It must have been up there as one of Northern Ireland’s toughest jobs — plying the salmon runs from a tiny cottage perched on the cliff at Carrick-a Rede island.
The fishermen are long gone but yesterday the restored 400-year-old cottage threw open its doors having lain empty since 2002. Visitors who will now be able to learn for themselves what it was like trying to make a living from the tumultuous seas.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill was there to cut the ribbon on the new guided visitor experience, which will bring a sense of connection with the famous Antrim coast rope bridge thanks to a partnership between the National Trust and DARD/North East Region (NER) Local Action Group.
Large numbers of oral histories have been recorded for the restoration project, capturing the memories and stories of those who were associated with salmon fishing.
Acki Colgan, the last fisherman to work Carrick-a Rede, provided many of the memories. Now aged 76, he told how he took over the fishing licence when his uncle died and ended up working there for more than 25 years.
“I must have been around 40. My uncle had been there for 40 years or so. At that time the salmon were going down gradually,” he said.
“It was never steady — you had bad years and good years, but it got to be there were more bad years than good years.
“Years ago they lifted the boat every day, but in the last year or two we never. It was the worst place on the coast to fish. Everything had to be pulled up and you worked with your face to the cliff. It was hard work to work it.”
For further information visit www.nationaltrustIni.org.uk