In this, the final episode of Lough Neagh, Joe Mahon spends a lot of time out on the choppy waters of the lough. His first port of call is with the McNally family who fish out of their harbour near Gawley’s Gate on the Antrim shore. Gerry McNally and his son Daniel are longline eel fishermen and Gerry can point to a family tradition going back several generations. Longline fishing is extremely labour-intensive and requires many hours of “pegging the lines” in preparation for each day’s fishing. Back on dry land, all the family get involved in the process. Tradition has it that the women of fishing families are best at this task so Gerry is fortunate to have eight daughters!
Joe then tries to find out more about the lifecycle of the mysterious eel by consulting Dr Derek Evans a Senior Scientific Officer for Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI). Derek is one of the world’s leading experts on the behaviour of wild eels, yet even he admits that there is still so much more to be discovered. No-one, for example, has ever seen eels actually breeding! At the Co-op headquarters at Toome, Joe assists Derek in tagging mature silver eels to track them on their journey out of the lough and down the Lower River Bann.
Stopping off at Derrytrasna and Kinnego on the southern shore Joe takes a break to listen to the beautiful harmonies of The Loughshore Choir before setting off for another spell on the water with the volunteers of Lough Neagh Rescue (LNR). Sean Rocks, Chairman of LNR explains to Joe about the importance of the rescue service on the lough and the extraordinary number of call-outs in the 30 years of their existence.
His final voyage on the lough is rather special – he sets out with members of the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-op to release over a million tiny glass eels into the waters of Lough Neagh, as part of their sustainable management to protect the fish as well as preserve the fishery for future generations of fishermen.
Thank you to Joe Mahon and all the team at Westway Productions, especially Orlagh Bann. Thanks also for the camera, lighting and sound expertise by Vinny Cunningham & Billy Gallagher from Northland Broadcast.
We are very grateful to the fishermen, staff and other industries around the lough that have given up their time in telling their stories and sharing their knowledge. Each week for the last few months Joe has informed, entertained and educated viewers on everything connected to Lough Neagh. You can catch some of the previous episodes on the link below!
PLEASE TUNE IN FOR THE LAST EPISODE OF LOUGH NEAGH ON MON 19TH NOV AT 8PM ON UTV.