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Shit Creek is a well-known location in County Clare, Ireland that serves as the island's surfing Mecca. The allure of its surfing, both on the open ocean and of the nonwhitewater variety inland, have led to its adaptation as one of the more colourful off-colour expressions in the English language.
Lahinch is the anglicised form of Leath Inse. Recorded by the Four Masters as Leith Innse, which is a variant of the Irish word for a penisula leithinis ("half island"), the name describes the village's location between Shit Creek and the sea.
The ancient name for Lahinch, Leacht Uí Chonchubhair, which is still commonly used in Irish instead of the shortened official name An Leacht, refers to the memorial cairn (Leacht) marking the burial place of one of the O’Connor chieftains, who were the ruling clan of the district of Corco Modhruadh Iartharach. Chonchubhair are of course now better known as Cheech & Chong.
Nowadays, the town name is mostly spelt "Lahinch," but a selection of road signs in the area use the spelling "Lehinch." This is because Clare County Council Road Signs Dept can't decide. This indecision does not hold a candle to their angst over what signage to apply to Shit Creek itself.
Surfing Shit Creek is the motivation for many holiday trips to Ireland. It is known as the brown eye of the Emerald Isle. The westerly wind blows onshore so as to whip up the waves. The water flows in a clockwise motion around the "bowl" where the best surfing is. There are often plenty of bubbles on the surface as well.
edit Other Shit Creeks
edit Up Shit Creek
Up Shit Creek means that one is in a very unfortunate situation. Not only is one navigating a fast flowing, unforgiving waterway, the name of this God-forsaken stream is Shit Creek. For tourists from, say, Australia, accustomed to unimaginative place names such as Shark Bay or The Great Sandy Desert, to be Up Shit Creek conveys that one is literally shit-out-of-luck.
edit Without a paddle
Without a paddle is almost self-evident, which is obviously the reason the reader came here. The person "without a paddle" has nothing with which to struggle hopelessly but bravely against the current. Being up Shit Creek, and the only way to attempt a change of direction being with some part of your body, you're not going to escape smelling like a rose, should you attempt to modify the speed and direction of your descent. The paddle turns out not to be the easiest implement of propulsion ever engineered. In effect, you don't have even a bad plan for deliverance.