What is it about Strandhill? We chat to Aoife Porter from Bua Marketing to discover why it’s such a centre for wellbeing
Aoife Porter runs Bua Marketing, a digital agency established in Sligo in 2009. Bua delivers marketing and PR campaigns to a wide variety of clients including Sligo Tourism, LookWest.ie, Yeats2015 and start-up businesses across the North West.
Aoife also runs Swell Sligo, a network for web, creative and start-up communities in Sligo.
What is it about Strandhill that’s so special?
Strandhill is a little coastal village on the North West Atlantic Coast with great waves for surfers of all levels on the beach. It has become something of a mecca for surfers, yogis, coffee-lovers, hikers etc. However the magic of Strandhill is really in the community. There is a lovely combination of blow-ins and locals who all are super warm, welcoming and positive and so fiercely proud of this little place. The people who live here constantly inspire, nurture and challenge me to do new things and embark on new adventures.
I had a corporate career in the software sector in Dublin a long time ago. It wasn’t enough for me to nurture my whole sense of self-fulfilment. I also knew that long-term I wanted to raise a family somewhere that enabled them to be near the sea, in the outdoors and away from huge material pressure. Strandhill enables all of that while still only being just over two hours from Dublin when I need my urban fix.
I have had three children since I moved to Strandhill; which is definitely more of a challenge when you’re not near your own immediate family (mine are in Cork, though I am incredibly fortunate to have the world’s best mother-in-law quite close by). However, the women in my ‘Strandhill Sisterhood’ have been the best thing that has come in to my life since I met my husband. A more loving, non-judgemental, self-deprecating group of inspiring, adventurous women, you will not meet. To borrow the words of Jessie Smith, we are ‘steeped in luck’.
Do you think the wellness trend is here to stay?
I don’t think wellness is a trend; wellness has always been and will always be important. It is the self-care which enables you to cope with the stresses of life. We are just learning new waves of building it into our lives.
I believe in the importance of wellness both for physical health but also for the ability to cope with adversity and manage your mental health.
How does Strandhill attract wellness tourists?
Strandhill is a seaside village with a distinct identity; a bustling shorefront attracts globetrotters and surfers all year round. From some of the hippest eateries in the West to some of the most inspiring landscapes and walking trails, surf breaks and seaweed baths, this surf mecca along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, is finally coming of age. Strandhill has been attracting visitors for over 100 years, and has developed successfully during recent years to provide a variety of high-quality amenities and services in an integrated way, in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Strandhill has an incredibly strong offering for people who need a re-balance or are keen to get into the outdoors. We have six surf schools, seaweed baths, hiking, a yoga studio, kayaking, sup-ing, trail running, sea-swimming and so much more. We were so proud to win the EDEN Sustainable Tourism award recently under the theme of Health and Wellbeing.
Strandhill is now leading the development of Health & Wellbeing Tourist offerings nationally; visitors can choose from great collaborations between local accommodation, food and activity providers. For example, Salt and Soul regularly collaborate with Sligo Surf Experience and Sligo Kayak Tours to put on surf/yoga surf/kayak weekends etc
There are many events held in Strandhill promoting health and fitness e.g. the annual Warriors Run up and down Knocknarea, the Warrior of the Sea sea swimming race, the Coney Island run and the County Sligo Surf Open.
How do you personally maintain a level of balance?
Being self-employed (I set-up Bua Marketing, a creative digital marketing agency ten years ago) means I have some flexibility to control my day and make-up the time early in the morning or late in the evening if needs be. I believe my clients benefit from the creativity west-coast living inspires in me. There is also an incredible network of other creatives living here.
Being self-employed and a mother of three young children is quite a balancing act; however having my home and office in Strandhill simplifies my life so much that I can build some balance into my life. I keep a bike and surfboard in my office and try to plan each week where I will build some daily activity in each day. The surf forecast often dictates this.
However as much as exercise is important, being social and feeling part of a strong community is as important so I try to connect the two e.g. hikes and surfs with friends, mountain climbs with my kids etc. The juggle is real but I think I am very lucky to have a mountain, surfable waves and the most beautiful beaches right on my family’s doorstep.
Where’s your favourite place to visit in Strandhill?
The top of Knockanrea; once a week in the summertime a group of us climb the mountain setting off at 6am. The group can be different every week so you never know who you’ll end up chatting with. We take turns to bring coffee so there’s an extra incentive to reach the top and then when you do summit and get to sit and chat over a cuppa with that view; it’s bliss.
However, equally, I would say that one of my favourite views is the view back to Knocknarea and across to Ben Bulben from a surf board off the beach.
More information on Bua Marketing can be found here