The Wild Atlantic Salmon as the king of fish always held a very special place in Irish history and a very special event relating to the Flight of the Earls was marked recently.
It is the 400th anniversary of an historic event which was commemorated by Ireland’s Premier Angling body – FISSTA (Federation of Irish Salmon and Sea Trout Anglers) at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin where a specialexhibition titled “Strangers to Citizens – the Irish in Europe 1600 -1800.” The Belgian Ambassador to Ireland His Excellency Mr. Leopold Carrewyn attended the commemoration and was presented by National Secretary Noel Carr and founding member Richard Behal with a Loates painting of a returning wild salmon to commemorate the salmon of Louvain being caught by a soldier from the Earl of Tyrconnell party as they traveled Europe in what has become known as the Flight of the Earls. In an extract from the Flight of the Earls chronicler Tadhg O’ Cianain who wrote this account in the Irish Franciscan College in Louven Belguim in 1608, it is recorded that the salmon was seen in the Louvain river by a Donegal soldier, as he was on his way to deliver a message to the Earl of Tyrone’s palace near the Franciscan College. Having caught the salmon, he presented it to Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O’ Neill who thankfully displayed it to all the nobles of the Louvain city who were surprised at the size and where he was caught as no salmon had ever been caught there before or since. The Secretary of FISSTA Noel Carr stated that “The story is certainly a most historic one in that great hope sprung from the catching of this salmon as it was seen at that time as an inspiring sign from Ireland. FISSTA now take this same hope in their overall objective to encourage participation in the sport of salmon angling and to encourage Belgium and other mainland EU continues to improve the clean water and fish stocks in the once great salmon rivers such as the Meuse and Rhine. Our campaign to end the commercial netting for salmon will continue to bring positive results, and the Federation now believe that the time is right for a more positive image to be promoted for angling tourism and leisure breaks on our waterways. We hope the commemoration of this event will promote the ancient sport of angling for those exploring new outdoor holiday pursuits.