By Ian Brophy, Galway Civic Trust


On this day, 23 April, 1937, a Salmon was caught in the traps on the Galway Fishery. This specimen fish weighed in at 43 lbs, was 4 ft in length and 27 inches in girth.
The Galway Fishery is a severed (several) or exclusive fishery, situated in both tidal and fresh waters, stretching from Lough Corrib to the sea. The fishery has a very long history, with the first documented reference to it in 1283 during the reign of King Edward 1 of England. But there was fishing on the river Corrib before that time. There is evidence of fishing activities on the banks of the Corrib as far back as 8,000 years ago.


In 1852, the fishery was purchased by Thomas and Edmund Ashworth for the sum of £5,000. These 2 brothers were responsible for the development of the fishery; and were very active in turning the fishery into a commercial enterprise. They had the Fishery Watchtower built; primarily as a draft netting station; but it also served as a watch tower to observe the salmon coming up river, and the activities of illegal poachers. They also built the Ice House and the Fishery Cottage further along the bank of the river. They also introduced fish hatcheries, weirs, traps, and other forms of specialised fishing methods. They developed salmon traps, or ‘cribs’ at the weir, which had a 6-metre opening to allow a percentage of fish access to the river. This was known as the ‘King’s Gap’ or the ‘Queen’s Gap’, depending on who sat on the throne of England. These cribs were checked regularly. The Ice House was built to prolong the freshness of the fish, and this, along with the arrival of the railway system to Galway in 1851, allowed the brothers to develop an export market in London. Fish caught on a Monday could be on sale the following day in Billingsgate Fish market in London. At times, ice was brought to the Ice House from American ships arriving into Galway port.


It is possible that the vaulted Ice House was constructed from bricks which acted as ballast on ships coming into Galway’s port. This appears to be the case with the Fishery Watchtower also; making these 2 buildings the earliest eco-friendly buildings in Galway today.
The Fishery was purchased by the Irish State in 1978, and the cribs were finally abandoned in 1998.


The specimen Salmon; all of 43 lbs weight, 4 ft length and 27 inches in girth; probably went straight to the vaulted Ice House. But it never made it to London, it never ended up in some fancy hotel or restaurant. Instead, it ended up in the rather salubrious surroundings of the Zoological Department of University College, Galway; to which the Salmon was donated.


On this day, 23 April, 1937; a specimen Salmon was noticed in the cribs by a gentleman of the name, Tom Conneely. His grandson, Tommy Conneely, is a Volunteer with the Galway Civic Trust. While young Tommy is not a fisherman, he can tell some wonderful tales. Pop in for a chat with him, he is in Druid Lane; he would love to see you. Just make sure to bring a good pinch of salt with you.!


On this day, 23 April, 1937, a Salmon was caught in the cribs on the Galway Fishery!


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