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Ireland’s Fishing Grounds

Fishing has always played an important role in human culture, whether on a recreational or an industrial level. People have always relied on the marine environment as a source of food.

1608 Map of Ireland
Abraham Ortelio and Jan Baptista Vrients, Irlandiae Accurata Descriptio, 1608

Ireland is located close to some of the richest fishing grounds. For this reason local and foreign fleets have fished off its coast since medieval times. Fishermen had easy access to fish that frequented Ireland’s shallower coastal waters. However, they only had to travel a short distance before reaching deep waters where they could catch fish such as hake and ling (Rynne, 2006, pp.199-200). This meant that Ireland was well-situated to develop a fishing industry.

In 1673, Sir W. Temple wrote to Lord Essex that ‘the early fishing in Ireland might prove a mine under water, as rich as any under ground’ (Sir T. Charles Morgan cited in Molloy, 2004, p.33). In another seventeenth-century source, Pacata Hibernia, Berehaven and Bantry Bay are mentioned. It suggests that ‘the coast yields such abundance of sea fish as few places in Christendome doe the like’ (O Sullivan, 1992, p.38).


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