Business closures may see pandemic-hit Cork fishing festival scrapped for good

There used to be two hotels in Fermoy. The last closed recently and there has also been a fall-off in the number of B&B’s
Business closures may see pandemic-hit Cork fishing festival scrapped for good

IE MUNSTER SUPPLEMENT (FOR JOE DERMODY) 27/5/11 ... /Fishing on the River Blackwater, Fermoy. Picture Denis Minihane.

A renowned Cork coarse angling festival which has been cancelled three times due to Covid-19 has now fallen victim to a lack of accommodation and is in jeopardy of being scrapped for good.

Around 120 anglers from all over the country and Britain would normally attend such festivals when held on the River Blackwater in Fermoy, Co Cork – generating huge revenue for the local economy.

Fermoy Coarse Angling Association (FCAA), which has hosted very successful festivals for many years, was forced to cancel two last year and a further one last May due to the pandemic.

“We'd hoped to be able to stage the October festival. All our very loyal English visitors were really looking forward to coming to Fermoy. However, we've been forced to cancel it yet again. This time the cancellation is due to the lack of suitable accommodation and tackle shops in Fermoy,” club chairman Joe Slattery said.

'Disastrous void'

There used to be two hotels in Fermoy. The last closed recently and there has also been a fall-off in the number of B&B’s.

Mr Slattery said this left a “disastrous void” in promoting tourism, adding it's also having an impact socially as there's a lack of venues for family get-togethers, sports events and business functions.

FCAA was founded in 1957 as a means of attracting overseas tourist anglers to the town and in 1968 hosted the World Coarse Angling Championships.

“We attracted anglers in huge numbers from then to the present day. This brought massive economic benefits. Down the years we'd see more than 120 anglers turn up,” club secretary Tommy Lawton said.

Many anglers made the events their annual holiday, some bringing families with them. Some are still visiting 40 years on.

“We had some great tackle shops in Fermoy. Now there aren't any and visitors have to travel to Coachford (126km round trip) to get fresh bait, hooks, etc. We understand online shopping has damaged these types of businesses, but when you can’t get basic supplies of bait locally this leaves yet another void,” Mr Lawton said.

Both he and Mr Slattery urged local politicians “to pull out all the stops” to rectify the problems which are severely impacting tourism, otherwise it may be impossible to mount future angling festivals on the River Blackwater.

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