The Lure of Fish

SONY DSC

It is the time of year when the Salmon rivers in Ireland and Scotland begin opening for the season.  Scotland in particular makes a big splash of the opening of the rivers.  Whiskey is poured as a libation before the first flies of the season are cast.

Then it is all about the records.  First fish of the season, largest salmon of the day/ week/ month/ river/ region.  There are never larger fish caught than the ones that got away.  The life of a fisherman is a life of imagination, what might be and what might have been.  The fish you actually caught are almost a throwaway to fortune, because they only represent the thin edge of what might one day be.

I recall standing in front of a large board of lures like the one above in a fishing shop in Dublin.  I asked the shopkeeper which lures were the best for catching trout.  He replied that he didn’t know about catching trout, but he could tell me which were the best lures for catching anglers.

THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS: by W.B. Yeats

I WENT out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

Jim Hourihane and Salmon eile.

Fionn-Mc-painting

My father in law, Jim Hourihan, passed away this day last week.

Jim was the perfect example of how one person can influence the lives of hundreds of people. He was a true entrepreneur, who created wealth from thin air. He was the consummate salesman. An inventor, father to his children, father to those not his children!

I will probably never again meet a man so full of ideas. More importantly he could realise those ideas and create businesses. A practical and empirical person, he learned his mechanical engineering skills the old way, by building engines. When it came to mechanical theory he could baffle the finest academic minds with theoretically challenging but physically obvious reasoning.

He understood something that is crucial to entrepreneurship. A concept that is not taught in business courses in university; that money is not a physical resource, it is a belief system. If a businessman is limited by the availability of funding nothing will ever be achieved. If you can grasp the concept that finance is more a belief than a reality you can leverage great things and create wealth where none existed.

He was born in West Cork on a thriving Salmon River; the Owvane in Carrickanass near Kealkill.   Hence the picture of Fionn Mac Cumhaill above.  Fionn was with the Druid who caught the legendary Salmon of Knowledge.  While cooking the fish Fionn burned his thumb and sucked it, and so became the first to taste the fish and gain wisdom.  A fitting metaphor for a very smart man who grew up catching salmon.

Nobody will ever claim him as a saint. Jim was famous in Thurles Golf Club as a man who could walk into an empty room and cause an argument. He loved his Golf and was good at it. You will find his name on the honour roll of the club. He was proud of his role in preserving the old clubhouse. He analysed the game of golf with his keen mind, and became a coach to many, myself included.
Jim is one of those people who connected together a broad and diverse congregation of followers. In his absence many of those links will be lost, and the world will be a smaller and lonelier place.

A Boy and his Dad; by Edgar Guest
A boy and his dad on a fishing-trip—
There is a glorious fellowship!
Father and son and the open sky
And the white clouds lazily drifting by,
And the laughing stream as it runs along
With the clicking reel like a martial song,
And the father teaching the youngster gay
How to land a fish in the sportsman’s way.

I fancy I hear them talking there
In an open boat, and the speech is fair.
And the boy is learning the ways of men
From the finest man in his youthful ken.
Kings, to the youngster, cannot compare
With the gentle father who’s with him there.
And the greatest mind of the human race
Not for one minute could take his place.

Which is happier, man or boy?
The soul of the father is steeped in joy,
For he’s finding out, to his heart’s delight,
That his son is fit for the future fight.
He is learning the glorious depths of him,
And the thoughts he thinks and his every whim;
And he shall discover, when night comes on,
How close he has grown to his little son.

A boy and his dad on a fishing-trip—
Builders of life’s companionship!
Oh, I envy them, as I see them there
Under the sky in the open air,
For out of the old, old long-ago
Come the summer days that I used to know,
When I learned life’s truths from my father’s lips
As I shared the joy of his fishing-trips.