The Mayfly is Up – Never Forgotten

The Mayfly is up. Four words that cause many a missed heartbeat when heard for the first time each
year. Straight away you think of past years, and you think when can I get going? Never forgotten.
One small fly provoking such action and emotion for generations. Your parents, your grandparents,
yourself, your kids, all part of it. Kids selling flies from boxes which had been used by their parents,
just as they did in their time- €2 per dozen with a few for luck. “They’re not dead, they’re only
asleep”. Special fisherman’s lunch offer- sandwich, Tayto and a drink €5. Gents and Ghillies, tanks of
petrol, and rods sticking out car windows. Never forgotten.
Some in Barbour and Hunters, others in Aran jumper and Portwest, all moving with common
purpose and good humour. Fishing the leveller. Never forgotten.
Into the boat, sit down, and stay quiet. Never forgotten.
That’s where I straightened my hook in a fish, that’s where we landed 20 trout in a day, that’s the
last place we fished together. Never forgotten.
Always the possibility, always the chance. Drifting with fair wind, and the possibility at any moment
of a splash, or the fly silently disappearing underwater by an unseen force. Counting down the
seconds before you strike and the line runs off the reel. Is he big or small? No sign yet, around the
back of the boat, rod bent, line running, sun blinding as you reach for the net. Trout breaks surface,
jumps and is gone. What harm? New flies, and the possibility is still there. Another rise, big fish,
strike, around the back of the boat, fish jumps, it’s a salmon. Heart pounding, into the boat. Never
Burnt from the sun bouncing of the lake. Soaked through the oil skins from rain. Too wild to go out,
too calm to go out. Never forgotten.
The smell of the fearnóg and the ash from the lunch fires on the wind. Scalding hot tea in the shelter
of the island. Steak, sausages, burgers, and onions burnt to a crisp on the pan. I can almost smell it
now. Never forgotten.
You know that boat over there by the colour. You wave to every boat that passes and they wave
back. Never forgotten.
Motoring home, quietly thinking, the sun setting on Na Beanna Beola and the Maam Valley, boats all
around. Some staying out for a while longer. Everyone tired and content. There are people talking
and reminiscing about this in Dublin, New York, London, and Sydney. How lucky are we. Never
Bars and restaurants full. Everyone an expert at a sport that anyone can do. Every table laughing,
and enjoying the craic. The ones that got away are as important as the ones that are landed. They
are all part of the story. Never forgotten.
Thinking back 50 years to national school learning “I am a little mayfly” and “The cremation of Sam
McGee” for the school play. Both equally important. Never forgotten.
Thinking of all who were old then and long gone now. We were kids then and could only do what we
were told. We did not know that we were learning to keep it alive. We’re in charge now and we
must not allow it to die. Never forgotten.
May 2020. The mayfly is up and we are in lockdown. They will have an easy time of it this year.
Never forgotten.