The first of almost 200 young anglers representing some 14 countries around the world began arriving in Coachford, on the upper reaches of the River Lee in Co Cork yesterday ahead of the World Youth Coarse Fishing Championships this weekend.
And they got their first glimpse of the magnificent competition course on Inniscarra Lake which includes the Coachford Greenway — a 2.8km walkway which has been developed along the Lee — and got an opportunity to inspect their pegs and cast a few practice lines ahead of the competition stages.
Coachford, which successfully hosted the Feeder World Championships in 2014, is now poised for a major end-of-summer economic boost with the event expected to generate an estimated 5,000-plus bed nights for the region.
Competitors, team delegates, their families and travelling supporters are availing of accommodation in Macroom and Blarney, with many more using campus accommodation in nearby Cork city.
The competition, the most prestigious event in the Fédération Internationale de la Pêche Sportive en Eau Douce’s calendar, is being hosted by the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland.
The federation has been working closely with the Inniscarra Lake Tourism Development group to ensure everything is in place for one of the biggest competitions it has hosted to date.
Junior members of the Aghabullogue camogie club and members of Coachford Foróige will, with the help of the Ballingeary Pipe Band, lead the young competitors in a Parade of Flags through Coachford at 6pm on Thursday.
The mayor of Co Cork, Declan Hurley, will then receive the flags of the competing nations before the competition is declared open.
A total of 36 teams will compete in categories including Under 15, Under 20 and Under 25 with some competitors as young as nine.
The U20s and U25s will compete along the Coachford Greenway, where the water has an even depth of more than 1.5m and the river is 500m at its narrowest and up to 800m at its widest.
The U15s will compete a short distance downstream along a 600m course at the Garden Centre stretch, accessed via Griffin’s Garden Centre.
The Greenway recently secured a further €187,000 in funding to enhance the facility. It is hoped that the amenity will ultimately achieve National Trails Status with Sport Ireland soon.
In August 2013 the ESB, which manages the Inniscarra Reservoir, entered into a 25-year licence agreement with Inniscarra Lake Tourism Development Ltd to support the construction of the greenway.