One of the reasons why I recently travelled to the west coast of Ireland was to take a rest before my college exams. Another reason was to take pictures of the Erne Fishery Case Monument. The monument commemorates a famous court case that involved local fishermen challenging the private owners of a salmon fishery in the Erne Estuary. The idea was that anyone who wanted to should be able to fish for salmon in the area and not just the owners of the fishery. After many years they won their case and the mouth of the river Erne became a public fishery. This monument celebrates the outcome with the names of the local fishermen who took the case.
The monument doesn’t mention what happened next though. Once the Erne became a public fishery huge numbers of people crowded onto the river to take the salmon. The local fishermen found that they couldn’t make a living from the river after all. Instead, the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) took over the river and built a hydroelectric dam. This meant that there were now very few salmon for anyone. As usual, the real winners of the court case were the lucky lawyers who made lots of money out of a case that dragged on for so long. They never bothered to put up a monument though.