BY HELEN RIDDELL
AN event due to take place at Lehanmore Community Centre this weekend will commemorate a mackerel fishing boom in Garnish Bay, Beara in the 1970s and hear the stories of those involved.
During the height of the mackerel fishing in Garnish, the local pier was a hive of activity with crates of fish stacked up awaiting collection and with fishermen landing catches and readying their boats to head out again.
During the seven year period the Garnish mackerel industry lasted, over 100 local men were involved and the event was featured in a BBC Documentary at the time, The West’s Asleep.
Paul O’Shea, chairperson of Lehanmore Community group said it was a great time for the area, particularly at a time when local farms were barely breaking even, and as a result many farmers also took to fishing to supplement their incomes. ‘For the first time people could see a future for the Garnish area and Beara in general. It gave many local farmers the means to buy a small tractor and in general people were able to make life more comfortable for themselves and the boom brought Beara in line with the rest of the country,’ he said.
Paul outlined how they endured long hours and hard work. ‘It was hard manual labour, as soon as they landed their catch they were heading straight out again.
‘The boom may have been short-lived but it left indelible memories with the locals,’ he said.
The event in Lehanmore will hear stories from the fishermen involved in the mackerel boom, as well as industries who supported it including local boat builders and haulage drivers, and will be recorded on the night by Bere Island Community Radio.
There will also be a screening of the BBC documentary.
The event takes place on Saturday, July 30th at 8pm at Lehanmore Community Centre.