People of the Wild Atlantic Way Photography Project –
Margaret Downey Harrington – Castletownbere, West Cork.
‘I’ve been involved in the fishing industry all my life, my father was a fisherman and my grandfather and great grandfather were fishermen. I’ve always had a deep connection with the sea.
A cherished memory from childhood is a practice that fishermen call ‘shading’ and if I close my eyes now I can visualize it as if it were yesterday. A whole lot of things must come together at the right time for it to happen, like getting all the ingredients together to bake a Christmas cake. Firstly, on a low tide, you need a lovely quite, still, peaceful morning, usually in May, with no wind, not even a puff of a baby’s breath, just stillness. With the particular crystal clear light the water is very clear and you can see right through it, and see the scallops on the sea bed. Fishermen used a tool not unlike a shrimp net to catch them.
I can remember times being out in a boat with my father, the stillness and peacefulness was like time standing still, I couldn’t even talk, I had to be perfectly still and not make a sound. The ‘shading’ could last only half an hour, a slight gentle breeze could come up and the moment would be gone. Its so fickle, so delicate, a moment in time when everything aligns. you would only get a handful of those days in a year, it either happens or it doesn’t, that’s it. Once the breeze comes up the moment is gone.
Coming home with a bag of scallops and cooking them in their shell with a knob of butter on an open fire was the perfect way to end the perfect day.’