Tag Archives: eels

An eels update, updated

Pat Rabbitte’s reply to Michael Colreavy; thanks to KildareStreet.

Update 6 February 2014: Fergus O’Dowd [FG, Louth] responded to the Dáil’s most famous canoeist, Ming Flanagan [Ind, Roscommon/South Leitrim], the Rockville navigator, with some more information about eels.

Wind and eels

Interesting BBC story about a possible cause for the decline in the number of eels.

Eel update

Thanks to KildareStreet.ie for drawing our attention to a useful update, in a Dáil written answer, on the state of Ireland’s eels and the eel management plan.

Two brief notes about eels

Fr Oliver Kennedy, of the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Cooperative Society, which ran the eel fishery [PDF], has died at the age of 83.

The ESB eel-catching apparatus at Killaloe Bridge is being renewed (and not, as I feared, removed). Eels are caught now only to be transported around Ardnacrusha. Read about the fishery here and, at greater length, here.

Shannon eels

I have a page about the Shannon eel fishery here.

In April 2012 Frank Feighan TD asked many Dáil questions about the Shannon eel fishery; the answers provide a useful update to (and expansion of) the information on my page.

Lough Neagh

On 17 April 2012 the Northern Ireland Assembly held an enlightening debate about Lough Neagh and its future and ended by resolving

That this Assembly calls on the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to convene a working group to explore and pursue actively the potential for a cross-departmental approach to bring Lough Neagh back into public ownership.

The report is here. It is well worth reading by anyone wanting an understanding of the management of the largest lake in These Islands.


Inland fisheries

There was an important debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly on this subject yesterday. While the salmon received much of the attention, the state of the Lough Neagh eel fishery was also discussed.

Anguilla anguilla: the ESB eel fishery

This photo shows an eel spear from the National Folklife Collection‘s overflow material, stored in the former “reformatory” at Daingean, on the Grand Canal in Co Offaly. There were many spears there, with different designs from different rivers. This one, to judge from the label underneath it, came from the extraordinarily prolific and observant Dr A E J Went.

If you look at pretty well any Irish river on the 1840s Ordnance Survey map (here’s the Shannon at Killaloe; switch to Historic 6″ if necessary), or indeed on the 1900s map (same URL but switch to Historic 25″), you’ll find evidence of eel weirs. Ireland’s shortest canal was built to allow the eel-boats of Anthony Mackey’s fleet to reach the trains at Banagher.

But the European eel is a “critically endangered species” and all eel fishing has been banned in Ireland. As far as I know, though, the Lough Neagh fishery, in Northern Ireland, continues.

The Electricity Supply Board (ESB) is in charge of the eel fishery on the River Shannon. It has nets and a storage unit (packing station) at Killaloe and, until recently, it also had nets at Clonlara on the headrace supplying the power station at Ardnacrusha; the Clonlara nets have just been removed. This page is about the Clonlara and Killaloe operations, but includes a look at an eel survey conducted for the ESB in 2008, before eel fishing was banned in Ireland. The aim now is to make it easy for eels to reach the sea to reproduce, and that sometimes involves “trap and transport”: catching the eels and moving them past obstacles, whether on their way to the sea or, for the young glass eels, on their way upriver.

The photos on this page are a tribute to what was an important activity on the Shannon. I hope that the European eel stocks can recover.

Ireland’s shortest canal?

What may have been Ireland’s shortest canal was at Banagher in Co Offaly; it was used to carry eels to the railway station. Here is a brief account of it.