Seáinín Mac Eoin
‘A long time ago you were better off having a naomhóg than a farm of land. A woman would want you more if you were a good fisherman, instead of a man having 60 acres. There was a lot of work in a farmhouse, but if she was married to a fisherman she hadn’t as much to do. She didn’t have hard work, only to raise her children.
‘Very often you’d have naomhóga coming in with a catch just as people would be leaving the pub to head for Halla na Múirí where they’d be looking for a woman. The dance would finish at about 1am and they’d go down to the quay, get a couple of mackerel, rub them on their shoes and then head off to the dance.
‘“What do you do.”
‘“Look, I’m a fisherman. Look at my shoes. I’v a load of fish on the quay in Baile na nGall.”
‘He’d be considered a good catch.
‘When I was born there was only a couple of naomhóga fishing in the village. My grand-father was fishing and his father was fishing; my father was fishing, but when he got married he had to get a steady job, because fishing was a precarious occupation. There’d be nothing in the house if your had a week or two weeks of bad weather. He went working for Kerry County Council.
‘But the sea nurtured us and the sea put food on the table. We were eating fish a couple of days a week. There was an abundance of fish. My brother Dickie was fishing with Tom Murphy, "Doll na Muirí" we called him. When my brother got a job in Mullngar Post Office I went fishing with "Doll na Muirí". I thought he was very old. He was over 60 when I went fishing with him and I was around 12.
‘The naomhóg was about 25 feet. I remember the only fault I’d have with "Doll na Muirí" was that he loved tobacco — that lovely smell when he’d light the pipe. You’d recognise the “Doll” everywhere. On the hottest day in summer he’d be wearing a black oilskin. I don’t know why. We had 20 pots. We’d make the pots out of sally rods. He taught me how to make pots. He was an expert in that type of fishing.
‘That older generation were very patient. He’d have the pot and would release it to the bottom of the sea and if it wasn’t covered with seaweed he’d pull it back up again. He’d be saying "pull the right hand, reverse the left hand", to get the pot into the place where it could rest. He was a nice man.’
‘Fadó, b’fhearr duit naomhóg a bheith agat na feirm talún. Is mó lorg a bheadh ag bean ort dá m'beafá go maith ag iascaigh, na fear go raibh seascha acra aige. Bhí ana chuid oibre i Tigh Feirme do bhean ach dá mbeadh sí pósta le iascaire ní mór a bhí le déanamh. Ní raibh obair cruaigh aici, ach leanaí a thógaint.
‘Go minic bíodh naomhóg ag teacht isteach le iasc agus daoine ag fágaint an tigh tabhairne ag dul siar go dtí Halla na Muirí ar thóir cailin éigin. Bíodh an rince ag criochniú ag timpeall a h-aon. Théidis síos an cé agus faighidís cúpla maicréal agus chuimil siad ar na bróga iad agus ansan raidís isteach go dtí an rince.
“Cad a dhéanann tusa.”
“Féach. Iascaire. Féach mo bhróga. Tá ualach éisc ar ché Baile na nGall agam.”
'Fear maith é sin.
‘Nuair a saolaíodh mise ní raibh ag iascadh ar an mbaile ach cúpla naomhóg beag. Bhí m’athair chríonna ag iascadh, agus a athair sin; bhí m’athair ag iascadh ach nuair a phós sé caithfidh sé jab staidéir a fháil, mar bhí an iascadh ‘precarious occupation’. Má bheadh seachtain nó coicíos de dhroch aimsir, ní bhéadh faic sa tigh. Chuaigh sé ag obair do Comhairle Contae Ciarraí.
‘Ach is é an fharraige a chothaigh sin, is é an fharraige a chuir bia ar an mbord. Bhíomar ag ithe iasc cúpla lá in aghaidh na seactaine. Bhí flúirse éisc ann. Bhí mo dheartháir Dickie ag iascadh i dteannta le Tom Murphy, "Doll na Muirí" a thugtaí air. Nuair a fuair sé post suas i Mullingar le Oifig a Phoist, chuathas ag iascadh le "Doll na Muirí". Cheapas go raibh sé ana chríonna. Bhí an Doll ós cionn 60 nuair a chuas ag iascadh. Bhí mé timpeall a 12.
'Bhí an naomhóg timpeall cúig troigh is fiche. Is cuimhin liom an t-aon lucht amháin a bhí agam ar "Doll na Muirí" ná bhí ana dhúil sa thabac aige. An blath aoibhinn nuair a lasadh sé an phíob.
‘Aithneofa an Doll in aon áit. Bhí oilskin dubh air an lá is teo sa tsamhraidh. N'fheadair cén fádh. Bhí fiche pota againn. Deineadh muid na potaí as sally rods. Is é a mhúin dom potaí a dhéanamh. Bhí se ana fhilte timpeall ar an saghas san iascadh.
'Bhí an seana dream ana fhoighneach. Bheadh an pota aige agus scaoileadh sé an phota go ghrinneall na farraige. Muna mbeadh an pota clúdaithe in iomlán le bhfeamainn, tharrangaíoch sé aníos arís é. Bheadh sé a rá, "tarraing an lámh deas, cúlaigh an lámh clé", chun é a fháil isteach in áit a d'fheadach an pota dul. Fear deas ab ea é.’