Cormac MacConnell: The expensive search for mermaids’ purses

I have to issue a health and safety warning to all of you before proceeding any further today, says Cormac MacConnell.

Cormac MacConnell: The expensive search for mermaids’ purses

I have to issue a health and safety warning to all of you before proceeding any further today, says Cormac MacConnell.

It would be a very good idea for most of you to sit down in a safe place and relax your minds before reading further.

This is especially true for those trying to deal with our dreadful health and housing shortfalls as we quickly approach the Christmas season of alleged peace and goodwill.

For Heaven’s sake, if you are one of the hundreds lodged atop a trolley in one of our sorely-pressed hospitals nationwide, or if you are facing eviction from your home by one of these vulture funds, go away from here now and, if you are Christian, instantly commence a novena to St Jude, who used be the patron saint for hopeless cases, in simpler times.

I have to issue this warning, truly, because the exclusive news I picked up since last week has shocked even myself to the core.

So let’s begin.

Don’t we all know since childhood that mermaids do not really exist in our oceans?

They are similar to unicorns, in that they truly reside only in our imaginations and inside the pages of the first storybooks we read and enjoyed when we were at a lovely innocent age.

We are all, I think, agreed on that fundamental reality.

Accordingly, even my old fingers are trembling, as I state categorically here and now that our Government has recently spent millions of our scarce resources in a sustained search of our coastal waters for mermaids’ purses!

Our leaders had not enough cash to devise workable plans to ease the health and housing crises which have crippled the nation but, dammit, whilst they were making every excuse under the sun for failing in those critical areas, they were spending millions of our euro searching the deeps off the Wild Atlantic Way for mermaids’ purses.

And that costly exercise is still continuing, to the best of my considerable knowledge.

It’s surely enough to knock you out of your trolley.

And that’s a frightening truth that I’m prepared to stand over, against all and sundry.

When I got wind of the deadly situation this week, via trusted sources, I instantly sought confirmation and explanation from official sources. That triggered a response of the kind one expects nowadays from official mouths. The information that came back to me was given the kind of spin designed to throw me off the scent.

It was admitted that the millions had been spent, alright, but it was part of a project called INFOMAR, and was partly funded by our EC overlords in Brussels, whom we need so badly this winter on the backstop issue connected with Brexit.

It was also pointed out to me that the probe of our oceans, especially in the SACs (special areas of conservation), had been very exciting for marine experts, because deep-diving (using remote-controlled submarines with cameras) had revealed, for the first time, said the Government sources, the existence of an Irish shark nursery off our shores.

Nobody mentioned anything to me about mermaids’ purses, mark you, but I was nearly blinded with details of the shark nursery near a coral reef in one of our SACs.

Most of the pups who will emerge from this nursery, I can tell ye all, will be of a species called blackmouth catsharks, but the marine scientists, I was informed, were over the moon about the discovery also in the nursery of sailfin roughsharks, which are ugly poor devils of a breed in danger of total extinction.

Our new shark nursery, it seems, is a major discovery, of which we should be extremely proud, even if it has cost us millions of euro, to date.

I had to dig deeper, of my own accord, to discover that, yes, there are real mermaids’ purses scattered around the nursery and that these, my dear readers, are the names given by the marine biologists to the fertilised eggs laid in nooks and crannies of the coral reef to produce, in due time, roughshark pups and blackmouth catshark pups (which will have a better chance of survival, apparently, because of those nooks and crannies).

When I retorted that the cost of nursery care for our rising human children was causing huge concern everywhere this winter, I did not get any direct response at all, at all. In a Killaloe pub later in the week, discussing the situation, a witty Tipperary man quipped that we would only continue the way we always have done, once the nursery produces its new generation.

He said, “Sure we’ll send them all up to Leinster House out of the way”.

I could’nt do anything but laugh ruefully at that.

You learn something new every day, do you not.

Now you can regale your friends with how our Government, in hard times, has been spending millions of our hard-earned cash in pursuit of mermaids’ purses.

More in this section


Keep up-to-date with all the latest developments in Farming with our weekly newsletter

Sign up

Our Covid-free newsletter brings together some of the best bits from, as chosen by our editor, direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up
News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up