Episode 1 of Lough Neagh went down a storm and topped the ratings at 30%. In episode 2, Joe Mahon makes an early start, taking to the waters of Lough Neagh at the crack of dawn to retrieve fishing nets that have been set the day before in an attempt to catch pollan – often referred to as “the freshwater herring”. Kieran Brazier is typical of many local fishermen for whom the night is only a dark part of the working day and most of the time he’s up and sailing out of his tiny harbour at Hunter’s Point on the Antrim shore long before the rooster begins to crow. Joe joins Kieran and his son Dylan as they haul in their nets and later, back on shore, “helps” them to unload and pack their catch in ice before it’s collected by the lorry from the Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-operative.
Pollan are the only European vertebrate found uniquely in Ireland, a relic from a previous ice age, found in only five Irish loughs; Lough Allen, Ree, Derg, Erne and Lough Neagh. The pollan in Lough Neagh are genetically distinct from pollan in the rest of Ireland and the only commercial stock of pollan. The EU Commission has recently awarded Lough Neagh Pollan a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), the first for NI and the first fin fish in the UK & Ireland to receive this accolade; a very unique food item indeed and a fitting accolade to the fishermen on Lough Neagh.
Joe then does his own take on the origins of Lough Neagh and tries to disentangle some of the geology from the mythology – not entirely convincingly it has to be said!
Then it’s off further down the Antrim shore, to the Montiaghs Moss, a fragile environment which has become home to a range of dragonflies and damselflies, including the rare and only recently discovered “Irish Damselfly”. Here Joe meets up with Cathryn Cochrane and Katy Bell from the RSPB who teach him how to use a different kind of net and conduct him on a safari along the ramparts and pools of this cutover bog.
For those of you that missed Episode 1, you can catch it on the link below. All you need to do is confirm your Northern Ireland postcode & enjoy!
Don’t forget to tune in again on Mon 24th Sept at 8pm on UTV and continue the journey of Lough Neagh with Joe Mahon.