Written by Dan O’Donovan Salmon of the River Lee is a high quality hardback, thread sewn, production with over 150 photographs – and would make a great Christmas gift for the salmon angler in your life…

Salmon of the River Lee cover
Salmon of the River Lee, edited by Jack Power, is available at TW Murrays in St Patrick’s Street, Cork; Rory’s Tackle Shop, Templebar, Dublin; Cong Angling Centre, Cong, Co Mayo; Macroom Bookshop; and online at www.anglebooks.com and www.rareandrecent.com

It may be hard to imagine in the middle of an exceptional Summer drought
but the Lee was once one of the truly great salmon rivers of these islands.
Today’s miniscule runs of salmon make it even harder to imagine that there
was once an entire tourism industry built along the river valley because of
the Lee’s magnificent runs of Spring salmon  – but there was. In fact, the
fish were so abundant that at one stage there were 18 commercial netting
stations along the river and its tributaries.

These memories of the river, especially the river before the dams at
Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid limited the salmon runs, are fading from
living memory and are on the cusp of being lost forever. With that in mind
local club, the Cork Salmon Anglers Association has just published a
not-for-profit history of salmon on the Lee.

*Salmon of the River Lee*, launched most appropriately in the Inniscarra
Bar recently, is made up of a series of contributions from a range of
people with specialist knowledge in the area. Dan O‘Donovan focuses on the
statistical history of the river and even in a litany of figures
incomprehensible by today’s standards one piece of data stands out. In the
dry summer of 1975, 90,225 salmon were officially recorded as caught by
netsmen between Ballycotton and the mouth of the Illen River at Skibbereen
– essentially the old Cork District for fishery administration.  The total
catch may have been even higher. That the total national catch for the
entire country has hovered around the 30,000 mark for the last number of
years gives a chilling indication of how this once great resource has been

Ploughing near Macroom, 1953
Ploughing near Macroom, 1953 – look closely at the photo – the angler has a good salmon by his leg…

The human side of the story is told too through Tommy O’Sullivan, the last
man alive to have caught a 40-pound salmon in the river. He caught it near
where the Lee and Dripsey rivers meet in April, 1950. On his way home he
caught a second fish – a mere 30-pounder.  These details may be lost on a
non-angler but to put it in context, no-one alive will ever repeat that
feat. You’d have a far better chance of winning the Lotto three weekends in
a row!

Diarmid Williams writes of his family’s long association with the river and
its angling through their hotel in Macroom – now the Castle hotel – and
through Coolcower House, which was visited by anglers from far and wide on
an annual basis. Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland fisheries Ireland writes about
what the future might hold and how we might better help the remnants of a
once great population to recover.  Internationally recognised fly dresser
Dave Carne writes about the old Lee classic patterns  and offers some
beautiful examples. Angling historian Martin Lanigan-O’Keeffe contributes
on the same subject. A unique feature of the book is that some club members
have written short pieces on what the river and its gifts mean to
them.  Maurice Buckley writes about the tackle trade and manufacturing in Cork over the
centuries. A series of old photographs showing how very beautiful the
valley was before the dams were built are striking too and show what a very
heavy price we sometimes pay for progress.

The objective of this project was to honour and remember a once-great
river, hopefully, it has been realised.

Buy the book…

Salmon of the River Lee, edited by Jack Power, is available online at

Or from the following shops

  • TW Murrays in St Patrick’s Street, Cork;
  • Rory’s Tackle Shop, Templebar, Dublin;
  • Cong Angling Centre, Cong, Co Mayo;
  • Macroom Bookshop; Macroom, Co. Cork