Paul Bourke returns to the blog to pen an appreciation of Peter O’Reilly who passed away at the end of last week…

On the 6th of December, a great angling legend, Peter O’Reilly passed away quietly in a Dublin hospital after a long illness.  I first met Peter when he joined the Inland Fisheries Trust as a Game Angling Officer in 1978.  I had certainly heard of him, particularly when I fished and worked at times on Lough Sheelin in my early years.  His first job at that time was to find out and collect information on all the great Salmon, Sea Trout and Brown Trout waters all around Ireland.

At that time, the Trust had many field officers working on the best trout angling waters and it was from them that he gathered the complete information on the fisheries concerned.  On Salmon, Sea trout and other trout waters he visited ever angling clubs and fishery owner to collect information on all those rivers and lakes over a number of years.  After years of collecting the information he published the first of his four great books in 1987 when he then worked for the Central Fisheries Board. Entitled Trout and Salmon Loughs of Ireland, it was an instant best seller topping the bestselling book charts in nonfiction in Ireland for several weeks.

In the following years he penned the companion book “Rivers of Ireland, A Flyfisher’s Guide”.  Two more books followed “Trout and Salmon Flies of Ireland” and finally “Fly fishing in Ireland”.  His writing in all his books was superb in detail and full of good practical advice.

During these years he became a professional fly casting instructor doing a series of exams both in the UK and the USA.  He then proceeded to hold popular fly casting courses in several game locations all around Ireland annually and I was delighted to take part in several of these.

He was a prolific writer in the media especially for the bestselling magazine Trout and Salmon in the UK and began in 1990 to publish monthly angling reports for the best of our Salmon and Trout fisheries until his retirement.

I joined the angling section in 1989 and worked with him at different times during the following years.   As the Editor of the Irish Angling Update, I was to work closely with Peter on the game angling reports he wrote for Trout and Salmon magazine.  He gave me great advice on these matters and on my casting when I had several occasions to fish with the great man who was wonderful to fish with and to tie flies with.

In later years he worked at many angling fairs promoting and marketing game angling here in Ireland and abroad in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland.

My deepest condolences to his wife Rose, his son Patrick and all his family.  He was a gentleman, friend and a colleague and I will miss him greatly as will many game anglers here in Ireland.  One of the true greats in Irish Angling and he left us a great legacy. Rest in peace Peter.

Ar dheis de go raibh a anam dilis.

Peter OREilly
Peter playing a trout at a recent angling journalist competition