26.09.2006 Crom Castle - Ballyconnell - Haughton Shore
Length of boat trip: 5 hours
A foggy morning. The Gad Tower is shrouded in haze. We have not seen it like this before. We go on the river Woodford with a high water level upstream to Ballyconnell. Although the morning was dry, the weather gets wet in the afternoon. Nevertheless, we drive from the flybridge. The jetty before Lock 3 is completely underwater and a Ranger of WI sluices us. Also the low jetty at Haughton Shore is flooded. In the evening the weather becomes settled.
27.09.2006 Haughton Shore
Length of boat trip: 1.5 hours
The morning starts mild and dry at first. The weather forecast announces a storm. After breakfast we take a good long trip through Lough Garadice. The wind freshens up and we enjoy riding the waves. Rain starts and we decide to have a day of rest at Haughton Shore. The shower on board is inviting. The shower cabin is comfortable with a seat as comfortable as a wing chair. This entices the oldest member of our crew to have a shower wearing slippers! As the slippers dry in the wind, an eel fisher arrives from Kesh at the Lower Lough Erne with the catch of the week. He temporarily deposits the eels into nets in the water at the slipway. He offers some for me to buy but I decline with thanks.
Eel fisher after eel fisher arrive with their special trailers for transporting living eels from the broader environs of Cavan and other northern counties to market them. A truck of a Dutch company arrives also and the marketing starts.
The eels are weighed and filled into the water tanks of the truck. Some try to escape but are immediately caught by the men. When they have finished the men have a chat behind the truck. The water tank is not closed yet on the top and one eel jumps out of it unnoticed by the men. He knows the right ways to the water and after five minutes he manages to reach it.
The wind increases and the storm comes. The single handed “Mirabelle” from Enniskillen, a small old boat from the forties arrives. A small hired boat with a cool couple moor behind it. They spend the evening smoking pot and listening to very loud music till late in the night. We are far away from them but the two boats behind us are not.
Irish eel exports, dioxin and the worldwide decline of this species
Irish eels are mainly exported to the Netherlands and Germany.
I remember that some years ago the catch of eels in parts of the Netherlands was banned after they had found too much dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyl in them. At home in the Lower Rhine we have the same problems with dioxin poisoned eels.
Meanwhile the population of eels worldwide decreases and we know that the European limits for dioxin are reasonable o.k. for consumption but have a negative effect to the fertilisation of eels (Maybe for humans too?). Scientists at the University of Leiden are researching the effects of dioxin to the fertilisation of eels.
In Europe the eels in Sardinia and in the west of Ireland have the lowest concentration of dioxin. In the end of the nineties, the Irish government planned to increase the export of eels from 250 tons to several thousand annually. But the eel population decreases also in Ireland (Republic and Northern Ireland).
28.09.2006 Haughton Shore - Ballyconnell - Quivvy Waters
Length of boat trip: 5.4 hours
The stormy wind has decreased over night. At first the single handed “Mirabelle” starts and her skipper toots a farewell on a big seashell to the loud couple of yesterday. The second boat sends them a morning salutation with the horn when leaving and we do the same later.
Willi is angling during the drive and he gives the rod to my mother for a moment. The rod jerks and my mother catches the first pike of her life!
We carry on to Ballyconnell with some sunny spells.
Just before Ballyconnell a working boat of Waterways Ireland blocks the river. The trees along the Woodford are being cut. We turn around and wait in the current till they wave us through a small gap and we go through, out of gear.
Today my parents go shopping in Ballyconnell.
In the afternoon we go further on down. I look forward to the beautiful part of the Woodford, which awaits us but that what we see there is not beautiful. Some hundreds of metres before the Corraquill Lock, we meet an oil spill, which is present until Crom Castle. We spend the evening in the Quivvy Waters in a depressed mood.
More about the oil incident on the Woodford and what a holiday boater in Ireland can do about it can be read here.