An Urban Freeflow Community Interview with Ireland’s VYRE Freerunning Team.
Irish Parkour and Freerunning photographer Brendan Jackman @urbanmovespk recently caught up with VYRE Freerunning to ask them about the challenges they had to overcome on their Freerunning journey.
We were curious what drives and motivates the Freerunners to keep training in the Irish community, which is relatively young to the sport. Here’s what went down…
INSPIRATION, MOTIVATION, DEDICATION. These are words that I associate with the VYRE Freerunning team from Wexford town (population 20,000) in the South East of Ireland. VYRE is Andrew Ross, Jason Busher, Alex Eydt, Emmet Lawlor, Ethan Byrne and Adam Culleton. I always enjoy working on photoshoots with the guys from VYRE. They take their Freerunning serious, but in a lighthearted way, if you know what I mean. They always make it very easy for me by setting up amazing flows that look great on camera. Achieving that level of professionalism, skill and dedication is not easy.
How long have you all been training together and how did you all meet?
Andrew: I started in 3rd year of secondary school and have been training ever since, which would be 4 years ago now. Jason and I started training together with a friend of ours, Dylan. We had been training a good 10 months before we started training with Ethan and Ciaran (an old member of VYRE). We noticed them in the gym in school doing some vaults so we asked them what they were doing and showed them what we could do and it started from there. Alex and Adam joined later on after seeing what we do through the school talent shows and such.
Alex: I’ve been training for just gone 3 years. I was wandering around school looking for something to do other than soccer, stumbled into the gym where the lads were training and was instantly hooked.
Ethan: I’ve been training for 4 years now and I met the lads at a spot that we train at where they happened to be. They also happened to be in my school too. We all just met up one day to train and that’s when our training days began.
Emmet: I met the lads in Wexford gymnastics club after hearing that there was Parkour and Freerunning classes there in about 2013. I was very on and off about Freerunning as I just wasn’t any good, but finally just became obsessed with it half way through 2014 and I’m so glad I did today! I have been training with the guys ever since and got asked to join VYRE this year. It was amazing to meet 6 other people as into Freerunning as I was, since at that time Freerunning was close to an unknown sport in Ireland!
I’ve heard a few different stories of where the team name VYRE came from. What’s the real story?
Alex: We decided we needed a new name other than Urban Reach so we started blurting out other words that meant nothing but sounded cool.
Andrew: Yeah we were on the way up to the OTE jam and were previously talking about coming up with a name for the group. So we were having a chat about possible names and from what I can remember somebody said “Fire” then Jason said “VYRE” and it immediately caught so we stuck with it.
I couldn’t find any common meaning for VYRE, just a reference to characters in the adventure game RuneScape. If you had to define VYRE what qualities would you like it to represent?
Jason: I would like VYRE to represent us as we are, our own word that becomes a description of us and
what we express through our movement and our team. My main wish is to inspire others and live life to the best I can.
Alex: If VYRE became a word I’d like it to mean chaotic but innocent fun/living.
Ethan: Adventure, exploring and discovering new things.
Emmet: The feeling of being able to escape, feel at one with everything around you.
Adam: The freedom to express yourself in whatever way feels right and to make friends and have fun.
What challenges did you face when taking up Freerunning in a small community?
Andrew: I think the hardest challenge starting in such a small community was finding other people who did Freerunning. It took a while to develop a good group of people to train with. Another challenge was other people’s opinions on it. In school for instance people used to make fun of it for the first 2 years. We didn’t let that stop us though and kept going and now we don’t get any hassle because of it.
Jason: Being a Freerunner in a small town and a place with no knowledge of it was definitely a challenge. People often misunderstood what we were doing and labeled us as weird or in the case of some “up to trouble”. But I was training and expressing movement for my own self and it was something I enjoyed. People would ask me what we were doing and I would explain what it was and what it meant to us. People would then see the many positives of what we were doing and would become interested in it from there. I
would say the greatest challenge was getting people to understand what and why were doing what we do, and showing them just how much it meant to us.
Emmet: The biggest challenge is having to explain to people why you’re climbing this or flipping that, cause most people just don’t understand why we do it. They’ll think it’s cool, but they don’t understand it. I often refer to it as “urban gymnastics” when explaining it to people.
Adam: One of the hardest things is trying to get the content we make out there for people to see. We want to be recognised for what we do by the locals.
What was the local reaction to you initially when people saw you training around town?
Andrew: It was kind of 50/50. Some people thought it was great to see that we were dedicated to something but then there was the other half who, I think, found it hard to understand how this was a fully fledged sport and not just a bunch of lads jumping around on walls.
Jason: the younger generation would throw negative comments at us while the older generations would not understand that it was a real sport/art form.
Emmet: Other people in our age group are very split. Some lads take the piss because we’re not planting potatoes or riding horses so it’s very absurd to them. Older people think it’s dangerous but nice. Once a man said to me “Freerunning should be an Olympic sport!” Younger kids try to join in with cartwheels and ask a huge amount of questions.
Adam: There is a very mixed opinion about what we do: some people don’t really acknowledge it; some take great interest and ask questions about where or how we started. Then there is a small minority of people who don’t like it and think it’s stupid, but that has become less frequent now.
How did you deal with this reaction?
Andrew: Well we were really appreciative of the people who supported us and for the people who weren’t supportive we didn’t really take any negative comments to heart and just kept training and now I think there’s very few people opposed to Freerunning in Wexford.
“By continuing to train and explaining to those who approached us what we were doing and what it means to us we changed our often-misunderstood image to a positive one.” – Jason
Alex: We just kept training. It didn’t bother us and over time we improved and gained respect and now it’s one of the fastest growing sports in Wexford.
Ethan: We didn’t care what the others thought and we still don’t but we just kept training and paid no attention to the people who gave us hate.
Emmet: I love the idea of making interactions with other people unusual and special, and I think Freerunning gives me that opportunity, so when the kids do their cartwheels and stuff you just react like it’s the coolest thing in the world. The other guys that take the piss, what can you do? At the end of the day, where would they actually want to be, planting potatoes or a part of VYRE?
Adam: We’re happy to talk to people about it and answer questions, but we always keep focused on training and improving ourselves. We also encourage people who have questions to try Freerunning for themselves.
What did you do to change people’s perceptions of Freerunning?
Jason: We kept training, were always friendly to those who approached us, and started to teach kids to practise Freerunning, and give back to the community that we had trained ourselves in for so long.
Alex: The older lads (Jay, Drew and Adam) were asked to coach a class in the gym for kids and did so but stopped as they were doing their exams so I took it up. Lots of parents signed their young boys up to this and the response from them has been fantastic.
Ethan: We kept training and people then came to realize that their slagging didn’t affect us. Then as we got better they started to notice how cool the sport is and we now get a lot of respect from our community. We also performed in shows and people who came to watch found the sport exciting and entertaining
Emmet: Everyone knows what Freerunning and Parkour is. They just can’t put a name on jumping over a fence, or what that cool thing is in the movies. Showing them that anybody can do it or how safe it actually is usually sways people’s opinion.
I believe you managed to get Parkour banned in your school? How did that come about?
Jason: After an injury of one of the guys, the principal banned it as he felt it was too dangerous. Though we were much less experienced back then, it was an accident and the school had to do what they felt was necessary as this was a new and little known sport in our area.
Alex: The announcement by the Principal over the intercom, when he said he wanted “no more HARDCORE activities in the gym” gave us all a laugh.
You later put on a Parkour performance in school. What brought about the change in attitude?
Jason: We persisted in our training and were approached to do the show as a teacher thought it would make a good show. Through this show our image at the school changed and both the staff and students of the school understood that we did in fact take it seriously and wanted to show others what we do.
Alex: The attitude didn’t really change but it was our one moment of glory in the year, obviously as we improved the response got better every year.
Ethan: The people in our school finally realized how awesome we are.
Adam: I have absolutely no idea! I think one of our teachers convinced our Principal that we’d be fine.
You’ve also been busy training the next generation of Freerunners in your neighbourhood. How did you get that started and how is the training organised?
Andrew: Well it all started with us being invited out to the Wexford Gymnastics Club by a coach who we met whilst training in town. He invited us out to see what the gym was like. After we had been training there for about 8 months or so the owner asked Jason and I if we would like to start up a weekly class to teach younger kids what we were doing. We saw this as a great opportunity to develop the sport more in Wexford and jumped at it, haha !!
Alex: As I said earlier the older lads started coaching classes in the gym where we train (Wexford Gymnastics Club) but were in the middle of their exams so were forced to stop. I took up the class and now there’s about 40 kids training between 8 – 12 yrs and they love it. There is also a free-for-all class for older lads and this is generally where the younger guys we train with start, or are introduced to us.
How big is the Wexford Parkour and Freerunning community now?
Andrew: Its quite big now for a small town like Wexford. There’s around 12 fully committed people training; us and another younger group called “Kyro”. Then there are another 20 people who train at the gym occasionally. So all together there’s about 30 training in Wexford.
Ethan: There are a growing number of groups in Wexford, which is crazy! When I first started Freerunning about 3-4 years ago people were amazed at the simplest of vaults.
Adam: The difference even in the last two years is amazing, the community has grown so much and we are so happy with the growth.
Since the Off The Edge (OTE) tour stopped off in Dublin (read the UF article about it here) the Irish community seems much more connected now. What effect has this had on your own local community?
“It definitely shocked me, the amount of people in the Irish community. From then on we’ve tried to attend as many events that we can around the country. It’s just really inspiring to know we’re part of something bigger, rather than just us down here on our own.” – Andrew
Jason: I did not know how many people there were in the Irish Community until the OTE Jam. Since then I always try to get to any events held, and since training with others I came to realise we are part of something a lot more than just a small few of us here in Wexford. It has also influenced how I train myself and use many of the techniques and movement ideals learnt from training with the broader Community.
Adam: We are connected to other Freerunners all over the country and it’s great because it also makes us work harder and get better for the next jam whenever that will be.
Has your training improved much because of traveling and training with other Freerunners in Ireland?
Andrew: Definitely I’ve learned different, and many times better, techniques for certain moves from lots of different Freerunners around the country.
Jason: For sure, I’ve learnt new approaches to the simpler and more difficult movements and my style of training has changed for the better from training with others around the country.
Alex: I think training with other communities showed me the different approaches to training so it’s all very educational.
Ethan: I haven’t actually trained with other people around Ireland cause I’m too poor to go to all these events :( but I would love to train with other people not only in Ireland but around the world.
Adam: Yes everyone has their own style and personalities and that helps because they will have their individual ways of mastering tricks that you might not think of.
Travel broadens the mind and creates memories that can last a lifetime. Alex and Ethan, you’ve been to China and even got to train on the Great Wall of China. That must have been a surreal experience. What was the local reaction to your training?
Alex: It was by far the most memorable set of days of my life! Back home the response was amazing. The video of China has over 1000 views on my channel which is huge and “The Great Fall Of China” was a big hit in Wexford too. In China the people were intrigued by us flipping, always wanting photos or videos. It was class!
Ethan: It was amazing. The people over there thought what we did was amazing and they had never seen anything like it. Then the video Alex made of the trip blew up and we got amazing feedback from it.
Emmet, you’ve recently been on a trip around Asia. Where did you visit and did you get a chance to connect with any local communities there and train with them?
Emmet: I was in Phuket, Thailand, the closest I got to another Freerunner was when a Thai man who spoke close to no English approached me while I was training outside a shopping mall and he could do a two handed vault over a rail, but after Thailand I flew to Abu Dhabi and got kicked off the beach due to being “disorderly”.
Andrew and Jason, you’ve traveled most of Ireland recently on an extended Freerunning tour. What are some of your best memories from that tour?
Jason: For me I think it was not one single memory, it was all the people we met with and realising just how connected people are despite distances, all it takes is a bus journey, and in the case of the Irish Freerunning Community, people are so like-minded and share the great changes that Freerunning has made on those who do it.
Did you get a lot of footage and when can we see the tour video?
Andrew: We filmed a fair bit of footage. I think it totaled to around 60GB. But we were focusing more on enjoying and taking in the experience than filming the whole time. The video will be released in 2 – 3 parts and should hopefully be up by the time this article comes out.
Jason: We filmed a lot, yet our focus was more on living in the moment and experiencing all we could while travelling our home country, which was great, and I was amazed at how much Freerunning spots there are in Ireland.
Now for the more difficult questions. What’s your favourite food?
Andrew: Probably would be Subway. Big beef to be exact.
Ethan: Fried chicken.
Emmet: Special Fried Rice, with like egg and bacon bits and stuff!
Who are your Parkour and Freerunning heroes and why?
Jason: Storror, they just live the right kind of life that I would like to try to achieve myself, full of memories and experiences and they travel the world and train with other Freerunners. Their videos inspire me to travel the world and see all the things I can.
Alex: Storror. The life they live is a life that I would love and even if I would live in poverty the memories, which is the real earnings of life, are of the best in world (shit that was philosophical).
Ethan: Storror. Their life is amazing. Their life consists of adventure and exploring and they look like a fun group who don’t take much things seriously and that’s what I want.
Emmet: Ronnie Street Stunts, he’s a bit cringie at times but is one of the best out there, the way he can turn nothing into a place to train! He does a lot with video games like super Mario and assassin’s creed, and video games are my life outside of school and freerunning!
Adam: Farang are a big influence on the way I train and record footage and just the way they all seem to be having so much fun doing what they love
What are your current Freerunning goals and ambitions?
Andrew: To be the best I can be. My ultimate goal would be to have a career in Freerunning so I could spend all my time developing the sport and improving myself.
Adam: My biggest problem is the fear of trying the actual move I know I can do, but my biggest goal is to train as hard as I can and do the best I can do.
Jason: Live everyday in the moment and create great memories. And I would love in the future to be able to create a life where I can make a living from it and experience the world from the perspective of a Freerunner.
“Literally to just enjoy it and have fun and explore the world and train in new places that’s my goal and that’s what I’m going to work towards. I don’t even mind if I don’t get famous in the Freerunning community as long as I have fun doing it and exploring then I’m glad.” – Ethan
Alex: To make enough money to get by with Freerunning, that would be amazing. I want it to take me around the world and if I can, make that my living and life goals.
Emmet: I would love to learn how to Freerun in nature, like running from tree to tree and stuff, and to freerun in the Tempest academy!
What advice would you give to beginners starting out in Freerunning in a small community today?
Andrew: Just keep doing it. Don’t expect to be pro in a few months. It takes time and just put that time and work in and you will see improvement. Try to find a few others who want to start it up also or go to a Jam where you can get the feel of it all.
Jason: Try not let those who don’t understand it make you stop, do what you love to do and as you progress they will come to see why it is you do what you do. Training with others is always great. Try to get others to start Freerunning and go to or even set up some jams and connect with other groups that train near you.
Alex: Keep at it. The first year is the hardest. After that your face planting decreases and you can turn any move into your own and can flip, vault or just bail out of anything. Peace out.
Ethan: Funk the haters.
Emmet: People won’t get it at the start, and you’ll feel like quitting a lot. I was on and off for about 2-3 years before joining an actual Freerunning gym, but just keep going and the more you obsess over it you’ll have just as many tricks as the amount of videos you’ve watched about Freerunning!
Adam: Find someone with the same interest as you and meet and train the small things at first, then see if there’s any clubs or even a gym that you could go to and train the more dangerous moves. Watch YouTube videos and take it slowly. Nobody was able to do fronts into concert in their first day. It takes time, just stay with it. it’s worth every minute you put in.
On that positive note we’ll wrap up this interview. Thanks for sharing with us guys!
Before leaving, enjoy the VYRE Freerunning Summer 2015 video to catch those good vibes, and connect with them below:
Connect with Brendan Jackman online (Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and view the complete VYRE photo shoot galleries at: