The Fishery

The Laune is the principal river in Co. Kerry. Its clear unpolluted water flows from the lower lake of Killarney into Castlemaine harbour and then on to join the Atlantic in Dingle Bay.

Within these walls in 1849 a partnership of salmon buyers was established which was to trade for more than a century. The men involved were Samuel Keays of cork City, Messrs. G. Ronayne of Youghal, Co. Cork, and local man William Dodd. They traded as K. R. D. These initials could be seen on their wooden boxes at the great fish depots of Dublin, England and France. The Laune salmon was much in demand and could be found on the menus of many leading hotels and restaurants. The K.R.D. firm employed a workforce of over fifty fishermen, and hauls of eighty to one hundred salmon were not uncommon.

January 17th each year had been the traditional date for the start of the salmon net fishing on the river Laune for the K.R.D. Company. The season ran until June/July. Generations of men from the Steelroe district had good seasonal employment as fishermen for K.R.D. The work of handling the boats and nets was more or less a specialised job and had been handed down from father to son and grandson.

The boat builder was Thomas Naughton of School Road. Brendan Mangan was the net-maker, and the weighmaster was Michael Sullivan, Sunhill. The manager was Jeremiah Mangan, Langford Street; and Denis Reilly, Steelroe was charged with transporting the boxes of fish to Killorglin Railway Station for export to England.

For preserving fish two icehouses were built close to the town near Farrantooreen Lake. These were dug twenty-five feet into the ground, stone lined and thatched. Entry was through a small opening where the ice taken from the lake in those artic winters was stored. The ice was to be used as required for preserving the salmon in the transit boxes. This system endured for many years until the advance of science found a way to produce ice artificially.