Jigs and reels at first County Limerick fly casting festival

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

Stepping back in time: Mike Joyce, Pat Webb, Colm Martin, Catherine ODoherty, Lesley Hartigan, Eamon McQuaid, John Geraghty, John MacNamara and Paddy Hanly, Doon, re-enact a famous photo taken of a coach leaving Castleconnell around the turn of the 20th century, much to the enjoyment of international visitors
CASTLECONNELL is set for a major tourism boost after competitors in the John Enright Fly Casting Festival were reeled in by the picturesque village and local hospitality.

CASTLECONNELL is set for a major tourism boost after competitors in the John Enright Fly Casting Festival were reeled in by the picturesque village and local hospitality.

Fly casters came from Norway, Russia, Scotland, Canada, England, USA and around Ireland. Mr Enright’s international exploits brought fame and glory to his native village around the turn of the 20th century.

Festival organiser John MacNamara said it felt like they were stepping back in time.

“To stand on the lawn of the Castle Oaks and watch all these casters line up - it was an extraordinary sight to see. We had the top 10 casters in the world including the world champion and world record holder.

“There was only six inches between the first, second and third in terms of distance cast and that’s over a distance of 172 feet,” said Mr MacNamara. And it was certainly a step back in time when a famous photograph of the coach to Dublin in front of Enright’s shop was re-enacted. Paddy Hanly brought one of his carriages from Doon.

“We dressed up in the garb of the time and we reproduced it. We did a circle of the village, Johnny Hough played some music and there was set dancing as well. We timed it to meet the casters coming back from Doonass. A lot of photographs were taken and they were charmed by it,” said Mr MacNamara. The wide range of events included an exhibition of John Enright memorabilia, including a full history written by Colm Martin, who came up with the festival idea; memories of Castleconnell shop; historical tour; bands, sports; entertainment every night including in the Shannon Inn – former home of John Enright – spey and fly casting competition and the final awards ceremony in the Castle Oaks.

Mr MacNamara wished to thank the hard-working committee of 14 who started planning last November. He said competitors were genuinely thrilled with the weekend and there is huge scope for more international tourists on the back of its success, as well as returning for next year’s festival.

“The hospitality of locals was fantastic. They turned out to support it and the casters were completely adopted by them,” said a delighted John.