The Mayfly is Up. Never forgotten.
The Mayfly is up. Four words that cause many a missed heartbeat
when heard for the first time each year. Straight away you think of
past years, and you think when can I get going? Never forgotten.
One small fly provoking such action and emotion for generations.
Your parents, your grandparents, yourself, your kids, all part of it.
Kids selling flies from boxes which had been used by their parents,
just as they did in their time- €2 per dozen with a few for luck.
“They’re not dead, they’re only asleep”. Special fisherman’s lunch
offer- sandwich, Taytos, and a drink – €5. Gents and Ghillies, tanks of
petrol, and rods sticking out car windows. Never forgotten.
Some in Barbour and Hunters, others in Aran jumpers and Portwest,
all moving with common purpose and good humour. Fishing the
leveller. Never forgotten.
Into the boat, sit down, and stay quiet. Never forgotten.
That’s where I straightened my hook in a fish, that’s where we
landed 20 trout in a day, that’s the last place we fished together.
Always the possibility, always the chance. Drifting with fair wind, and
the possibility at any moment of a splash, or the fly silently
disappearing underwater by an unseen force. Counting down the
seconds before you strike, and the line runs off the reel. Is he big or
small? No sign yet, around the back of the boat, rod bent, line
running, sun blinding as you reach for the net. Trout breaks surface,
jumps and is gone. What harm? New flies, and the possibility is still
there. Another rise, big fish, strike, around the back of the boat, fish
jumps, it’s a salmon. Heart pounding, into the boat. Never forgotten.
Burnt from the sun bouncing off the lake. Soaked through the oil
skins from rain. Too wild to go out, too calm to go out. Never
The smell of the fearnóg and ash from the lunch fires on the wind.
Scalding hot tea in the shelter of the island. Steak, sausages, burgers,
and onions burnt to a crisp on the pan. I can almost smell it now.
Never forgotten.You know that boat over there by the colour. You wave to every boat
that passes and they wave back. Never forgotten.
Motoring home, quietly thinking, the sun setting on Na Beanna Beola
and the Maam Valley, boats all around. Some staying out for a while
longer. Everyone tired and content. There are people talking and
reminiscing about this in Dublin, New York, London, and Sydney.
How lucky are we. Never forgotten.
Bars and restaurants full. Everyone an expert on a sport that anyone
can do. Every table laughing and enjoying the craic. The ones that got
away are as important as the ones that are landed. They are all part
of the story. Never forgotten.
Thinking back 50 years to national school, learning “I Am a Little
Mayfly” and “The Cremation of Sam McGee” for the school play.
Both equally important. Never forgotten.
Thinking of all who were old then and long gone now. We were kids
then and could only do what we were told. We did not know that we
were learning to keep it alive. We’re in charge now and we must not
allow it to die. Never forgotten.
May 2020. The mayfly is up, and we are in lockdown. They will have
an easy time of it this year. Never forgotten.