The grunts of Lough Neagh

In The Cookin’ Woman: Irish country recipes (Blackstaff Press, Belfast and Dover New Hampshire, facsimile edition 1986), Florence Irwin says of Lough Neagh:

This lake, 153 square miles, has always provided much sea-food. Eeels [sic], pollan, trout, grunts and their elderly relatives, perch, to mention the most common fish eaten by the loughsiders and sold by them.

No doubt that is true for certain values of “sea”.

She says that the (Irish) pollan is found only in Lough Neagh, but that does not seem to be true. I had not come across the grunt before: earlier, in her chapter on soups, Ms Irwin has a recipe, from Moortown, for grunt soup, which requires 1 dozen grunts; she explains that

Grunts are the young of perch.

Seamus Heaney says

Perch we called “grunts” …

which suggests that perch are grunts or vice versa. Wikipedia says

The grunts are a family, Haemulidae, of fishes in the order Perciformes.

The taxonomy set out on its page about Perciformes suggests a relationship between grunts and perch that is more complex than either Ms Irwin or Mr Heaney allows, but says

Classification is controversial.

I am left wondering whether there are still grunts in Lough Neagh and, if so, whether they are of the Haemulidae family or whether the name is simply used locally for perch, young or old.

Here is a page about the Lough Neagh fisheries.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s