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Displaying items by tag: Lough Conn

Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan has announced a partnership agreement with Enniscoe House, in Co Mayo that will see the establishment of a new nature reserve on the site.

The reserve would be jointly managed by the owners, the Kellet Family, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to provide for the conservation, education and enhancement of the estate and in particular its vulnerable aquatic wildlife.

Enniscoe Estate borders Lough Conn, a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive, where Atlantic salmon, freshwater pearl mussels, otters and white-clawed crayfish are the qualifying interest for a potential nature reserve designation.

It’s also designated a Special Protection Area under the birds directive, where breeding common scoter, common gulls and overwintering white-fronted geese are present.

In addition, Lough Conn is a legally protected Wildfowl Sanctuary under the Wildlife Acts. The rare Irish red squirrel was recorded in the woodlands in 2019.

Minister Noonan acknowledged the commitment and dedication of the Kellet family towards managing their lands for nature, heritage and community.

Enniscoe House in Co Mayo, the grounds of which border Lough ConnEnniscoe House in Co Mayo, the grounds of which border Lough Conn

“I’m deeply impressed by what I’ve seen here at Enniscoe House – the Kellet family’s love and care for one of the great houses of the West over generations is inspiring.,” he said.

“The efforts they have made to protect the cultural integrity of the buildings, the work done to develop a sustainable rural enterprise, and the ongoing initiatives to protect and enhance biodiversity on the site are all to be commended.

“I thank the Kellet family for their foresight in collaborating with the National Parks and Wildlife Service at Enniscoe. These partnerships will deliver benefits to communities, nature and our built and cultural heritage.”

Susan Kellet, whose family has owned and managed Enniscoe House for 14 generations, commented: “I am delighted to have entered into this partnership with National Parks and Wildlife Service and Minister Noonan. It seems an excellent match between the work of NPWS and my own ambitions to preserve and enhance this unique corner of Mayo.

“Enniscoe House and Estate has been in the ownership of my family since the 17th century. While the estate is now only a fraction of its original size, the essential core remains. The present house dates from the 1790s, a plain exterior concealing an elegant Georgian interior.

“I have been running Enniscoe House and estate for over 30 years and my son is now taking over much of the work. He joins me in thanking the minister, and the staff of NPWS, for the opportunity to create this relationship between a private owner of an historic house and estate and the department. We look forward to many fruitful years of working together”.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#ANGLING - The going is tough in the last weeks of this year's angling season on Lough Mask, as Mayo Today reports.

Though anglers are still out in good numbers despite the shortening days and drop in temperature, catch numbers are way down on the angling bonanza that marked the beginning of a season that also produced a record-breaking monster trout on nearby Lough Corrib.

The best fishing was seen at the Vintners Federation of Ireland contest on the lough two weeks ago, where the prize-winning catch was a total of seven trout for 4.21kg.

Meanwhile, Celebrity World Cup champ Mick Dunne won the Molloy Cup catch-and-release contest with his catch of five trout measuring 157cm in total.

Elsewhere in Mayo, the River Moy has been more productive, with 199 salmon reported in the seven days preceding 19 September, and Lough Conn and Lough Beltra anglers have also reported some good fishing.

The news makes up for the "relative quiet" on the Newport Rover, and the significant decrease in catches on the Ballisodare Fishery.

Published in Angling

#KAYAKING - The University of Limerick were overall winners in the 2012 Irish Kayaking Intervarsities at GMIT Castlebar last weekend.

As the Mayo Advertiser reports, some 500 students were on hand for the three days of competition, which kicked off with canoe polo on Lough Conn (won by GMIT over DCU).

Saturday's action saw the whitewater contest on the Clydagh River, with Limerick emerging on top, and the freestyle event on the River Clare at Tuam Wave.

Sunday closed with the long distance event at Lough Lannagh, which clinched the weekend for UL's kayakers.

Mayo also hosted the Irish Intervarsity Sailing Championships in Rosmoney last week, which attracting 200 students to the Westport area.

Published in Kayaking

Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.

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