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  • News

Cape Clears last full time fisherman to depart industry

Friday, 21st February, 2014 7:59pm
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Cape Clears last full time fisherman to depart industry

‘Atlantic Freedom,’ owned by Conor Ó Drisceóil, the last full-time fisherman on Cape Clear island, who is about to leave the industry.

Atlantic Freedom, owned by Conor Ó Drisceóil, the last full-time fisherman on Cape Clear island, who is about to leave the industry.

BY JACKIE KEOGH

CAPE Clear Island passed a disappointing milestone in its long history with the news of the imminent departure from the fishing industry of Conor Ó Drisceoil, the last full-time fisherman on the island.

His fine new boat, Atlantic Freedom, has long been a common sight in the North Harbour, with its frequent comings and goings, and early dawn starts on mornings fit to go to sea.

Islanders find it almost impossible to imagine that a day such as this has come to pass. One particularly lyrical islander, Séamus Ó Drisceoil, said: ‘It has sneaked up on us unawares and taken us by sad surprise.’

Although Conor and his immediate family are all too aware of the difficulties that have beset the industry in the last number of years, it is difficult for non-fishermen to understand the vagaries of the fishing industry.

But the most pertinent comment on the matter came from one particularly observant landlubber. He said: ‘It was not want of hard work and effort that brought Conor to this.’

Indeed the long, difficult and challenging hours spent by Conor and colleague, Lomax, at sea are well known locally, as is his considerable investment in fishing gear.

Séamus said: ‘His boat has been a familiar and comforting sight dancing across the length and breadth of the bay and I, for one, owe him a special debt of gratitude, having been cheerfully towed home by him when the engine in my own boat failed.

‘This,’ Séamus said, ‘was but one of many acts of kindness and neighbourliness performed by Conor over the years. We commiserate with Conor and the rest of his family as we consider the loss not just to Conor himself but a hiatus in a very long tradition of fishing from Oileán Chléire.’

Coming from such a small and clearly endangered community, Séamus said: ‘It is more than unfortunate and should be a matter for serious reflection that the island cannot offer a living at sea for such a committed and serious hard worker.

‘And yet, we continue to be besieged, as others are, seemingly unchecked by an unending wave of rules, laws, regulations and red tape in all walks of life, but especially in the fishing and farming sectors.

‘Year on year opportunities are diminished and any effort to raise ourselves and our communities up again are hampered by more and more red tape designed to protect everything it seems but community life itself.

As for Conor, we can only wish him a more prosperous future, wherever he finds himself.’

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