Frank Buckland was a distinguished lecturer who by the 1860?s had become the embodiment of what a working Victorian naturalist should be. Someone who lived, breathed, and most shockingly in these politically correct times, ate his subject. He was a firm believer in the theory that all animals were put on this earth by the creator to serve man by providing a source of food, clothing or companionship. Consequently, when pronouncing on a new species of animal, whether insect, amphibian or primate, Buckland would also pronounce on its edibility ? noting how it had been cooked, its result and texture & flavour.
He did a great deal of work on Salmon fisheries, and as a result, was invited to Galway by the new owners of the Corrib River Salmon Fishery, Edmund & Thomas Ashworth. These brothers had plans to develop the fishery, which they had bought in 1852 through the encumbered estates court for £5,000. The Ashworths were entrepreneurs who had constructed the first ever salmon hatchery in the British Isles.
Buckland was drawn to the Corrib fishery which the Ashworths had been trying to develop with a new fish ladder, and hatching boxes containing brood fish taken directly from the river, close to the Salmon Weir. He described this first visit
?I walked up from the fishing-house to the weir, and just above the bridge perceived a number of dark-looking objects lying motionless in the glass-clear, ever-flowing water. The morning sun was shining bright, and I was fearful my shadow would fall on the objects, whatever they might be; so I dropped instantly on my hands and knees and bending forward craned my neck at them, feeling a sensation, I should imagine, similar to that experienced by a pointer dog, when making a discovery of a covey of partridges on 1st of September. Can those dark-looking bodies, then, be salomn? Oh! you shining lovely creatures! At last, then, I see you free and at liberty in your native element. Whence come ye? Whither are ye going??
In typical fashion he then tried to inspect it from the point of view of a salmon who would be using it, and lowered himself down from the platform until he heard a bailiffs voice behind him ?Bedad, your honour, you?re the finest fish I ever see in this ladder this long time; and, by the powers, if I had a gaff in my hand, I?d just strike in onto your scales and see how you would like it?.
This kind of activity endeared him to the general Galway public, who became fascinated by his work in changing the layout of the Salmon Weir. The Protestant Nautical Society had just constructed new premises, and were looking for someone to give an inaugural lecture. Buckland was invited, advertisements were placed in the newspapers and the hall was full. The lecture was so successful that it was proposed that the society?s rooms would be renamed Buckland Buildings.
This building would eventually become St. Nicholas? Parochial School in Waterside. It was demolished in 1964 to make way for the new school.
All of the above is taken from a fascination article by Tim Collins in the latest issue of the Galway Archaeological & Historical Society journal which is just published. As usual it is packed with fascinating material, and well illustrated. A must for any Galway Library. In good bookshop @?30
We have had a request for information on George Nicholls, T.D. for Galway from c.1918-1928. He was at one time County Registrar and helped found a pipe band for whom he bought all of the instruments. Miceál Ó Dubhsláine from An Gráig, Baile An Fheirtéirigh, Co. Kerry (Tel.066-9156214) is researching a book about Georges sister Eileen MacNiocaill, and is look for any help he can get.