Carrantuathail February 2016
Stephanie Johnson on Facebook
Fishing as a Livelihood in Times Gone By
Photo: Liam OHainnín
From Shannonside Annual 1956
A Beale Fisherman by
“Beale Bar Herrings! Beale Bar Herrings!- at one time the
tune of most fishmongers in Kerry. The Beale Bar herring was to Kerry what the
Dublin Bay catch is to the Dublin Market. It is, however a maxim that is heard no more, for that quiet little country
place on the last bend in The Shannon as it meets the sea, is losing the fish
that made it famous and its fishermen too.
Beale Bar, that dreaded reef known to mariners the world
over, has gripped many a ship in its granite teeth, from the days of the frail
Thetis to the grand Oceanis of a few years ago. It was here the Beale fisherman
steered his currach.
The middle of the last century saw the fishermen of the
Beale coast reaping a profitable harvest from those waves, and up to The Boathouse came many a laden curragh. Those curraghs handed down from generation
to generation, their origin lost in time, have been known to brave many a
stormy night. For the Beale fisherman often rowed far from home into the night,
his fishing grounds bounded by Ballybunion in the west, Limerick city in the
east and then the Clare coast, Kilcreduan to Clonderla Bay. He could tick off
in an instant for you all those placenames in the tongue his fathers spoke;
Poll na mBó, Bun na Clugga, Portín, Poll Shuilleabháin, Barr na hArd. This was
the fishing ground of his fathers and their fathers for centuries.
And the names of those who rowed the Shannon remained
constant too from generation to generation – as constant as the placenames
themselves; Carmodys, Mulvihills, Hennessys, Kennellys and Hannons.
About six in the evening you would see them converging on
The Boathouse. There the nets were mended, the boats repaired and everything
got ready for the night. While they mended their nets, they talked the
fisherman’s talk. They were in time for the “flood time’, a quick flowing ebb
current off the Beale shore. The location of the herring shoals and the
prospects for the night were discussed. There, around the boathouse lay from eight
to ten curraghs, face downward on the sand or on their wooden stands. The
Boathouse took its name from the Guards boathouse which was near at hand.
The curraghs are lifted to the water in the traditional
manner on the shoulders of the fishermen, nets are put on board and fishermen
row to their various fishing grounds. Luck may be with them tonight. Old men
tell of seeing forty curraghs fishing the Shannon long years ago in the dusk of
a harvest evening.
The boatmen shoot their nets, one man pulling out the net,
the other rowing. Various hauls are made in different directions as tide and
counter tide ebb and flow. Sometimes the luck is good and money is made: Weeks,
however, may go by without a salmon striking. Here is the real test of patience
and tenacity. Often was an old seasoned fisherman been heard to say, after a bad season, “I’ll never go out
again.” But wait till next season comes
round. He’ll be there again. Fishing is in his blood and he must go.
The salmon has been fished extensively in Beale for well
over 100 years. The drft net was first introduced there by a Scotsman, who also
had three stake weirs on Beale Strand. The salmon fishing has followed a
pattern much the same as the herring. Years ago the local fisherman did well
and in their season from February to July they earned enough in addition to a
little home industry to give them a comfortable living. Today a visitor to
Beale strand during the fishing season will find one curragh and a crew of two
men. Once there were eight or ten curraghs
and twenty families of fishing folk.
The fisher boats are coming in out of the night to the tune
of the seagulls call and the slow steady lap of the oars. It has been a
fair-good night. The tired fishermen are happy. Their wives and families are waiting
for them in the sandhills around the shore. The curraghs are carried on weary
shoulders to The Boathouse. The Boathouse has memories for the aged fisherman
as he thinks of the bustle he saw around here in his boyhood, the men he knew
and worked with down the years, the storms braved- old times gone like the
wreck seaweed on the ebbing tide. The seagulls float overhead and give their
weird calls as if calling on time that were. And as the fishermen trudge their
way homeward, their footsteps trace a pattern on the timeless sands. So it has
been for centuries.
Date for the diary
“Fealeside Players present “WIDOWS PARADISE” for 6 nights commencing on Tuesday the 23rd of February 2016 to Sunday the 28th of February 2016. Tickets available from St. John’s Theatre Listowel on tel no. 068 22566.
Ticket Pricing €12 and Concession price €10.”
Then and Now
The Year of The Monkey
Photo: Scoil Realt na Maidine on Facebook
Scoil Realt na Maidine invited a local family to come into school and talk to them about the Chinese New Year. The boys learned about Chinese culture and they learned a few words of the language.
Another Win for Clodagh
Thirteen year old Clodagh Murphy won a silver medal in the Under 16 Scór competition at the weekend.