Angling Notes: Kelleher takes the toast at Vintner’s championships on Lough Mask

Minister gives funding of €30,000 for 87 angling events and initiatives during 2019 to support novice anglers and angling tourism


Ballinrobe angler Denis Kelleher added another string to his bow at last week’s 18th Vintner’s Open Fly Fishing Championships on Lough Mask with a convincing win against a field of 124 anglers from across Ireland and beyond.

Originally from Co Clare, Kelleher is perhaps best known as the voice which greets and relays proceedings during the five-day world cup championships at Cushlough Bay on Mask each year.

For the 50th anniversary of the event in 2003, he penned a splendid 128-page book entitled Another World on Mask, rendering a year-on-year account of proceedings dating from 1953 – and there were many anecdotes.

In 1959 the American ambassador Scott McLeod participated but unfortunately failed to qualify, and in 1977 actor Robert Shaw, who resided in nearby Tourmakeady, attended the festival.

Perhaps the highlight came in 1994 when the president of Ireland Mary Robinson got proceedings under way at Cushlough. A plaque commemorating the occasion is mounted on the clubhouse premises.

Therefore it comes as no surprise that Kelleher, with 50 years of fishing Mask, has won almost every competition at some stage, including the European Cup on two occasions. (However, the world cup still alludes him!)

Last week his attention turned to the SuperValu-sponsored Vintner’s two-day midweek competition, with the focal point centred at Burke’s award-winning restaurant and bar in Clonbur, Co Galway. Paired with Mike O’Shea from Kerry, the two fished the deeps adjacent to Devinish Island on both days.

At close of play Kelleher returned four fish from day one and three on day two, sufficient to win the championships with a total weight of 3.733kg. His boating partner O’Shea took third position with six fish for 3.235kg while Kanturk angler and main sponsor Michael Twohig of SuperValu, caught seven trout for second place with 3.436kg.

On a poignant note, prior to start of the second day at Cushlough Bay, the late Sean Maloney’s ashes were scattered on Mask by his nephews Robbie O’Grady jnr and Kenneth O’Grady followed by prayers and a moment of reflection. To recall, Sean drowned following a boating accident earlier this year.

Over dinner and presentation of prizes in Burke’s a collection for the Corrib/Mask Search and Rescue Unit raised €870, which was gratefully accepted by Niall O’Meachair and Pat Egan.

“We are a voluntary group and with no funding from government rely solely on donations and fundraising. I would like to assure all present should you get into trouble on the water we will be on hand to help,” O’Meachair said.

Finally, congratulations are extended to Tómas Burke and the organising committee for their input into making the competition such a huge success. Go raibh míle maith agat.

Grant funding

The Minister with responsibility for inland fisheries, Sean Canney, has granted funding of €30,000 towards 87 angling events and initiatives across the country during 2019 to support novice anglers and angling tourism.

The National Strategy for Angling Development sponsorship programme, under the auspices of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), is supporting 45 competitions, 37 coaching/juvenile events and five public awareness events and angling-related initiatives.

“We hope an additional 600 novice anglers will try the sport, and over 1,500 experienced anglers will take part in competitions as a direct result of this sponsorship programme,” the Minister said.

Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of IFI, added: “This is our sixth year in a row of providing €30,000 in grants to help those who are partaking in angling for the first time, and to support the community in promoting our wonderful angling product.”

For a list of projects and initiatives receiving funding, visit

Lough Corrib

A weekly round-up of catches on Lough Corrib reported mixed angling for Larry McCarthy of Corrib View Lodge, with many guests struggling and some catching good fish. Craig Freas from the USA over two days boated four trout up to 4.5lb and father and son Dave and Dave Kent had six, also over two days.

In the Cornamona area, Tom “Doc” Sullivan guided brothers Craig and Chris Oliver who caught three fish, best 4.5lb on a pink daddy. Basil Shields in the Oughterard area said Peter Howe boated five trout, Eddie Spillane Cork had four on wets for his visit to Corrib, and Peter Boyle had five, best 3lb.

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