Happy Days

Fishing memories flood back in these times of cocooning and lockdown and
happy memories they are too. I remember my first fishing rod made for me by John Barry a
keen fisherman neighbour and family friend. It was made from Bamboo, lettuce wire rings taped on with sticky to the touch black electrical tape and bigger than myself at nearly seven feet. The reel, aluminium “trotting style’ I bought for two shillings and trupence in Johnny Kavanagh’s at the West Gate. Years later I mentioned to Johnny that I still had the reel he replied that I got a
bargain it should not have lasted that longall of fifty years. I still have it.
Eels were caught a plenty at the back of St Mary’s Church in Irishtown a “goes with the job of altar boy” spot denied to mere mortals. From worm I soon graduated to the fly
and bubble which was cast with difficulty from the two and trupenny reel until I got a spinning rod and reel when my Dad came home from the Congo. The Convent Bridge and the Green now became our prime touting spots. Acquiring a fly rod and reel et at from money earned with the 3rd Motor Squadron on Summer Camp at the Curragh, our fishing went further afield to
Knocklofty which still holds its magic.
Dublin in the late 60s did not offer many opportunities but the attraction never wanes. Once teaching discovered that many pupils were not interested in the school obsession with rugby so I started a fishing club. Tying the lads up in knots and knowhow. Rory’s in
Templebar became our regular “stop off and reload expedition” on our, school laden van, journeys to Prosperous. The Kindness of Ned Farrell who came along the banks of the canal explaining
and demonstrating techniques to each of the boys, is still fondly remembered, no less than by
myself who had never coarse fished before. The reason I chose the Canal to fish was that at a
glance I could check that all the boys were present and correct and above all above water!
On holidaying in the West salmon fishing on the Moy became a must. Stretches along Foxford brought a strange excitement and unexpected meetings with native and foreigner. One
rain soaked episode ended up with a discussion about unruly pupils with Marcel a French
enthusiast whether of fishing or teaching I am still not sure but we were on the Moy that was all that mattered. Having watched Jack Charlton get the slagging of his life after catching an eel at the Ridge Pool I decided to purchase a permit for the Verschoyle Fishery just above the pool.
After a half hour or so of fishing with worm to my surprise and that of the “leaning on the wall fishermen” above me I “was in”.
With the kind help of another fisherman I managed to land a beautiful springer of about six or
seven pounds. As is my wont I always return the first fish of the year, at times its my only fish of the year, to whence it came. The chorus of knowledge and criticism soon began above. ” Jeez
what you do that for?” .” He mustn’t have a permit or a licence!” “Another know it all why did he take it out if he was going to put it back in. Some fellows!” An old pipe smoking gentleman
made my day when he smiled and said” Mai the fear thus! Beidh a leithead ann aris!” which I took to mean well done there will be more[salmon] again.
Perhaps one of the most satisfying memories of all was when I arrived at the canal and asked a fellow in his forties “was there anything doing?” and was answered with ” Sir you don’t
recognise me from the school trips”. I was introduced to his two sons who were also ensconced along the bank all hooked on fishing. After hearing that others were still engaged fishing
although scattered near and far I did to be truthful congratulate myself on a job well done and days well spent.
Now while not exactly in my dotage after cocooning I fell like shouting” Are we there yet! Are we there yet?”.