Life in Darndale ponds!


DARNDALE fishing ponds have had a new lease of life following the laying of jute matting (or sackcloth) to smother and kill the highly invasive curly weed (Lagarosiphon major) that has prevented locals from fishing for almost three years.

What a transformation since my visit last November when I witnessed a weed-mass that had completely covered the entire water expanse at this north Dublin angling amenity.

The problem arose when the dreaded weed, which is found in garden fishponds and domestic fish tanks, probably found its way into the local water system and then spread into the pond.

Thanks to financial assistance of €3,000 from the Heritage Council it was possible to purchase the jute and proceed with the task of restoring the two ponds to their former standing.

The labour effort was, to say the least, intense. Up to 15 dedicated hardy souls comprising of Dublin City Council (DCC), Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), local residents and anglers braved the harsh conditions over three days to extract tons of weed, cut and lay the jute, and pin it down with concrete blocks.

“I am extremely pleased so far with the project,” Dr Joe Caffrey, senior biologist with IFI, said. “While we ran short of jute in one corner and substituted with an, as yet, unproven alternative, I hope I can beg, steal or borrow to get the proper jute to finish the job,” he said.

However, as this is the first project in an urban environment, Dr Caffrey said he could not give guarantees it will be a success. “Certainly, our experience on Lough Corrib with similar problems has worked extremely well,” he added.

Maryann Harris, DCC senior parks superintendent of bio-diversity, who played a leading role in the project, said lessons learnt at Darndale will stand in good stead for similar problems that exist in other Dublin locations including Bushy Park.

Harris also emphasised the importance of preserving the wildlife at Darndale that presently caters for coots and mallards nesting on the island. In addition, she is anxious to see the return of the native weed (Nitella flexilis) to enhance the character of the ponds and provide cover.

Remarkably, throughout the prolonged ordeal and recent upheaval, a good head of carp and rudd continue to survive. During my visit last Wednesday, several fish splashed and rose to fly-life and appeared to be enjoying their new surroundings.

Local resident and angler Jerry Jarvis praised the efforts of DCC, IFI and all who gave their time and energy free of charge in restoring this valuable and important amenity to the local community. “We hope to be back fishing around Christmas with a stock of bream, tench, carp, rudd and later on, perhaps hybrids,” he said.

The two ponds (large and small), built in 1999 under the Urban Regeneration Programme, have provided a valuable outlet for the youth and adults in the area. “We have a membership of 1,200 youngsters and hosted many fishing competitions here,” Brian Conneely of the local Sphere 17 youth service, said.

* I really enjoyed fishing two local competitions on the remaining days of the season on Lough Conn, Co Mayo, last weekend. On Saturday I fished the Kieran Lynn Memorial Cup out from Gerry Murphy’s Boat Hire at Massbrook.

Fish were hard to come by, as John Burke and I tested Massbrook Bay and Colman’s Shallows. We boated six undersized fish and one “keeper” for John. Martin Foley, Dublin, won €500 first prize with a fish of 1kg from Browns Bay on a Green Peter.

Next day I took part in the long-standing Jackson Cup competition, also out from Massbrook, and hosted by Castlebar Anglers since 1934. Taking a ”pit stop” to view the All-Ireland Hurling final, 31 anglers brought in 12 fish. Jim Ruane, Castlebar, took top honours with a trout of 0.9kg (2lb). My thanks to chairman Kevin Beirne for a wonderful day on the lake.

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