The Angler in County Clare 1833, William Bilton

The country we passed through, in our way to Corofin, was particularly ugly. The whole of this part of Clare consists of flat limestone rock, covered in general with little or no herbage, and presenting the most desolate appearance imaginable. Yet not only sheep, but even horses and cattle, contrive to find good browsing among these broken crags…

After travelling this barren and desolate country, it was indeed a great relief for the eye to repose upon the waters of Inchiquin. This is a sweet little lake, about two or three miles in circumference, nestling at the foot of a beautifully wooded range of hills, whose verdure forms the most delicious contrast to the bare limestone rocks, which cover the rest of this tract. On one shore stands an old ruined castle: on the opposite bank is an ancient and spacious mansion belonging to the Burton family, but now converted into a barrack. About a quarter of a mile above the lake, is a very pretty cottage belonging to Mr. Fitzgerald, called Adelphi, guarded, as it were, by the picturesque ruins of an old tower that overhangs it.

At the lakes side were several boats and attendants awaiting our arrival. A gentleman and myself, in our boat, killed eleven trout, the smallest of which was above half a pound, and the largest very nearly two pounds, in weight; besides a great number of rises. The trout here are of two kinds, red and white: the latter, in particular,are very strong and active; and upon being hooked, will often spring a great height out of the water. There are also a few very fine pike, unusually thick, deep, and silvery. One of these, a very handsome fish, ten pounds and a half in weight, was killed during my stay, by a noted and very superior fisherman of Ennis, Mr. James O’ Gorman: it had almost the shape and colour of a salmon.

The flies generally used here are of the medium size, with red or brown fur bodies, light gold twist, and wings, either of partridge and rail mixed, or else mallard, with a few fibres of the peacocks breast. There is also a very favourite dropper, called the rush fly, which has a reddish brown body,with wings of a small rails feather, not stripped of the quill.

From the Strangers Gaze. Travels in County Clare 1534-1950 Brian O’ Dalaigh editor. Clasp Press, 1998.