Angling Notes: Putting Lanesborough back on the international stage

 

In an effort to put Lanesborough back onto the international stage as one of the finest coarse angling venues, the Lough Ree North Angling Hub is gearing up for an eventful and busy season this year.

In the 1970s and ’80s, the area was a Mecca for coarse anglers who travelled from many parts of the world to sample the superb fishing facility. However, in the last 20 years or so, the push to maintain this standard has sadly dwindled.

Having spent some time recently viewing and assessing the location, I have no doubt the hub committee, with their revitalised dedication and enthusiasm to the cause, will achieve their goal.

“Not only have we set the bar high this year, it is very important that we create a legacy for years to come,” marketing hub strategist, RTÉ’s Ciarán Mullooly, said.

The River Shannon and Lough Ree are the jewels in the crown in this endeavour and both virtually straddle Lanesborough on the Longford side with its population of about 1,000 and Ballyleague on the Roscommon side, population around 750.

First up on the event guide for this year is an international coarse competition on June 4th to 6th (Whit Weekend). This event will be held at three locations: the hot water stretch at Lanesborough; Kilnacarrow (a secluded area 3km upstream of Lanesborough) and Strokestown.

The three-day competition is sponsored by Bord na Móna and limited to 42 entrants on a first-come first-served basis. Entry fee is €25. There are nine daily prizes, with the overall winner receiving €3,000. For bookings, see loughreeanglinghub@gmail.com.

Then on the first weekend of July and August, the hub will host trials on Lough Ree for the Irish qualifiers for the Confédération Internationale Peche Sportif-Ed (CIPS) world championships in October.

In September, the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland (NCFFI) has again chosen Lough Ree at Lanesborough as the venue for the Irish Predator Boat Championships.

The big one, of course, is the World Predator Boat Championships scheduled for October 5th to 10th. Already 15 countries have signed up to attend, with in excess of 200 competitors and their entourages guaranteed to swell the town to capacity.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the committee has squeezed in a Lakelands International Food and Craft Festival in the marquee in the town car park during the world championships.

For my visit I was joined by Michael Flanagan from Midland Topic and Sunday World, and Cathal Hughes, former world runner-up pairs’ coarse champion.

Over the two days, we spent time fishing and assessing most of the stretches marked out for the competitions and found them all formidable venues with the exception of access to Kilnacarrow. However, I understand this will be rectified very soon.

Our stay was in the formidable Convent Guest House in Lanesborough town centre. Once, as its name suggests, a former convent and now completely refurbished by new owners Claire Webb and her husband.

The Convent has eight double en-suite and two single rooms, spacious breakfast room, parking facilities and comfortable guest room (with piano). Rates are very reasonable (conventbnb@gmail.com).

The town also boasts the Sisters Bistro Restaurant, Swan Tavern Bar and Restaurant and numerous bars with traditional music sessions.

Across the river in Ballyleague is the award-winning PS Red Restaurant. Evening dinner here was a memorable experience. For starters, I opted for Kataifi wrapped tiger pawns tossed in cumin and paprika served with mango salsa. For main course, pan fried salmon served on a bed of champ with buttered asparagus, seared scallop and Beurre Blanc G.

Although my stay was relatively short, I have no doubt that the committee, under chairman, Hugh Keane and his dedicated team, will fulfil the calendar of events and put the area back on the international map for fishing.

Before leaving, I met with Patrick “Junior” Hannon who plans to kayak with six colleagues from Lanesborough to Limerick in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. Sponsorship cards are already in circulation and a website is setup at mycharity.ie.

The journey is expected to take four days, starting out at the bridge on Friday, May 27th, with overnight stopovers along the way. “We hope to have up to 50 kayaks joining us at various stages and our target is to raise at least €5,000,” he said.

Junior would like to thank the Canoe Centre, Mill Lane, Palmerstown, Co Dublin for sponsoring all his equipment including a new €2,000 kayak, paddles, etc.

Conn fly competition

To secure your place, contact Orla at 087-2144395 or Pádraic at 086-6052687.

angling@irishtimes.com

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