The country’s first surfing centre of excellence could be up and running next year after a tender was issued for its construction in Sligo.
The Government announced in November 2018 that the new national surf centre would be located in Strandhill and would be a key centre for visitors looking to capitalise on some of Europe’s best waves while touring along the Wild Atlantic Way.
The National Surf Centre of Excellence would also feature an interpretive experience that would tell the story of surfing in Sligo and along the Atlantic coast, an area that, pre-Covid-19, had become increasingly popular with domestic and international surfers.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced funding of over €1m from Fáilte Ireland to Sligo County Council for the venture on Strandhill promenade.
More than a year ago Sligo County Council tendered for architectural design for the project, which received planning permission in 2017, and this week it issued a fresh tender for the construction works, outlining how it is to be completed within 15 months of contracts being signed.
According to the tender issued by the local authority, the requirement is for a “new-build two-storey construction, -570m2-, comprising of a state-of-the-art modern national surf centre over two floors with associated siteworks with the provision of a peace park on an adjacent site.”
“The site is an existing ‘brownfield site and includes an existing single storey ‘domestic’ building and associated structures to the rear. The site is owned by Sligo County Council. The existing buildings and structures are to be demolished as part of the contracted works. The site also includes the existing peace park and renewal of same also forms part of the contracted works.
“The works involve the construction of a new two-storey comprising a state-of-the-art modern national surf centre over two floors with associated siteworks. Works to include demolition of existing buildings and outbuildings to the rear of the existing building, the construction of a new two surf centre and associated site development works.”
Lonely Planet is among the international publications that have hailed Sligo as a surfing destination. As far back as 2013 Lonely Planet named Mullaghmore as one of the ‘Best Spots to Catch a Wave’, measuring 15m high.
“High winds, choppy surfaces, and blinding rain can present obstacles, but the heavy, long tubes make up for the conditions,” it said.
The Surf Centre project was also awarded €615,000 from the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund in 2018 and at the time, the Taoiseach said: “Strandhill is already a very popular destination thanks to its wonderful location, great beaches and of course its secret weapon, the waves that have become so popular with locals and visitors alike.
“I am delighted to be announcing this significant funding for the development of the new Strandhill Surf Centre, which I have no doubt will make this coastal town even more popular in the years ahead.”