‘Friendly’ seal visits Limerick city

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Simon the Seal has been swimming in the Corbally area ever since Christmas, say enthusiastic locals. Pictured above is Pat Lysaght admiring a photo, taken by Tony Ryan, of Simon Picture: Michael Cowhey
THERE has been a friendly visitor along the waterways in Corbally since Christmas, and perhaps taking advantage of the recent high tides and flooding.

THERE has been a friendly visitor along the waterways in Corbally since Christmas, and perhaps taking advantage of the recent high tides and flooding.

Once every few years, a seal makes a rare appearance in Limerick city and pops his head above the water to say ‘hello’ to the locals.

Pat Lysaght, of Mill Road, has had the pleasure of a seal’s company over the past two weeks. The creature is now treading the flooded river beyond his back garden.

Pat told the Limerick Leader this week that he first came across him while on his routine boat journey along the River Shannon. Ever since, the seal — who has been christened Simon — has been following Pat on some of his marine adventures. “When I went out this morning [Monday] to feed the horses on Thomas’ Island, didn’t he follow the boat over. I think he was attracted to the noise of the engine,” he said.

Pat wanted to mark the occasion with a photograph of Simon, so his friend Tony Ryan, who is a member of St Munchin’s Camera Club, went to his house to capture the moment.

“I was just there, sitting in Pat’s house,” Tony said, “and suddenly the next thing I see is the fella popping his head above the water. So I went out, got my camera out of the car, and sneaked out so that I didn’t frighten him.” Thankfully, the two men didn’t frighten him and he stayed around for an hour, posing for shots.

Tony, who had never seen a seal up close before, said that it was an “unreal experience.

“You wouldn’t think you would see one in fresh water, a good few miles from the estuary. The last time I saw one here was years and years ago, when we were fishing. It was unreal to see something like that. I went down the back, stuck the camera on the tripod, and he really didn’t seem to mind.

“He just looked around, looking at us, as we were looking at him. He didn’t seem spooked. And he was happy, too. He was getting fed!”

Twenty-four years ago, the famous story of Sammy the Seal made headlines when local fisherman wanted to kill the creature who was eating their stock, but he was eventually rescued at the Docks.

In January 2007, Kelly the Seal, a three-month-old pup, was rescued by construction workers in Corbally, just before she was about to start to make her journey on the roads.