Readers interested in seeking further knowledge about the subject matters contained in the
series "The Hawk of the Erne" may find the following list of books of some value.
First and foremost, based on readability, any book by Canadian author Roderick Haig-Brown.
English-born Haig-Brown (1908-1976) wrote 19 books in all, beginning with "Silver", a
novella, detailing the life of an Atlantic salmon from spawning to final capture. First
appearing in 1931, it was reprinted in 1989 by Lyons and Burford, Publishers, Inc, and has
recently been classed as juvenile literature. It can, however, be recommended to anglers of
Other works by Haig-Brown, with dates of publication, include: "Saltwater Summer" (1957),
"The Farthest Shores" (1960), "The Salmon" (1974), "The Master and His Fish" (1981),
"Fisherman's Fall" (1982), "Writings and Reflections" (1982).
His "A River Never Sleeps" (1946), re-issued in 1981 by Totem Books, Don Mills, Ontario,
at pp.331-342 contains a list of his own favourite books on fishing.
Anthony Netboy, in "The Atlantic Salmon--A Vanishing Species?" (1968) (Faber and Faber),
has a chapter headed "Ireland's Salmon Treasure" in which, among other historical gems, he
claims that "what was probably the world's first anti-pollution law" was passed by Dublin
Corporation, in 1466, more than 500 years ago, to guard against the destruction of salmon
in the River Liffey caused by effluents released by tanners and glove makers. This book
contains a photograph of the dam at Cathleen's Falls on the River Erne.
In his "The Salmon--Their Fight for Survival" (1973) (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston),
Netboy has another chapter headed "Salmon in Ireland", in which he again mentions the dam
at Ballyshannon "which drowned out a famous salmon leap".
Derek Mills in "Ecology and Management of Atlantic Salmon" (1989) (Chapman and Hall), has
published a graph detailing the catch taken by draft nets in the estuary of the River Erne
over two seasons "according to the time of day". That low catches were recorded from sunset
to sunrise should come as no surprise.
Mills and David Piggins were joint editors of "Atlantic Salmon: Planning for the Future",
being the proceedings of the Third International Atlantic Salmon Symposium held at
Biarritz, France, in 1986, copyright of which resides in The Atlantic Salmon Trust. In a
paper titled "Exploitation of Salmon in Ireland", T. K. Whitaker of the Salmon Research
Trust of Ireland reported the fall in salmon catch by rod and line between the 1950s and
the 1980s "from 16 per cent to a mere 3 per cent" of the total catch.
A series of five lectures by Dr. Arthur E. J. Went of the Department of Agriculture and
Fisheries, Ireland, delivered at the University of Guelph, Ontario; the University of New
Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.; Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, and the
University of Maine in the United States, has been published by the Atlantic Salmon
Association of Canada.
Fittingly, the last entry in this brief bibliography goes to Izaak Walton whose "The
Compleat Angler", first published in 1653, has been reprinted, on average, every three
years since 1676.
How does Walton measure up to the scientific observers of our times? Regrettably, not too
well in some instances.
The final sentence in his chapter on salmon has often been quoted, but will bear one more
"And lastly, I am to borrow so much of your promised patience as to tell you that the trout
or salmon, being in season, have, at their first taking out of the water (which continues
during life) their bodies adorned, the one with such red spots, and the other with such
black or blackish spots, as give them such an addition of natural beauty, as I think was
never given to any woman by the artificial paint or patches in which they so much pride
themselves in this age."
One remarkable feature of all the works above-mentioned is their genuine respect and
admiration for the salmon, something that permeates even the dullest portions of
scientific and academic research contained in them.
Surfers interested in Irish history may also consult the John O'Donovan translated version
of "The Annals of the Four Masters", republished in seven volumes by AMS Press, Inc.,
New York, in 1966. One cautionary note. The annals in large part are replete with yearly
accounts of battles and wars which make it appear that such was the natural state of the
country through the ages. Not so. In a majority of instances, a war was merely a cattle
raid and might have involved only ten, and seldom not more than forty, participants.
The seventh volume, which is the index, is an invaluable reference source.
The fascinating story of the compilation of the Annals of the Four Masters, more properly
titled the "AnnŠla Rioghachta …ireann", the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, can be found
in "Michael O Cleirigh and His Associates" by Rev. Brendan Jennings, O.F.M. (1936) (The
Talbot Press, Dublin).
Cat lovers, of course, will always enjoy T. S. Elliott's "Old Possum's Book of Practical
Cats", which forms the basis of Andrew Lloyd Webber's stunningly successful musical "Cats".
It has been my pleasure to cast "The Hawk of the Erne" on the waters of the Internet,
in the earnest hope that it will lead to the restoration of the Falls of Assaroe on the
River Erne, at "the kindly spot, the friendly town" lovingly limned by a fellow townsman
of mine in another era, the poet William Allingham. His full-length
poem "Adieu to Ballyshanny and the Winding
Banks of Erne" will be found in another series shortly to appear (D.V) at this Internet
I wish to thank the many readers around the globe who have already expressed their support
for the proposed restoration of the Falls of Assaroe, and the many more who will do so in
In conclusion, I should like to acknowledge the assistance of my daughter, Geraldine, in
guiding me through the intricacies of placing this series on the World Wide Web.
Copyright 1996 J. Ward
Legal Deposit, National Library of Canada
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