Fishing Lines: How to take the lough with the smooth

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MY 11-YEAR-OLD residential property adviser doesn't pull any punches. "I want you living on top of a hill by 2010 or you're going to be a flood statistic," she says firmly. Call me old-fashioned, but I have a fondness for the days when schools taught things like the Battle of Thermopylae, how to make a garden dibber and what a verb was, rather than HTML programming and advanced global warming. Smart kids: don't you hate them?

Still, I suppose all these people know better than me (or is it I?). And you don't argue with your daughter when she is so clearly convinced about the end of the world for flatlanders. This would be a bit more of a joke if we didn't live in East Anglia, where the slightest rise is called a hill, and where the work of a mole becomes an Ordnance Survey feature. I can tell the level of the nearby river simply by peering down our garden well. Last year, severe flooding saw the Ouse halt just a few feet from the back gate. Maybe there is something in this global warming stuff.

This week, my friend Brendan came back from Ireland with details of what seemed an ideal place. It is on the shores of Lough Corrib, on the west coast, where I spend a week or so trout fishing every year. Each time, I say: "I could live here." This may be my chance. The details come from the Dublin Sunday Tribune's property section, so there is necessarily a spot of hyperbole. But it sounds just the spot for an angler.

It is at Oughterard (pronounced Ooterard), where I always stay, right on the lake and with its own private boat dock. Because the lough is the largest body of water in southern Ireland and is about 20 miles long, you need a boat to get the best fishing. The Tribune says: "In the opinions of many dedicated Irish and indeed European freshwater fishermen, Lough Corrib will often rate as simply the best freshwater fishing lake in this country, if not on the continent. While its annual catch does not strictly exceed that of many other top lakes, fishermen rate the quality of their surrounds highly when gauging their territory - in this case, the backdrop of the Hill of Doon and the famous Connemara Hills." I rather liked that "strictly".

The author, as an Irishman should, waxes more lyrical about fishing and Oughterard - "a popular haunt for tribes seeking solace at weekends or even for a stolen afternoon here and there" - than the house, which may be a danger sign. Though it is the lead story in the property section, running across most of the front page, I can tell you little more about the house than that it is made of wood, has four bedrooms, a garage and a "lofted workshop". Not often you see the past participle of the verb "to loft", is it?

I was all set to phone the estate agent when my wife, Riva, intervened and pointed out a few details that, in the euphoria of finding somewhere on Corrib, I could have missed. "When the current owner acquired Lakeside four years ago, he planned to have it demolished, but his engineer pointed out that the home was in good condition - advice the owner is now glad he took." Riva asked: "Why did he want to knock it down? And why is he glad? Is it because now some other mug, like you, can pay for those essential repairs?"

Irish weather can be, shall we say, changeable, and she also worried about the sentence that read: "The warmest room is the living room, with a large fissured [fish everywhere] limestone fireplace and two matching fireside seats." I accept her doubts about the decor (the four bedrooms all have "the same polished pine panelling"). And now Riva read it again, pointing out the home's warmest room (the only one with a fireplace) could mean the others are constantly chilled by those Corrib winds.

What worried her most was that the property is a fishing lodge. Anglers need little more than a bed, a tackle storeroom and a place to hang waders, but she's stayed in enough fishing properties to know that kitchen-dining room means a small area with a microwave. Definitely not a place for dinner parties, more for take-home pizza.

I've sent off for full details, but I'm not optimistic. Still, at least it's on a hill.

Comments