Beardyman’s set in the shack, but many preferred DJ Yoda’s excellent mix of Breaking Bad infused setlist with eye-catching visuals to boot.
On Saturday, a walk down to the surfing hotspot Tullan Strand provided a scenic view of surrounding mountains and coaster viewpoints. Some of the group I travelled with decided to go surfing, so we got a lift from local surfer Darragh, who told us about his experience of starting out in Bundoran’s surf scene.
“I moved here two-year ago and only about two minutes away. At first, I used to rent – surfboard and wetsuit – but then I bought a board and suit.” Darragh then told us that for a reasonable price, he bought a “branded” wetsuit for about €100 and a surfboard for €180, which is quite cheap considering the amount of use you could get.
Surfing is the main attraction by the looks of it, as Darragh later added about the tourist scene; “Summer months are very busy, but it can be like a ghost town in the winter”.
Darragh got his gear from Bundoran Surf Co. which is one of many shops in the area. Owner Ciaran is a “Valleys” man. We went back on Sunday with a few more surfing enthuasits to the shop, where he broke down the price for those who want to dabble in surfing “A surfboard and swimset here costs €20 for the day, and then all you have to do is bring it back by 5:30pm”.
Following a blistering afternoon on the beaches and the banter in the campsite, focus turned to music and skate events in the festival arena.
Walking On Cars seemed to be the favourites from early in the evening. Elsewhere, We Cut Corners filled in for Funeral Suits on the Vodafone Stage. The crowd seemed to hop from stage to stage in waves, but most of the acts were unfazed and continued to please.
Stand out set of the night went to The Strypes, although Raglans weren’t far behind. Friction & Linguastics closed the 2fm ‘Beat Shack’ to a buoyant crowd.
Hudson Taylor and Drenge seemed to kick off the party feeling early on at the main stage. Little Matador rocked the Vodafone tent.
But it was Kelis who stole the show as Sunday headline act, with a fantastic band playing to a packed main stage tent, the set was golden just like the backdrop.
Some sad news reached us earlier that day, as we heard Ella Eyre’s tour bus was involved in a collision outside Mullingar, leaving two band members in hospital. They have since recovered and Ella was able to perform at further events.
There is a lot that goes on at Sea Sessions. The beach events like soccer, the surfing, skating, the beer tasting at Koppaberg and O’Hara’s tents. Even the World Cup got a showing on the big screen vans at the entrances to the main stage.
The weather made it more enjoyable for sure, but you are highly unlikely to be twiddling your thumbs at this festival. Instead you can expect thrills and leave the resting for when the dust settles and you are back home.