Category Archives: Ireland

A fish in every country (plus one)

Posted by Stuart

One of my aims for the trip is to fish in every country we visit over the next year. As a precursor, we are in Kilkenny in Ireland this week to see Helen’s mum before we set off and my birthday present was a day’s salmon fishing on the nearby River Nore at the Mount Juliet estate.

Mount Juliet in Kilkenny
Mount Juliet in Kilkenny

Although I have been fishing on and off since I was 14 I have never caught a salmon despite much trying so to be honest everyone’s expectations were low.

Eddie, the gillie, and his Patterdale terrier Jack looked after me and confirmed it has been a difficult season.

Eddie and Jack
Eddie and Jack

Sure enough there was not even a sniff of a fish all morning. So after lunch I set off up river on my own.


After an hour or two I came to a lovely pool, cast a few times with my trout rod and hooked into a salmon. After a few leaps (from the fish) and much toing and froing ( by me) I eventually had to jump into the river and lift it out on to the bank. My first salmon and on the fly!!


A brief rest for a photo op before swimming back into the Nore
A brief rest for a photo op before swimming back into the Nore

Of course, it went back into the river and after a few moments it swum slowly into the pool.

And that was it- after all these years with not a soul anywhere to see it happen – just me standing there trying to believe that it really did happen, the river flowing past, the rain pouring down and a dipper, its white front bobbing up and down, on the river’s edge.

The little Dipper


By this time it was lashing down, my waders were full of water so I headed back to the hotel, a grin plastered across my face, looking for someone to tell.

Irish Road Art

Driving on the N52 to Tullamore in Offaly, we pass these four 25 feet tall figures watching from the hills overlooking the motorway.


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They are part of the Irish Per Cent for Art scheme which sees 1% of the cost of every new road in Ireland set aside to fund a piece of art. These figures are by sculptor Maurice Harron and depict the theme Saints and Scholars. One carries a chalice, the others a book, bishop’s staff and flock of birds or souls. Continue reading Irish Road Art

Hooley in the House – music or the big match


I like a bit of country music. Nothing too tragic or hardcore – say some Patsy, Dolly or the Man in Black (Johnny not Joaquim). Stuart? Not so much – unless maybe it had a ska beat.

So that’s why at the Hooley in the House music festival in Westport, he was here …behind the main stage,  watching Mayo play Dublin in Gaelic football on a big screen.

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Continue reading Hooley in the House – music or the big match

When fodder is what you crave

Sausages, mash and onion gravy

We had fish and salad in the van fridge to eat but trudging down Croagh Patrick’s holy mountain in the drizzling rain, it wasn’t the faith of our fathers keeping us going but the thought of a carb-heavy hot dinner. After an exhausting climb, it had to be something solid and comforting. The fish and salad would have to hold. And so this was the pilgrims’ dinner of choice – sausages, mounds of buttery mash and onion gravy.
Continue reading When fodder is what you crave

Climbing Croagh Patrick – August 2015

“It will take you an hour and a half to get up and two hours to get down”, said the woman in the sports shop in Westport. We were buying waterproofs ahead of our climb up Croagh Patrick, the 700 or so metre mountain in Mayo which has been a place of pilgrimage since St Patrick spent 40 days and nights there not eating and contemplating how to banish snakes from Ireland. Raingear is essential for a summer holiday in the west of Ireland (“Put the wipers on when ye get to Portumna” as the fella sez) but more especially when it is the wettest summer on record (fact courtesy of the man in the Clifden gift shop). And she was about right on timing but don’t let the photos of elderly pilgrims climbing Croagh Patrick in their bare feet fool you. It’s a hard slog going up and down.  Think steep mounds of loose shale and boulders, not grassy ‘Sound of Music’  uplands. It looks like this…

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and three-quarters of the way up…. the really bizarre sight of a display area for a company selling artificial grass. Really? Is this just a really great bit of entrepreneurial advertising or terribly bad taste? Can’t help thinking it is like something  from Father Ted.

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And while you’re here, can I interest you in an artificial lawn?

Continue reading Climbing Croagh Patrick – August 2015