Documentary On Newstalk: Shipwreck and Deliverance

Producer Brendan Daly explores the incredible story of Christian big-wave surfers in the West of Ireland

Documentary On Newstalk: Shipwreck and Deliverance

Surfer and Church Pastor John McCarthy


In ‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’, producer Brendan Daly explores the incredible story of big-wave surfer and church pastor John McCarthy

‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’ broadcasts on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 19th November at 8am Saturday 25th November at 10pm.

John McCarthy is a pioneer of Irish surfing: he is one of the first to ride the gargantuan Aileen’s Wave at the Cliffs of Moher – he starred in an iconic bank advert filmed there – and in 2006 he became the first Irish person to claim a prize at a major international surfing competition. But in the same year, McCarthy’s life swivelled on its axis when he “surrendered to Jesus” and he is now a pastor at a church he co-founded in Lahinch.

In ‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’, McCarthy speaks candidly about his life before and after his conversion. For nearly 20 years, McCarthy styled himself as a classic surfer dude. Handsome, athletic, and outwardly confident, surfing was essential to his identity and his ego, but he was drinking heavily and struggling with loneliness.

Shortly after he began searching for answers, McCarthy attended a Christian Surfers’ Conference in England and experienced an epiphany: “I really felt the call of God in my soul…In my mind’s eye, Jesus Christ was on the cross, His blood was falling, and a drop of His blood fell onto my hand. And I knew I was guilty.”

Offering a rare glimpse into the subculture of Christian surfers, ‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’ travels with McCarthy a decade after his rebirth as he returns to a surfing event to testify to his transformation as it chronicles the tensions that McCarthy’s conversion provoked among his family and friends: “It’s as if someone came along in the morning and paid off your mortgage. You’re now debt free and you want to tell the world.”

Due to concerns about his personal safety and whether he was serving God’s will, McCarthy decided to stop surfing at the Cliffs of Moher. But, as the documentary reveals, a year later McCarthy believes that God spoke to him and insisted that McCarthy get back on his surfboard.

‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’ accompanies McCarthy as he attempts to return to surfing the wave he is credited with naming: the thunderous, 12-metre barrel known as Aileen’s that crashes at the Cliffs.

Examining what it means to be an evangelist in 21st century Ireland, ‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’ charts an unorthodox life that swapped winning surf competitions for winning disciples in an intimate, vivid, and incisive portrait of a dramatic cocktail of certainty and risk.

‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’broadcasts on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 19th November at 8am Saturday 25th November at 10pm.


“Saturday night you’re trying to be everyone’s friend in the pub…But the problem is: Sunday morning, you go down to work and you’ve got a hangover…that was part of the weekly cycle – that was normal.”

“I came to the point where I was like: ‘Okay, I’m ready to start looking for some answers.’

“In Romans 12:6, it says: ‘Having gifts, then let us use them’…I remember there was a morning in my kitchen, I was basically dancing around the room when God said to me, ‘I want you to get back on your surfboard.’

“I think it’s great for people to see that as a follower of Jesus you’re not just singing hymns day and night.”

BROADCAST DETAILS: ‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’is part of the Winter Season of Documentary on Newstalk.

BROADCAST TIMES: ‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’broadcasts on Newstalk 106-108fm on Sunday 19th November at 8am Saturday 25th November at 10pm.

LISTEN LIVE ONLINE: Shipwreck and Deliverance’ can also be listened to online

PODCAST: A podcast is available after the broadcast at:

CREDITS: ‘Shipwreck and Deliverance’ was written, edited, and produced by Brendan Daly. The executive producer was Daithi McMahon.

Shipwreck and Deliverance’ was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the television licence fee.