I had been cooped up in my dorm room for what felt like an eternity finishing several papers when I peered out the window and noticed the sun shining brightly onto the quad. Having not seen the sun in days, I decided to take advantage of this rare sunny Dublin winter day. I closed my laptop, threw on my helmet, hopped on my bike, and started making my way over to the coast. Fifteen minutes later I was greeted by the rough chop of the Irish Sea and the sweet smell of its salty waters.
However, as so often happens in Ireland, the sun-filled sky quickly transformed into a series of ominous black clouds racing towards me. Seconds later I was reaching into the depths of my pack searching for my rain jacket (at this point I refuse to leave home without one regardless of how sunny it may be) as the hail pelted me. With the 30 mph wind hurling hailstones at me, I retreated to the warm and dry confines of my dorm room.
The Irish rain and I have developed a love-hate relationship in my short tenure on the Emerald Isle. Most mornings I walk to class in the midst of a deluge. With my hood tightly gripping my head and my feet nimbly avoiding puddles, I curse the rain as I push through the downpour and howling winds. However, on the weekends when I escape the confines of life on campus and head into the Irish countryside, I appreciate how the rain has created and sustained the verdant landscape and the rushing rivers filled with trout and salmon. Enveloped in my waterproof waders and Gore-tex raincoat, the rains, no matter how furious, do not bother me.
The Irish rain giveth and taketh away. In February I had plans to fish some of the trout-filled rivers of Cork with Jon Poole. However, weeks of rain had flooded southern Ireland and inundated the streets of Cork. Fishing was impossible that weekend, but we could have kayaked through the streets of downtown Cork had we been properly equipped.
Over the coming weeks, the rain slowed allowing the rivers to retreat back within their banks, which opened up a world of possibility. I took the train from Dublin up to Dundalk and spent the next three days fishing with Eamonn Conway, a guide and former member of the Irish National Fishing Team. For three days, we plied the fertile waters of Ireland for native brown trout.
Eamonn insisted on showcasing the breadth of Ireland’s fishery, so we fished eight rivers over the course of three days. It was an amazing display of diversity as each was more beautiful than the former and the fish were eager to take a fly everywhere we went. Despite the number of rivers we fished, Eamonn maintained that we only saw a small number of rivers that comprise his homewaters of Northeast Ireland.
On our last afternoon together, we stood by the river sipping tea and discussing the bounty that the Irish rains produce. Although it can wreak havoc on fishing plans some weekends and be a nuisance when walking to class, the rain is the lifeblood of the rich green lands I have grown so fond of. As we drove to the train station, Eamonn invited me to return to Dundalk in April to further explore these immaculate waters and beautiful wild trout. I told him I would be there rain or shine.