‘We’ve tried to be more of a community than just a magazine.’

Phili Halton


goblin face jpeg

May 2023

What does Goblin mean?
Goblin’s name comes from a play on the name of the first Irish skate magazine named ‘’Wizard’’. Wizard was a big inspiration for us, though it only ran one issue due to the financial crises it was the first time Ireland really put itself in print with fantastic interviews, photos and artwork and has been a great time capsule to look back on in Irish skateboarding.

Goblin was launched in Dec 2018. Judging on your IG followers, the Irish skate community fully embraced Goblin in a relatively short period of time. Why do you think that is?
We’ve tried to be more of a community than just a magazine. Every time we do a magazine we make sure to back it up with a big event, so that the people who took part, their friends and family, can come celebrate together and support each other’s hard work. I think this has given us a lot of support widely, and with workshop distribution sending the magazine across the UK now we’ve got a lot more following which is great.

What inspired the birth of Goblin in first place?
Goblin’s inspiration came from a trip to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Galway. Sitting in the Atlantic an hour’s journey from land it’s a magical place, and a lot of inspiration can hit you. We stayed in the arts center with a friend of ours who is a musician and picked up a rad zine made by some students and thought, we should do this with skating again, even if it just turns out to be one issue. Fast forward a couple years and we’re still going strong, as well as having returned to the Aran islands to build a mini ramp for the local kids in the most picturesque place imaginable!

How would you describe the Irish skate scene?
Irelands geography and small population has often led to it having an all- island scene rather than individual cities. Whilst Dublin is the capital and has the most spots, scenes in Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Galway & Belfast have always been really strong and the communication and friendships between all these places allow for the country overall to have a really strong scene.

What is the relationship with the UK skate community?
Historically there’s always been a lot of close connections with the UK. Part of the reason we set up Goblin was to fill the void that was left once sidewalk magazine closed because they always filled their pages with Irish skateboarders, but it’s great to see skate companion and vague doing so much over here now. Unfortunately I think Brexit has given rise to some issues regarding red tape for brands & costs, it’s probably made it more difficult for companies in the UK to reach out to up and coming skaters, but skateboarders will always find a way to overcome bureaucrats.

Apart from ‘Wizard’ what were some of other Irish skatemags and what happened to them?
So The wizard had a fantastic fist issue, but the crash of 08 really smashed the skateshop’s here, particularly G1 which was the main backer of Wizard. Aside from that, Bogginzine has always been going strong thanks to Jay Doherty. He has joined Instagram in recent months and has been sharing some great videos and memories, not just about skating but about life. He is a massive inspiration for us.

‘Goblin’s inspiration came from a trip to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Galway. Sitting in the Atlantic an hour’s journey from land it’s a magical place, and a lot of inspiration can hit you.’

Inis Oirr   © Mark McGuinness

Can you tell us something about yourself?
I’m working full time in construction, and in the midst of setting up Irelands first skateboarding association, which I think will be really beneficial to getting funding for the first time for skateboarding in Ireland. So, the magazine is done in what little hours the evening holds and on weekends. But that’s where our editor Michael McMaster and Designer Aidan Moore come in to make us look professional! (laughing).

On your website you refer to ‘humorous stories’ and ‘tales of misfortune’. Can we have one for each regarding Goblin please?
So many to tell, but I think the favored one comes from issue 1, where a friend of ours was being arrested on a night of tagging, when two other taggers made a run for it and he was left standing alone in town with his hands cuffed behind his back and his board in front of him, so with little thought he decided to start pushing down the road to make a break from it as the cops had ran after the others. A very, very important ollie up a curb and a taxi cab later, he got home safe and sound to have his mother search a youtube video on how to remove handcuffs. She very kindly posted them back to the guards, without a return address of course. And the two others who eventually got arrested, overheard the guards shouting and swearing over the fact that one got away whilst being handcuffed, little did they know what form of transport he used to leg it!

What an extremely cool mother too. How do you secure finance of each and every issue?
It’s always been done by putting my own money into it, and praying we break even. We rely a lot on ticket sales to the events, because it’s so difficult to pay off the print costs, particularly now since inflation has hit everything. Though the last two years there have been a lot more artistic grants being given so we’re hopeful to get some of those, and Vans came on board last year to give us support which we’re grateful for. We’re going to be looking for some sponsors in the coming months however so that we can keep paying artists, photographers & contributors. But when the skating association is set up, the hope is that we can use some funding to make the magazine sustainable for a long time.

‘A very, very important ollie up a curb and a taxi cab later, he got home safe and sound to have his mother search a youtube video on how to remove handcuffs.’

Any specific plans with Goblin?
Currently we’re working with some councils across the country to develop new spaces that include skateboarding within them, similar to Malmö, Copenhagen, Bordeaux and along the lines of what Nottingham have achieved recently. As for the magazine, we’ve got an event planned in March 2023 with Rory Milanes flying over to perform some music as well as some of the videos above being premiered. We’ll be looking to print number 6 early/ mid-summer, and keep the events going like rose of the streets and more.

What are some of the other European skatemags that you like reading and why?
I always love reading Solo. I think their design is so on point, everything about it is aesthetically pleasing. But I have to say, Free mag in the early years was a big inspiration. I know how difficult it can be to print a magazine, and the costs incurred, so as a young skater to get a hold of a regular free magazine with interviews from all these interesting skaters across Europe was fascinating to me. Vague are always on point, I think it’s a great example of a magazine, and I’m delighted to see the guys at skate companion doing so well. A special shoutout to North however, I am so humbled at their dedication to Film photography.

I also found out that you are also an entrepreneur, boat maker, writer, and more. Is there anything left for you to do?
Well I’ve taken up an Irish language course recently along with the occasional game of Darts. But Irish winters are long, dark and wet so you always need something to preoccupy yourself with outside of the pub. We’re really struggling through the winters without an indoor park, and it’s going to stunt a lot of progression for up and coming skaters, as well as the belly’s of the older ones! So, if there was one thing id love to see in the near future it’s an indoor park, not just the skate space but somewhere people can hang out in, learn things like photography, editing etc. or have somewhere to jam and play music.

Last question. If you could interview one person, who would it be and why?
I always like to know about the lesser-known people behind the scenes. Some people go under the radar for long periods, and usually its on purpose because they don’t seek that limelight. One person I’m really intrigued by is Nils Svensson. I had the pleasure of meeting him through my friend and videographer Phil Evans last year. Malmö wouldn’t be where it is today regarding its progressive outlook on skateboarding without him, and I think they have changed the way the world will view skateboarding in years to come. Skateboarding is still so young that I don’t think its full potential for being used a social tool in communities has been fully realized yet. Something that brings people of all backgrounds together in the same space, allows people to be creative and utilize their own city in their own way, whilst being overwhelming positive for your mental and physical health is something not many other activities cover as well as skateboarding, and its people like Nils that are leading the way in those changes. Aside from skateboarding, I’d love to have a few pints with Luke Kelly or Ronnie Drew from the Dubliners if I was a couple decades younger.

‘But I have to say, Free mag in the early years was a big inspiration.’

Phili • Ollie • Concert Hall Bar   © Naoise McCarthy