Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

seven shillings a week, even when employed by night as well as by day. The fish is commonly exported to Liverpool, being conveyed from the river in a small sloop to be put on board the Liverpool vessels in Killala Bay. The total export of salmon this year is supposed to amount to from 120 to 130 tons, and reckoned to realise to the proprietors a profit of near 50001. These gentlemen pay a rental of 11001. for the fishery, besides a constant outlay of about 5001. for watching and protecting the haunts of the fish. The present season has been particularly successful.

The small village called The Quay is almost entirely occupied by fishermen. The cottages are small and untidy, and not half-furnished. There is a small plot of ground attached to most of them, to the extent of 16 or 17 perches; the rent varying from 20s. to 30s. per annum. There are about forty fishermen in this village, or rather forty men whose avowed occupation is fishing ; for they assured me that very few of them could follow their trade for want of the necessary means. They said that nearly all their boats have gone to decay; and, since the years of famine, they have not been able to get either new boats or nets, or other necessary tacķle. The men were strong and active-looking, and expressed themselves as most anxious to follow their occupation if they were enabled to do so.

I asked these men if they would and could pay a weekly rent for boats and tackle, if they were provided by others. They caught eagerly at the idea,

and said that every man would willingly pay a shilling per week for the use of the boat, &c. If these statements are correct-and I see no reason for doubting them- the facts stated seem to indicate as great a want of enterprise among the commercial class in Ireland, as among the people themselves. Surely in such a town as Ballina some individual, or some association of individuals, might be found, who, merely as a commercial speculation—to say nothing of higher considerations—might give these poor men the means of following their employment. It seems strange that the mere desire of obtaining a better fish-market-which, I believe, hardly exists at present in Ballina-should not, of itself, set on foot some such undertaking. There can, I think, be little doubt that it would pay, even commercially: that it would inevitably pay most richly in the higher mart of benevolence, there can be no doubt at all.

It was really most painful, and in many ways, to see those fine sturdy fellows—willing to work, and able by their work to support their families and benefit the public at the same time—all loitering idly at their cottage-doors, and half-starved, solely because no man or men among their neighbourswho must be aware of their condition—would take the trouble to consider the means whereby their evils might be removed. The least consideration, I am convinced, would inevitably lead to their removal.

I feel the more assured of the success of this plan of supplying the fishermen with boats, &c. at a weekly or annual rent, because I know it to have been a custom formerly in use among the fishermen in some parts of Scotland; the proprietor of the village supplying all the boats, and leasing them out for a term of years, under a contract of repair and renewal at certain fixed times.

While writing out these Memorandums, I have received from a friend a communication on the subject of the Scottish practice, which I subjoin. From this it appears that the custom prevalent when I had a knowledge of the country, some fifty years since, has now become obsolete; but the fact of its existence so long sufficiently proves its practicability. Whether my Irish friends might, by greater care in the organisation of the plan, eschew the causes of its decay in the Banffshire fishing villages, I do not know; but, at any rate, the prospect of even temporary success ought, in my opinion, to be reason sufficient for attempting its introduction at Ballina and elsewhere along the west coast of Ireland, under the state of distress now so painfully prevalent there. My friend's statement is as follows:

“About twenty years ago the proprietors on the east coast of Scotland, particularly those of the fishing villages on the Banffshire coast, Port-Gordon, Buckie, Portessie, Findochty, and Portknockie, were in the practice of affording to a crew of fishermen (six in number) a new boat, at a cost of 251. or 281.; the fishermen supplying, at their own expense, sails, rigging, &c. They paid the proprietor in money and

fish to the amount of 61. 6s. per annum for the space of seven years. This sum stood also as payment for the privilege of landing their boats, and as groundrent for their houses. At the end of seven years the boat was considered to be worn out; when the crew paid the proprietor 11. as the value of the old boat, and the proprietor in return paid the crew 111. 58. to aid them to get a new one: this was called the short run, and was renewed at the end of every seven years, upon the regular payment of 61. 6s. yearly. The crew had to give the boat all the necessary repairs she might require during this term at their own expense.

The fishermen had to find themselves in all their fishing materials, namely, nets, lines, &c.

“ The above plan appeared to work well for a long time.

It is now, however, almost done away with. It became a difficult matter for the proprietors to get the fishermen to keep together : they were always breaking up their crews, through quarrels amongst themselves, and of course the rents were but indifferently paid; so much so, that the proprietors have now in general declined to assist them with new boats. The general practice now is for each fisherman to pay the proprietor 10s. 6d. for the privilege of landing his boat, and from 10s. 6d. to 12s. 6d. for the ground-rent of his house, yearly.”

I subjoin, in a note, the remaining portion of my I“ The haddock fishing commences here about the 1st of October, and continues until the end of May. The fishermen sell all their fish to the fish-curers, who smoke them for the Glasgow, Leith, London,

friend's communication, as containing some statistics which may also be useful in Ireland.

The National Schools at Ballina are on the usual excellent plan. At the time of my visit to the boys' school there were on the books 175, but only 60 present. The average attendance during the last year was about 100. The present comparatively small attendance was accounted for partly by the period of the year (harvest), by the vicinity of the vacation, and by the unfavorable effects of the recent election for Members of Parliament. There was only one Protestant at present in the school ; but at a former period there had been as many as twelve. The master is a Catholic, and gives the usual religious catechetical instruction at the stated times fixed by the Board. The parish priests visit the school for purposes of supervision and inspection, but never instruct the pupils in religion.

and Liverpool markets, where they bring from 20s. to 40s. per barrel, according to the supply. The curers pay the fishermen about 16s. for 156 haddocks; the barrel containing about 230 to 250 haddocks, and costing the curer 25s. the barrel, besides other charges and expense of transit.

“ From the 12th of July to the middle of September our fishermen occupy themselves in prosecuting the herring fishing, and, in general, with very good success. The average gain to the individual fisherman may run from 801. to 1001. per annum. The men certainly have a great deal of materials to keep up, so that, on the whole, they may be said to be in debt.

*The population of Buckie is about 2700, and the number of active fishermen 362. Thirty-two large boats go to the haddock fishing during the winter, and six smaller ones. Buckie also fits out about 175 boats to the herring fishing yearly. These boats, when new, cost from 601. to 701. each; and the fleet of nets about 701. to 801."

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »