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Karen Bies

2018-07-13 10:30 — Dublin, Ireland

Belmullet #5 Fishermen

A major fisherman’s disaster occurred in October 1927, the 'Cleggan Bay disaster'. There was a storm all along the West coast. It came suddenly and without warning. The local fishermen were out in their curraghs fishing for Herring. Forty five fishermen drowned in the sea that night. Ten were from the Inishkea Islands. It left the Islands without its fittest able bodied men, only children and the eldery remained. ‘The heart and soul was torn out of the Iniskeas’ Ian McAndrew says. The new Irish government then brought the remaining population off the islands and settled them on the mainland. Since then only the birds live there. 

Ian drives us to the port of Blacksod, in Gaelic: 'An Fód Dubh'. It’s in the lee of the great peninsula Mullet and is therefore a safe anchorage. At storm ships from the Atlantic Ocean come here to anchor. 

Lobster traps are on the quay. They belong to three fishermen, Kevin Monaghan and the brothers Philip and Declan Lavelle. Ian says, 'This is Karen. She comes from Friesland. You know, the Frisian cows.’ The men nod. ‘She's a journalist and she writes blogs,’ Ian explains. 'Although I didn’t know what a blog was, up to now. Karen is interested in our culture.’ So what a shame the Heritage Centre in Each Leim is closed today, and it in the high summer season. 

The fishermen also feel bad about it. This morning a bus came here with tourists. They got out of the bus, but soon departed again. There is nothing to do here. Everywhere on the harbour is clutter because there is no trash can. The lighthouse is nice, but you can not go in there. There is no coffee available here. Philip Lavelle says: ‘By the way, there are not even toilets. A man always finds a place, but for women there should be a toilet here.' 

We agree that the tourism facilities could be better. 

The fishermen mention the large fishing cutters of the Netherlands, that fish a lot off the Irish coast. They look at me. I look at their boats moored at the quay. Only ten meters long, but passed from father to son, so they must be strong and reliable. The three men themselves seem to me safe also. I almost say that I want to go fishing with them once. But then I think of the waves around the corner of Blacksod and I contain myself.