Half a dozen nervous horses break into a gallop along the exposed edge of Hog Island. Manes flapping wildly in the Irish bluster, they hurtle down a grassy ridge known as the Hog’s Back. Looking at the curved and porky outline of the Island from the end of Cappagh Pier, you can see how it got its name. Hidden from view behind the Hog’s Back lies the larger Scattery Island. Out across the estuary — a thin green fringe of north Kerry coast points towards the open Atlantic.
A few boats cling to the side of the stone pier, bobbing and creaking. One of them coughs into life as anglers begin to lower gear on deck and climb down the steps to board. Karen Ann is a local charter fully equipped with electronic navigation, echo sounder and all the essential safety gear.
The cheerful skipper of the boat is Martin Brennan – a seasoned local seaman who doubles as coxswain of the Kilrush pilot boat. Steve Scanlon is Martin’s number two who takes the helm when Martin is on pilot duty. Among the anglers joining them on board is Colin Daly, an experienced sea angler and the secretary of the Limerick Sea Anglers Club.
It’s a fresh June morning with a fair to brisk breeze blowing. Karen Ann chugs out into the sheltered harbour where the water is fairly calm. As soon as he opens his mouth you can tell Colin Daly is not a regular west coaster. It’s something to do with the vowels and the distinct lack of unintelligible brogue. Yer man is actually from Greenford in west London – though he does have Irish blood on his father’s side. He decided to leave his job in the capital in 1989 and moved to the Emerald Isle. He and his wife Jo now run a guest house -called Garraun Lodge – near Limerick. ‘Anglers come over from France, Holland, Germany and the UK and stay at the guest house. Jo is a brilliant cook – double helpings of everything.’