BARRY: It’s 50 years now, this year. My dad had this idea, and my older brother Brian, they had this idea that they would do something at the end of the season to close down the hotel. The hotel closed in September usually, in those years, and they thought it would be a great idea if they had a big weekend party. Empty out the kegs in the bar, no point sending them back with beer in them. So that was the kind of idea, a surfing party. So they came up with this Intercounties idea. So it’s going 50 years now… 1968 was the first one. Unfortunately, my brother Brian died earlier this year – he died in February. He’d love to have been here for the 50th and he’d love to have seen himself on the surfing poster…. We have him on the surfing poster this year. Unfortunately he didn’t live to see it.
NOAH: It’s a great poster…. And sorry to hear that. So your Mum brought back the first boards and your dad started the Intercounties?
BARRY: Brian did a lot of organising for all the surfing stuff all over the country back then. He was into promoting surfing and competitive surfing and surfing teams, and all the stuff that I think is wrong. He was pushing that stuff. But we still got on well, though we differed in opinions. Early on we realised we were going to be, well we probably came to fisticuffs way back then, you know? But we realised ‘this is not going to work too good.' So after that, from then on we never discussed anything to do with surfing together. We went surfing together. We went for pints together – we got on really good then as long as we didn’t talk about any of that surf business. We just left it to one side: I had my opinion; he had his… and we just left it like that. We never brought it up between ourselves.
NOAH: Easkey wrote a piece about the Borderlands and she referenced the cross-border safaris. I guess what I'm getting at is The Intercounties is all the counties of Ireland?
BARRY: Yeah, it’s an all Ireland thing. Antrim have won it quite a bit, actually. I remember back in the early days when we were learning to surf ourselves, this van appeared on the shore. It had a big sign painted on the side of it, and at this stage we’d got a few Surfer magazines and realised ‘Oh, Hawaii… This is where it all goes on, in Hawaii’. And we‘d figured out the North Shore and things like that, we’d heard of it, like. So this van arrived down with this big sign on the side of it - North Shore Surf Club or something, written on it. And it was the guys from Antrim – around Portrush. And we were going ‘ah, look at that, North Shore!’ They were good surfers, those guys. So they might have been at it before us, because they were pretty good.
NOAH: Was that Andy Hill's dad?
BARRY: No, it would have been Charlie Adjie, Alan Duke, Davey Govan, Brian Farthing, those kind of guys…
NOAH: Were they the guys that you did the safaris to Morocco with?
BARRY: No actually. Well they were guys from the North. They were guys from Enniskillen. Grant Robinson, you know him – Davie Pearce… a guy from Sligo, Noel Sexton, myself and Rocci Allan. We were in one little van. We were away for months and months and months. That changed everything. I was saving up to go back to college at that stage. I had this money gathered up and Grant says ‘I’m thinking of going on a trip and I need somebody to share the petrol costs and all.' So I had this money and I was looking at going to college and I was looking at him going to Morroco and I was like ‘OK, I'm in.' I never went back to college after that and I never wanted to either, because I realised there was a whole other way of living and that surfing was what I wanted to do and fuck everything else, basically.
NOAH: But you did still become an architect though?
BARRY: Yeah, I mean I had to make a living. When I came back I worked in an architect’s office for a while, and I definitely learnt more there than I would have learnt at college. Eventually I pulled the plug on Dublin because there was too many good pubs in it and I was spending a lot of time in them. But I was away nearly every weekend. Actually, we had a great arrangement. It was… the lads from Enniskillen would head for Easkey every weekend – we’d discovered Easkey at this stage, so we’d go to Easkey every weekend. So I’d get the train to Sligo, they’d be coming from Enniskillen and they’d pick me up in Sligo. Then we’d go out to Strandhill and Stan Burns had a jazz band playing – they were playing at night. So we went on the piss, enjoyed the jazz thing and then we’d stay with Stan, in Stan’s house on the floor, or the couch or anywhere we could find. Stan and Nina looked after us great. And then the next day we’d go to Easkey. We had a tent and we camped out in Easkey and surfed it for a couple of days. And then they’d take me back to the train on Sunday evening. It went on for a few years – every weekend, the same routine. It was great.
NOAH: Sounds amazing.
BARRY: I had to pull the plug on Dublin because I was getting too fond of the Guinness. Lovely Guinness down there, you know? Ended up living back up here and doing whatever I could. So I ended up architecting again.
NOAH: So architecture leans on drawing pretty heavily...
BARRY: Especially back then, the pen work, because there was no computers. That’s probably why I went from the pencil to the pen – because I was using the pen so much.