Leitrim Roots Festival

takes place September 20th to 28th 2013. The County Leitrim Genealogy Centre is located just across the road from Hamill’s B&B in Ballinamore, making Hamill’s the perfect place to stay when discovering your Leitrim Roots. We wish all the participants well in their quest for more stories and understanding of their roots.

World Pairs Angling Championships – in the words of Simon Young match angler.



My World Pairs Champs 2013 – by Simon Young

All photos courtesy of Steve Lockett V2V Angling @StevenLockett

Practice Open – welcome to Ireland…

Welcome to Ireland – having not actually been fishing for a couple of months prior to the World Pairs its a bit of a rude awakening when you roll up on your peg to find yourself pegged between Steve Ringer and Mark Pollard…. Oh well, we can but try!

The Sunday open match was being run out of Willie Wheelers shop in Ballyconnell – Willie has only had the shop a couple of months and being attached to the Anglers Rest hotel which is owned by Francis McGoldrick it makes a fantastic draw location as the breakfast laid on is truly top notch. It was like a who’s who of match fishing at the draw, people like Tommy Pickering, Grant Albutt, Mickey Vials, Adam Rooney, Steve and Phil Ringer to name a few and that’s besides all the top Irish lads plus Sir Bob and the seamlessly evergreen Mr Ashurst himself (God).

With the match spread across Cavan and Leitrim (Fermanagh was left out to save people having to drive too far) there were several sections in that I’ve never fished so I was looking forward to getting a shot at a new venue. I will talk more about this later but if you come on the World Pairs next year then I suggest you come a few days early and get some practice fishing for skimmers and more importantly the hybrids which are the target fish to build the bigger weights.

So hoping for a section that I’ve never seen before meant obviously I was destined to end up on one which I have previously experienced, out of the bag came Church 7 which is on Garradice – this enormous lake is probably hands down the best course fishing that you can find in Ireland, it’s incredibly consistent and normally you are guaranteed bites all day, the hard part is sorting out the better fish – and yes Garradice is one of the sections I have fished a few times! My partner for the week is my old mate from Manchester Richard Smith and he drew on Brackley, 15 minutes to drop Richie and I was back at Garradice – this is the beauty of being based in Ballinamore for our digs, the location is really central and cuts down loads of the driving (something that a few people had moaned about last year, in fact there was a running joke that last years match was nicknamed the ‘all Ireland diesel wasting champs’ – organisation was much improved for 2013 and at least the organisers took on board the feedback and improved the locations for everyone. A big part of the week away in Ireland is the world famous Craic and to enjoy your week to the full you need to be getting back from fishing at a reasonable time so you can get out and have a beer or two with the lads and find out how everywhere has fished ready for the next day.

Anyway back to my match, drawn in a section full of super stars doesn’t lend much confidence when it’s the first time you have been fishing in a couple of months! Plus I was really intending on using the practice open to setup rigs and play around with different baits to try and sort out those all important hybrids and skimmers. At the all in everyone chucked a feeder and within 10 minutes we were all catching steadily small roach and the odd hybrid, Polly and Steve either side of me set off quicker than I did what with being out of practice but we were all soon into a rhythm – the first thing I worked out was the rod I was using was far too stiff, or the hook was too small as probably 5 out of the first 10 hybrids I hooked came off…. Back up the bank after an hour to tackle up a softer rod and that made all the difference although I was still not keeping pace with Steve I was now starting to overhaul Polly. We all caught steady to the end, nothing amazing as I kept experimenting with various bait combinations – at the weigh in Steve had 18kg, me 15.5Kg and Mark to my left had 12kg…. I was pleased and even more so when I found out that Steve was not in my section so I picked up the section money £70 in the sky rocket on day 1, all in all not a bad result seeing as we had been out till 3.30am the night before and had a stinker of a hangover coming on!

Later that evening we ventured into Ballinamore and found a pub called Smyths – super food! They had a special ‘fisherman’s menu’ and for ten euros you got freshly cooked top grub, just what was needed and I recommend anyone passing through Ballinamore to stop off there.

Day 1 – The World Pairs, opening salvo

The match is fished on a rotation for those of you that don’t know, this means that you never go to the same section twice and each zone had 26 anglers in it (two sections of 13). So each morning you go to the draw and pull out A or B which also means you cannot be in the same section as your partner but you are in the same zone which means the travelling is also minimised.

Day one for us was on Carrick Mud Flats, somewhere I’ve never been. I pulled B13 out of the bag which is an end peg and Richard was in the middle of A section. The first thing you notice on all the waters out here is the amount of money that has obviously been spent on the venues – the mud flats may well have been muddy but that didn’t bother us as everyone had a 2 meter wide wooden walkway along the whole section! The barrow came out and I was at my peg after a couple of trips (god only knows why we carry so much gear!), anyway I quite fancied the peg as I had been told someone had 50lb off it the previous Friday all be it pleasure fishing.

Plumbing up there was no depth on the pole and very little flow, with the dry weather the Shannon was almost stood still, so to plan B and I got the slider out to see if there was ‘any’ flow anywhere – throwing 35 turns and reeling back 5 to sink the line I found the slightest movement which would have to do, on that 25 yard line there was 18ft of water. I also chucked the bomb everywhere and found where the bottom started to come up about 3/4 the way across with a count of 9 I estimated there was about 20ft of water there and chose a spot away from where the boats were passing – this rod was clipped up at 45 turns so it should be an easy chuck even if the wind did get up.

Just before the all in a guy drives past in a little boat and anchors up about 100 yards past me – thinking this a little strange I wondered what he was up to, next he begins fishing the feeder, to cut a long story short it turns out this is the guy who had the 50lb of bream off my peg on the Friday and now has been pre baiting himself a peg off the match length – I thought this can only happen to me!

The match itself for most of us along the mud flats was quite hard, although there were small fish to be caught and an odd bream showed some of the lads had very shallow pegs and with it bright and no wind to speak of they really struggled. Steve Lockett came and saw me towards the end and took the photo that I have used at the top of this blog, I ended the day with 8.340Kg which was a little above average, no bream and lots of roach. In hindsight I would have probably weighed 11 – 12kg if I hadn’t spent so long trying to catch breams!

Day 2 – The worst day

We were again at the Ballinamore draw and today on either Kiltybarden and Lough Scur. Our rotation meant that we got the two worst areas out of the way in the first two days, time would only tell if this was any sort of advantage or not.

Tuesday was overshadowed by my very good friend Mark Williams having a heart attack on the bank at Kiltybarden where I had also drawn. He had been feeling unwell for a few days and put it down to a chest infection, as it turned out he was extremely lucky not to be on one of the out of the way sections that would have been hard for an ambulance to find. Mark also owes his life to the quick actions of the stewards and Gus Greaves who also has suffered a heart attack recently and has some of the medicated spray that increases blood flow – Gus gave Mark some spray and the stewards got him into the recovery position waiting for the ambulance. It turned out that Mark had to be air lifted to Galway hospital and within 2 hours had been diagnosed with a blood clot blocking one of the values to his heart, they also fitted a stent to another partially blocked artery. All the anglers were pretty much in shock and I let Helen and Kevin who organize the match know what was going on, they came down and sorted what needed to be done in terms of getting in touch with relatives and taking care of Marks gear and van. Thanks must also go to Fiona and Steve Beeby, Steve is one of arks best friends and also fished the match, Fiona even took clothes and went down to Gallway to be with Mark. All in all the nursing and surgical staff at Gallway couldn’t have been better and are a credit to the health service over here – to be operated on in under 2 hours and able to sit up and chat plus make jokes about it the following day is a miracle! Mark does however have a dark side to his humor and asked who had put first dibs on his tackle!

Mark got out of hospital on the Friday and even made it to the closing presentation ceremony in Carrick-on-Shannon where an emotional reunion took place between him and the paramedic who saved his life, something I will never forget as I was stood next to him at the time. Mark if you are reading this then look after yourself and see you on many many more World Pairs competitions in the future!

Back to the fishing, our start was delayed and obviously my mind was not really on the job. I fished a feeder long and short, I did commit a cardinal sin in that having caught a couple of skimmers I hooked a bream and it came off right in the peg killing the swim for nearly two hours in the middle of the match. They returned with 20 minutes to go and I had 4 skimmers in the last 4 chucks… A disappointing day fishing wise but to be honest I didn’t care as all I could think about all day was my friend and if he was ok. I weighed another 8kg and the section was won with 12 so it could have been worse.

Day 3 – Wednesday, repetitive strain injury!

Now we moved onto the slightly better sections, and being in Enniskillen meant there was a chance of some big weights. I drew on Killadeas a section that I have fished may times in the past and the day before the lowest weight on the whole section was 18 kilos, with 38 winning. Unfortunately today was another kettle of fish, I knew there was an opportunity to catch short, Killadeas has a ledge at about 35 yards where it goes much deeper which means you normally fish at least 45 yards to get over the ledge and give yourself a chance of getting the fish up quick enough to miss the ledge which can be quite snaggy. I decided at the outset having spoken with the steward that I was going to start at 30 turns still in the shallow water where it is 10 – 12ft deep as this is where the lads the previous day chucked it and caught. I’ve made this mistake before at Killadeas and ended up getting bashed up so I had it in my mind that unless I caught straight from the off I would immediately switch to the deeper water, 10 minutes into the match I had started getting a bite a chuck but was missing quite a few which were very small fish, changing to a 10 hook solved the problem and 4 red maggots made all the difference. I caught steadily all match but the stamp of fish was small, in fact this was the case along the whole section that day as the fancied pegs to my left on the floating jetty even struggled where the 30kg+ weights had been the day before. I ended up with 174 fish all on the feeder at 30 yards, by the end of the match I had repetitive strain injury as I must have cast in over 300 times and wound fish as quickly as I could. I won the section on the day with 19kg so nowhere near as good as the lads the day before on Killadeas but a satisfying feeling to have won and picked up again, but it was beginning to look like our rotation was not treating us as well as it should be! Mind you never complain about 40lb of roach eh!

What could I have done to catch more fish given the conditions and the smaller stamp of fish in the section – not much more if I’m honest, again perhaps it would have been quicker if I had setup a waggler to fish mid depth at 3 – 4 rods and fed soft balls of crumb but that would have meant that any chance of better fish would be given up but would have meant weighing perhaps 23 – 25kg. Swings and roundabouts and all in all I fished a good match as there was only 10 and 11kg either side of me.

Day 4 – Brackley and Bunerky, a battle on the pole!

These two lakes had been fishing consistently with around 16 – 20kg wining each of the previous days. A theme was begging to appear though in that the skimmers and hybrids were tending to stick to the deeper parts. Both Brackley and Bunerky have deeper sections so this is where we wanted to draw. Pulling my peg out on Bunerky put me on peg 6 which is still in the bay and not far enough up the section for skimmers, at least I knew I was only fishing for roach and the odd hybrid.

Today I had Cathal Hughes two pegs to my right on peg 4 – now For those of you who don’t know he is probably one of the very best in the world at this type of fishing and also the defending champion from last year so I had my work cut out! At least I would very quickly find out if what I was doing was the right crack. What makes Cathal and his partner Phil ‘Jacko’ Jackson so good out there is that they are quick, not only are they fishing the right method at the right time but they are very quick and I mean super quick! I invite anyone who thinks they are quick to come and fish the World Pairs next year and wait till you draw near these two… You might be in for a shock!

Mostly everyone setup poles and feeders with the odd waggler. Cathal setup a pole and feeder, we both had waded to the absolute maximum distance out allowed, the rules in the World Pairs is that you are allowed to wade up to our knee – jokingly before the start I shouted over to Cathal saying he was too far out, a good humoured volley of abuse in some sort of Irish slang quickly came back…. I proceeded to the car park and instructed all anglers passing the afore mentioned Mr Hughes to mention politely how far out he was wading, safe to say by the time 2 or 3 had gone past him he got the joke! Mind you Confucius says ‘when Irish man stand in water up to his knee must be careful not to get bottom wet!’ LOL


Back to the fishing and we all started on the feeder, if only to get some bait into the peg. I had thrown 5 balls of sloppy ground bait packed with chopped worm on the pole line at 14 meters, Cathal had used a pole cup (to which I shouted over ‘are you fishing the winter league?’) anyway that’s obviously the way to do it!!! After 15 minutes on the feeder it was obvious there were quite a few fish in front of us and Cathal was 1st to go onto the pole, catching first bung and second meant I had to pick the pole up as well. For the next 2 hours we had a fish race and it was down to who could be most efficient and in and out quickly, the fish were not big averaging less than 4oz but there were plenty of them, the wind changed and almost immediately the tow changed from left to right to hard right to left – 5 minutes later and you couldn’t buy a bite on the pole!

Back to the feeder and odd fish to the end, this is where I’m not as quick as Cathal – he just does it week in week out and you just cannot compete, mainly I think because I was missing the odd bite (perhaps one in three or four) and Cathal was not. Come the end of the match I knew he had beat me but was pleasantly surprised to weigh 16kg, Cathal had 16.400 so just beat me….. Perhaps the couple of hybrids I missed the net with cost me the section… That will teach me to always use a landing net with even small hybrids as they go from perfectly still to ballistic as soon as you touch them and this is when the odd one escapes! I ended up 3rd in the 26 peg county section as there was a 16.100 in the Brackley section so dropping the couple of fish cost me dearly!

Day 5 – the last day and need a big weight!

Up until now my parter and I had just under 100kg and with the prizes going down to 10th place we reckoned to needing about 150kg to get in. The last day saw us going to Garradice meaning there was a good chance of a decent weight as it had been the most consistent section all week with one bream weight of 40kg and an average of probably 15 – 20kg a man per day…. We were in with a chance of a place although any chances of winning had long gone as Cathal and Jacko were also on Garradice plus loads of other guys in the top 10 on 120kg plus already it was a long shot for us to frame.

After the draw I was reasonably optimistic as I had peg 13 on Connollys Shore and Richard was in the middle of Church where it had been very consistent. My peg at the start of the week had a 25 and 26kg… But Wednesday went to 18 and Thursday it had only 14…. I wondered why. Anyway I knew that I needed 25kg and was going to fish for a weight and not mess about. Once I got to the peg it was obvious why the weights had dropped off as my peg had half the depth of those to my right as I was on the left hand end of the section, the other main problem was that there was no wind which is extremely unusual for Ireland – when fishing on any of these lakes in Ireland it’s always preferable to have a good chop on the water and fishing is best when it’s blowing a good few waves onto your shore…. Today we were in the doldrums and it at times was like glass. So in hindsight I would have caught more by fishing a small feeder like the window ones that all the German anglers seem to use, my plan on the other hand was to get through 6 pints of crushed casters and 2 kilos of worms – half an hour into the match it was a struggle as I could only catch small roach and those to the right were getting 10oz to 1lb hybrids… The writing was on the wall as the fish were in the deeper water where they had moved once they had a bit of pressure and it wasn’t also helping with my great big feeder landing on their heads! I changed plan and went further but there was no depth there either, Jacko had drawn 2 to my right and before the start we compared the depths of our pegs, I had a count of 4 and he had a count of 8… He was fishing for everything that swam and was catching steadily and by the end he had 70 hybrids putting in a near perfect performance. Chatting to Jacko before the start he and Cathal reckoned on wanting 20kg each to be in with a very good chance and it was obvious that Phil was doing his half of their target weight so all depended on Cathal in A section.

As soon as the all out sounded Cathal was on the phone admitting to 25kg – the day before when we were on Bunerky he was saying he had 8kg and weighed in 16 so Jacko knew they had done enough to defend their title but had to temper his excitement as there is obviously there is the chance of a big weight being thrown into the mix from someone in the chasing pack. Cathal had fished the pole all day on Houghtons Shore and weighed 27kg giving them a total of nearly 185. My festival was over and what a great weeks fishing, on the last day I had struggled but still put 10kg on the bank, Richard had 19kg from Church so we knew then we were nowhere near the frame.

I have to say that this is the first time I have stayed in Southern Ireland and was a little apprehensive because of the rumors of high prices for food and beer, the week opened my eyes to how friendly and welcoming everyone was, beer was not expensive (well not any more than in the north) and Some of the pubs in Ballinamore put on special deals for the anglers. Smyths Pub in the town is well worth a mention as all the food was freshly cooked and although you had to wait for it was worth it! Another bar that you might want to try is Jackies on the high street, Jackie gives a really warm welcome and we enjoyed a few beers there with a game of darts thrown in.

A special thanks to Brian who owned our Accommodation (Lakeview House) just outside Ballinamore, he really looked after us and even have us a lift into town a few times and found some pleasure fishing spots for us which was awesome! This really has been a fantastic week, I’ve caught over 60kg of fish and only just snuck into the top 50 of what has been one of the best fields of match anglers ever assembled.

The presentation ceremony took place in Carrick-on-Shannon where Phil and Cathal were crowned for the 2nd year, Phil was already talking about defending next year but not drinking much as he was fishing the next day on Muckno …. There’s dedication to your sport – if we had won I think I would still be recovering now from the hangover, but perhaps that’s why we didn’t win! Anyway if anyone ever questions if angling is all luck then hold this match result up as a prime example of when skill and knowledge matters more, Phil and Cathal finished 20kg clear of the field and now set the standard to beat in match angling in Ireland – well done lads, truly well done and i look forward to seeing you next year!

A very special thanks needs to go out to Lakelands and Inland Waterways Ireland and Daiwa for sponsoring the competition, I hope it runs for many years to come!

Lastly and most importantly I wanted to thank Helen Rainsford and Kevin Locke for organising and running the competition, I know they put masses of work into the event through the year and it culminates with a week of enormous stress for them both – you guys are great and a credit to our sport!

Ballinamore has something for everyone


Ballinamore has something for everyone :

some festivals 2013

Aug 10 – 18 Ballinamore Family Festival
Aug 22 – 26 Ballinamore Free Fringe Festival

Whats the best way to recover from one festival – get stuck into the next one

when all that has passed we’ll be just ready for the World Pairs Angling Championship week beginning Sunday September 8th followed swiftly by the Leitrim Roots Festival later in September 2013

Hamill’s are so pleased to be involved in welcoming people to town for all these events – its great to see our diverse visitors enjoying all Ballinamore has to offer. and if they choose to stay at Hamill’s B&B then that’s a bonus of course.

Ballinamore Free Fringe Festival


Ballinamore Free Fringe Festival

kicks off this evening with great line up of free entertainment all over town for 3/4 nights. Great atmosphere with talented artists around every corner. Hamill’s B&B are chuffed to provide accommodation for some of these great acts – hope they’ll remember us when they become famous !

Ballinamore Family Festival


Ballinamore Family Festival

A wonderful festival was organised for all our locals and visitors by the hard working voluntary committee. Thank you all for all the effort and a job well done. A Brilliant line up of free street entertainment including Mick Flavin, Patrick Feeney, Jump at the sun – following from 2012 when free line up included Nathan Carter and Reverb.

Ballinamore Festival 2013


Ballinamore Festival 2013

It’s nearly here.  Sunday Aug 11th  an action packed week of Fun and a brilliant line up of Free Entertainment.  We hope all our visitors to Hamills and to Ballinamore have another great Festival in Ballinamore

Where Hamill’s guests like to visit

Where Hamill’s Guests like to visit

Giants Causeway must be very busy these days if Hamills guests are any barometer – everyone seems to have Giants Causeway  on their list, that and Enniskillen Castle, Marble Arch caves and of course Cliffs of Moher.

Locally Arigna Mines, Glenview Museum, and Cavan / Leitrim  Railway at Dromod are very popular

A lovely Mc Gahern opportunity

A lovely McGahern opportunity

Just to remind everyone that Frank Brennan’s Mc Gahern Literary tour is taking place at the moment.  From your Ballinamore base, you can join the tour on Thursday July 25th 2013.  If you’d like any information on it contact us at Hamills or call /text Frank.   086 2418 053.  As always we highly recommend this – Frank shares Mc Gahern’s appreciation of the wonderful area that surrounds Ballinamore and he really brings it to life in a very special way.