This slightly overdue report from Newport SAC on their very successful Annual Sea Angling Festival Competition at the end of July:

After a two year absence due to Covid, Newport SAC were back to host the 56th Annual Sea Angling Festival Competition on Sunday 31st of July. Local angler Thomas Moran was announced as the overall winner of the of the competition after a very close contest, particularly amongst the top 3 anglers (who were only separated by 3 fish!).

What made it even more special was the fact that Thomas received the Tom Moran memorial cup which is dedicated to his late father who passed away in 1997.

Thomas had a total of 22 fish and 130 points on the day to secure the top spot. He also received a set of crystal glasses and a voucher for the Westport Hotel Group (kindly sponsored by the Corcoran Family).

Thomas Moran was the overall winner of the 56th annual Newport SAC Festival and was presented with the Tom Moran Memorial Cup by members of the Moran family, (Bella, Sorcha and Cian)

The runner up was Shane Gilvarry with 19 fish and 115 points and 3rd place went to Darragh McGee with 17 fish and 115 points. Killala SAC anglers Peter Coyne (20 fish & 100 points) and Josie Barrett (12 fish & 90 points) were 4th and 5th respectively.

Best lady angler on the day was Siobhan Melvin with 13 fish & 85 points and Siobhan also received a prize for the largest fish (Ray) on the day. Best skipper was Tom Moran (Westport) who skippered the Whitewater II.

As this was the first outing for the club’s Senior anglers (18+) since the outbreak of Covid in early 2020, demand was high and unfortunately the club couldn’t accommodate all who wished to take part on the day. Our thanks to the sponsors (Westport Hotel Group, Bella Moran, Wyatt Hotel, Martin & Mary O’Malley) for their support. Our thanks also to the anglers, the skippers, those who helped out on the day and to Nevins Bar Newport and The Port Chipper for all their help.

The club also made a presentation to long standing committee member, club trophy officer & treasurer Bella Moran following her retirement from the club. Bella held the position of treasurer and trophy officer for many, many years and helped to keep the wheels turning (along with many others) within the club over the years.

Bella was introduced to angling for the first time in 1972 by her husband Tom and it didn’t take her long before becoming club master angler in 1976 & 1977 (2 years in a row).  As master angler in ’77 she went on to represent Newport SAC the following year in the 1978 All Ireland Boat Angling Championship. This All Ireland event was hosted by Westport Centurions SAC & run by the IFSA. During the 1978 All Ireland Boat Angling Championship she competed against 87 other club champions from all over the country.
Bella made history by being the first woman in the IFSA’s history to win this competition.

A presentation was made to Bella Moran on behalf of Newport SAC by club chairman Sean Fahy and skipper of the ‘Lady Helen’ Reg Roynon.

When Bella’s name was called out as the overall winner in the 1978 All Ireland Boat Angling Championship, she received a standing ovation and was carried on the shoulders of local skipper Reg Roynon (Snr) of the ‘Lady Helen’ to receive her prize. In keeping with tradition the current skipper Reg Roynon (Jnr) walked Bella to accept a presentation from all at the club.

As Bella was the 1978 All Ireland Angling Champion, she went on to represent Ireland in the International Sea Angling Championships on 19th August 1979. Bella made history again by becoming the first woman to captain the Irish national sea angling team and represented Ireland in the International Sea Angling Championships in ‘79 (fished in Youghal) .Although the Irish team weren’t victorious, it certainly helped to put Newport SAC on the map and in particular brought national attention on women’s participation in sea angling long before many other sports.

Bella finally decided to retire this year and the entire club would like to take the opportunity to thank her for her many years of dedication and hard work for Newport SAC. Thank you Bella from all at the club past & present.

The club would also like to pass on our sympathies to Maureen, Darragh & Fiona, Shane, Christopher, Holly, Colum and extended McGee family on the recent passing of Peter McGee (RIP). Peter was a former chairman of the Newport Sea Angling Club and was instrumental in laying a solid foundation for the club in the late sixties and early seventies. Peter left no stone un-turned in ensuring the club was successful and in later years he skippered many a day’s fishing out the bay when he purchased his own sea angling boat. Peter was always at hand to help anglers in any way he could and was never found wanting when it came to supporting the club or sponsoring prizes. As one of life’s true gentlemen, he will be sadly missed. May his gentle soul rest in peace.