Obrázky stránek

tion of the banker by burning his notes, and other Paddyisms that would raise a smile, if the consequences to the good-hearted but hot-headed and abused Milesians did not incline one to weep: and, ridiculous as it is, the proposal is stale. These insanities— idiotisms would perhaps be the more appropriate word—come round in cycles, with this accessory, however, that in proportion as knowledge increases the absurdity becomes more glaring.

It is curious to read in the year 1843, when-inter aliafrieze coats are to be your only Irish wear, The Defence of English Commodities: being an Answer to the Proposal for the universal Use of Irish Manufactures, and utterly rejecting and renouncing everything that is wearable that comes from England' -written upwards of a hundred years ago.

[ocr errors]

'His pleasure,' says the shrewd writer of the Defence, speaking of the author of this notable project, is, that everything shall be burnt that comes from England except the people and the coals; and, till this is done, Ireland will never be happy; and for this he has a sort of old prophecy delivered to him by the archbishop of Tuam!

I should be very glad that the gentlemen of Ireland, out of a public spirit and a regard to the common interest of the kingdom, would make it their choice to be content with their own manufactures, though dearer and worse than the English; but what sentiments such a prohibition would beget in England, and how far it is in their power to make reprisals, would be worth while to consider. An ordinance of this nature was formerly made by an Irish parliament in the reign of Edward III., when they had a much better authority to do it, which was attended with a resumption of their liberties, and that produced a rebellion, which ended in confiscation. I don't know that the people of Ireland ever got anything by their madness, except it was to have their horns pared.

'They have been transformed from savages into reasonable creatures, and delivered from a state of nature and barbarism, and endowed with civility and humanity. England has adorned them with her habits, language, and manners, and let them into all the benefits and privileges of her laws, policy, and government; some of them shine at this day in the highest places of honour and trust under her authority-ut omnes scirent patere virtuti viam: and, indeed, to do justice to the Irish nation, they have afforded this age, some of the most celebrated wits, as well as the most renowned heroes.'

These sentences require no comment; and we turn to the fisheries-one of the many abundant gifts showered upon Ireland, which, well employed and commercially worked under good rulers, might alone go far to make it a land of happiness and peace. The coast positively swarms with fish of the best quality. On the coast of Dublin and in the rivers cod, haddock-the large delicious Dublin Bay haddock-whiting, herrings, trout, and salmon


are taken. Louth affords cod, haddock, conger, ling, mackerel, whiting, herrings, hake, and flat-fish. Cod, haddock, ling, whiting, conger, turbot, soles, plaice, brill, mackerel, herrings, and mullet, enrich the coasts of Down. The basaltic Antrim-for the trap-district with which the Giant's Causeway is connected occupies nearly the whole of that county-yields cod, ling, conger, pollock, flat-fish, turbot, haddock. Donegal contributes soles, plaice, oysters, herrings, turbot, cod, ling, eels, haddock, doree -better known, thanks to the immortal Quin, as John Dory -hake, whiting, conger, mackerel, sprat, and glassen. Sligo possesses turbot, cod, and all species that frequent the fruitful Irish coasts. From Mayo are obtained turbot, soles, cod, ling, haddock, hake, whiting, glassen, conger, gurnet, pollock, mackerel, herrings, skate, sprat, bream. Galway offers cod, ling, pollock, mackerel, bream, herrings, conger, sun-fish-this last more rarely than formerly-haddock, gurnet, whiting, hake, turbot, glassen, soles, plaice, doree, halibut. Turbot, cod, ling, haddock, hake, soles, whiting, gurnet, mackerel, thornback, doree, ray, and shad, abound on the coasts of Clare. Kerry has its turbot, haddock, gurnet, pollock, plaice, soles, doree, cod, whiting, ray, conger, mullet, mackerel, shad, bream, herrings, pilchards, hake, ling, glassen. Cork boasts its turbot, soles, cod, ling, haddock, mackerel, conger, hake, whiting, shad, pilchards, herrings, plaice, pollock, halibut, doree, and skate. Cod, ling, hake, haddock, glassen, herrings, are taken at Waterford. Wexford rejoices in cod, ling, hake, gurnet, whiting, pollock, turbot, mackerel, herrings, pilchards, lobsters, conger, bream, soles, plaice; and Wicklow in herrings, cod, oysters, ling, haddock, whiting, mackerel, soles, plaice, pollock, trout, and salmon.

Now these are only the greater fishing-grounds, abundantly supplied with nutritious food, to be had for the taking. Our readers must pardon us for this catalogue of fish; but we have felt it our duty not to relieve them from a fin of them: it is time that there should be no excuse for the further neglect of such a supply on the very coasts where famine often rages, and sea-weed is eaten to appease the cravings of hunger, with nourishment at hand sufficient not only for the starving people, but enough over and above to furnish the British markets to the extent of almost unlimited demand, if the fishing-grounds are only fairly treated.

TheReport' gives the following account of the state of the coast fisheries :

From the Shannon to Malin Head (the most northerly point of Donegal) the waters abound with fish; but the means of fishing (except at Galway) are rude and inefficient. The fishermen are for the most part holders of small patches of land, and with them fishing is only an

2 K 2


occasional occupation. Along the line of this extensive coast regular fishing is confined to a few towns; and the trade is only considerable during the herring seasons. At those times, however, travelling traders repair in great numbers to the several fishing harbours to purchase fish, which they carry to the interior to be consumed fresh. Upon these traders the herring fishers principally depend; for it is only at Galway and at Killybegs, on the coast of Donegal, that they derive any aid from fish-curers.

'It is in this district that poverty especially prevails, that famines are of ordinary recurrence, and that the means of the fisherman are the most completely inadequate to a profitable pursuit of his avocation. Here it is that the general condition of the country offers the fewest auxiliaries to the philanthropist in his plans of improvement; and that the Commissioners have found the greatest difficulty in discovering any satisfactory and applicable measure of relief. Along the greater part of this line of coast the boats, both in size and in construction, are unfitted for encountering the uncertain and turbulent ocean; while the remoteness of the great towns leaves the fisherman (excepting those near Galway and Sligo) without a sufficient accessible supply of salt and other means for curing the fish, should they arrive in great abundance on the shore.

'So destitute of resources are the inhabitants upon part of the Donegal coast that it is stated by Lieutenant M'Gladdery, of the Coast Guard, that it is usual for the peasantry to club their bed-clothes in considerable numbers, in order to take herrings with them in the inlets of the sea; their families meantime dispensing altogether with those necessaries.'-Evidence, p. 55.

'From Malin Head to Belfast Loch the demand on the industry of the fisherman is more steady; fishing is more continuously pursued (excepting on a part of the Antrim coast, where the fishermen are landholders), and the supplies thus obtained find a ready sale either at home or in the markets of Glasgow and Liverpool. To the latter places the fish are conveyed by steamers, which ply between these towns and Londonderry or Belfast.

• In this district also the means of fishing are very defective. Along the coasts of both districts shoals of mackerel appear during the autumn; but in neither of them is any preparation made for taking that valuable fish.

6 From the Loch of Belfast, proceeding southward, the waters continue productive; but agricultural employment being more remunerative, the trade of fishing (except for herrings) is constantly followed at two or three places only. On this line of coast the population are generally indifferent to the pursuit.

"From Carlingford, through the Bay of Dublin, as far as Wexford, complaints are heard of the scarcity of fish; and in point of fact, from Dublin to Wexford, little fishing is carried on for the supply of the Dublin market. It is confidently asserted that this diminution amounts to three-fourths of the quantity taken at a period not many years distant. -Evidence of Dublin Fishermen and Salesmen. This failure in productiveness is attributed to an over-fishing, and to a destruction of spawn,


both imputed to the trawlers. The supply of large fish also, it is said, has decreased; and the Dublin haddock of other days, more especially, has become a rare prize; but large haddock is now abundant on the southern coast, where it did not exist at the time when it was most plentiful in Dublin Bay. In seeming contradiction to this evidence, it must be stated that the number of productive banks to the north of Howth, reported by the Coast Guard officers, is considerable. It is therefore probable that the asserted scarcity of fish, if not altogether an error, applies chiefly to the in-shore fisheries. The English trawlers, who are well appointed, and fish the deep waters, make no complaints: Mr. Bartlett, on the contrary, acknowledges a steady profit of 30l. per cent. on his outlay, with which he seems perfectly satisfied. With respect more particularly to the Wicklow and Wexford coast, the most urgent complaint is less of the want of fish than of shelter; as on this part of the coast the quantity of moving sand, and the power of the waves, render the construction of permanent harbours extremely difficult.'-pp. iii., iv.

Who can read this, as we believe, accurate statement, without feeling for the utter destitution of the wretches who are perishing in the midst of plenty, only beyond their reach because of that very destitution? The poor Irishman cannot avail himself of the plentiful table spread for him, whilst the well-appointed English trawler reaps a rich harvest.

The complaint relating to Wicklow and Wexford is, as it is truly stated, not the want of fish, but of shelter; nor are these the only spots where harbours of refuge are absolutely necessary for those who are called to weather the storm in boats, however well appointed, off the iron-bound coasts of Ireland.


'At Waterford, again,' continues the "Report," the fishing resources were long believed to be abundant. The famous Nymph Bank off that county was asserted to yield white fish in an inexhaustible quantity; and evidence has been offered that persons on the light-ship, moored near this bank, have recently fished with wonderful success. However, the local replies to queries state that a scarcity of fish is very generally felt on this coast.

'From Waterford, round the entire south coast, a recent decline in the productiveness of the water, and a scarcity of fish, are matters of continued local complaint. But this scarcity seems to be confined only to the bays and in-shore fisheries, to which the operations of the fishermen, owing to their poverty and insufficient gear, are chiefly confined. On many points along this line, round to the mouth of the Shannon (which completes the circuit of Ireland), the markets cannot be considered as altogether deficient. There are several great towns, Cork included, which derive their chief supplies from this coast, and the number of secondary towns in the interior is considerable. In these markets, however, the coast of Kerry, from its position, has little participation; and generally the communication between the inland towns and the fishing harbours is less active than, with a little attention to means and ap


pliances, it might be; insomuch that the fisheries on the southern coast are by no means what a glance at the geography of the country might lead the inquirer to expect.

In the "Evidence" will be found a description of the most remarkable fishing-grounds around the entire coast of Ireland, as supplied by the Coast Guard replies to the Commissioners' queries. These are founded on information communicated by the fishermen; and though in all probability not sufficiently accurate, they are still enough to satisfy the inquirer that the miserable and depressed condition of the fisheries is not a consequence of defective natural resources; and that, on the contrary, Ireland is a decidedly favoured country as to the richness of its waters. With this fact foreign nations were early acquainted, and their fishermen were long accustomed to approach the Irish coasts for the purpose of fishing on ground superior to any near their own country.'— pp. iv., v.

[ocr errors]

Now, can anything be more striking than this? Here is a store of wealth and abundant food, so rich that the foreigner finds his account in the outlay and risk of a voyage to procure it, while those whose natural property it is are not in a condition to touch it.

The Report goes on to state, that, exclusively of the finned fish, Ireland possesses oyster-banks which yield valuable returns when properly fished; and that the lobster-fishery would form a most lucrative branch of industry-but this is not sufficiently worked. There is no doubt that fine lobsters exist in great plenty on various points of the coast: and yet, the reporters observe, the English markets derive their principal supplies from Norway; while in the Irish markets lobsters are scarce, dear, and often not to be had. Scotland, as is well known, now sends its contribution to the London market; and ere long, Ireland, we trust, will do the same. There is room for all. Consumers are every day increasing; and we will answer for the supply to an unlimited amount.

Whales are met with in the Irish seas; but these do not come within the sphere of our present observations, for they are mammiferous animals, nor is there any reason for supposing that more than occasional captures would be made. But it is otherwise with the sun-fish-not the Orthagoriscus oblongus of Schneider, Tetrodon truncatus of Gmelin and Pennant, which looks like some deep bream-shaped fish cut in half, with fins tacked on at the truncated end, though that often arrives at the weight of a hundred pounds—but the great basking-shark or sail-fish, Squalus maximus of Linnæus, Selachus maximus of Cuvier, that grows to the length of thirty-six feet, and was confounded with the whales from its great size, and the overlooking of the branchial orifices and the perpendicular trim of its tail. But, shark as it is, the monster is a very harmless monster, and loves to lie lazily stretched


« PředchozíPokračovat »