Monday, 30 July 2012

The Fisherman

Yeats was born in Dublin and educated there and in London, but spent his childhood holidays in County Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and its slow-paced and lyrical poems display Yeats's debts to Edmund Spenser, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the poets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. From 1900, Yeats's poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life.
The Fisherman
By William Butler Yeats 1865–1939

Although I can see him still—
The freckled man who goes
To a gray place on a hill
In gray Connemara clothes
At dawn to cast his flies—
It's long since I began
To call up to the eyes
This wise and simple man.
All day I'd looked in the face
What I had hoped it would be
To write for my own race
And the reality:
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved—
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer—
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.

Maybe a twelve-month since
Suddenly I began,
In scorn of this audience,
Imagining a man,
And his sun-freckled face
And gray Connemara cloth,
Climbing up to a place
Where stone is dark with froth,
And the down turn of his wrist
When the flies drop in the stream—
A man who does not exist,
A man who is but a dream;
And cried, “Before I am old
I shall have written him one
Poem maybe as cold
And passionate as the dawn.”

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Record catch has permanent home in Clonbur

Welshman Ceri Jones hooked a place in angling records for Lough Corrib and the Joyce Country region when he landed a 24lb trout on the lake a few miles beyond Clonbur. It’s now officially recorded as the biggest fish ever caught on the Western lakes.It has a permanent home now. On Friday night Ceri handed the fish over to Tigh Bhurca in Clonbur. This is its safe harbour forever more and no bait will lure it away again. And the big one who didn’t get away won’t be lonely either. Ciaran Burke’s wall of fame has other prize catches on display including a nineteen pounder Ceri reeled onto the Corrib shore a few years back.

Ceri is from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales. He’s been coming to this region for close on two decades. Ceri tells of his attraction to the area. “This place is the complete package for me. Between the lakes, the mountains, the beautiful scenery, the fishing but most of all the warmth and welcome of the people it has it all.” And now Ceri has given something back. “There was never a question of the fish going anywhere else. I got an opening offer of $5,000 from an American who collects such catches but I’d never even consider selling it. Clonbur is where the fish should stay and we’ve completed that part of the jigsaw by handing it over here tonight. I got local taxidermist John Thomas from Headford to stuff it and now it’s where I always want it to be.”For a day job Ceri is an angling photographer.

But it’s his telling account of the day that captures this famous fishing trip better than any film ever could. “I knew I had a big one but it’s only when or indeed if you get it in the boat that you know exactly what you have. The reel was smoking and the rod was arcing almost to the point of snapping and then it eased. “But he was still out there on the end of the line and it was only a matter of time and patience to play him. There was a north-easterly wind drifting me from Inchagoill across the main basin towards Dooras Bay. “But I knew he was coming on down the lake with me. It was only when getting him from the water to the net that I realised this could go either way. There’s a thin line (Ceri does puns too) between hero and zero. Land him and they’ll remember you forever but lose him and it was only a one ah well comment in the pub that night.”
Last Friday was another lovely night in Burke’s of Clonbur when Ceri brought the fish back to his spiritual home. Burke’s well-appointed hostelry doesn’t do pomp and ceremony and yet they get decorum spot on. Newly elected Mayor of Galway County Tom Welby travelled from Oughterard and was put upon to say a few words. As he spoke eloquently to honour the occasion Fear a Ti Eoin Burke was scanning the gathering and he also landed a prize catch. Derek Davis of RTE ‘Live at Three’ fame was visiting in the region and when Eoin asked him to add his tuppence worth Derek didn’t disappoint. His lovely speech delivered completely off the cuff went down a treat. It was pitched with humour, sincerity and the words of a man who knew his topic intimately. Clonbur listened attentively and, only pity was, he didn’t keep on talking longer.

The story of Ceri and the giant trout leads down a romantic tangent too. Ceri had far nicer catch that May weekend when he hooked Jackie Lyons from back Connemara way. It was love at first sight and they’re still looking. Where else but in Clonbur would you get such a twist on angling’s oldest yarn.
It’s the story of the one that didn’t get away.