An Unforgettable Memory

This story is set in the picturesque Muckross National Park in Killarney, Co. Kerry. Every summer as far back as I can remember, we as a family would annually travel down to Kerry and stay in an old farmhouse in Brewsterfield on the outskirts of Killarney for a consecutive month, we were graced by having access to the Muckross National Park. As a youth I was greatly fond of fishing and would regularly take advantage of the fantastic fishing opportunities offered by the lakes in this park. We would go down to Dun Dag, a sandy lake shore or beach as we liked to call it, on the Muckross Lake to swim most evenings and BBQ on occasion. One particular evening I remember a group of swimmers arriving down to the beach. With them was a retired lecturer whom had taught my mother and father back in the stone age, they began to catch up when the professor mentioned that there had been a number of incidents where lamprey eels would attach themselves to the swimmer’s wetsuits, mistaking them for salmon as they swam across the lake to Dinas Cottage. Upon reflection, I seem to remember the lecturer noticing my reaction as soon as he mentioned the lampreys and in turn further exaggerated the episodes sparing no detail, painting a farfetched picture that I vividly remembered for weeks. As a young teenager, this frightened the life out of me, the thoughts of these monstrous fish latching on to you while you swam across the lake, it was a sure thing that I avoided swimming in the lake for the remainder of the summer, however it did not stop me from fishing!
I had almost put this image of a man-eating beast lurking in the waters of the middle lake out of my head. One evening, my father and I ventured to the park, he would usually take the opportunity to walk around the scenic park, while I went down to my favourite fishing point on the lake, ‘the boathouse’, a beautiful secluded venue where I had been very successful in the past, catching small trout and perch of a size not worth mentioning, however the thrill of actually catching fish and the tranquillity were plenty enough for me. The boatmen that would usually take tourists across the lake to ‘Dinas’ had wrapped up for the evening and there wasn’t a stir around, the water was so still, it was almost glass like and the sun gently retiring, reflecting the vibrant red sky on the surface of water. I had cast away and was simply enjoying the peace and quiet, when I saw the tip of the rod flinch, followed by this almighty pull, I instantaneously knew this was a big fish with the resistance felt in my hands, immediately the ‘Jaws’ theme song and amplified illustrations of these monstrous lampreys began racing around in my head. I was terrified of what was on the other end of my line, but the fear was followed by adrenaline and after fighting with this fish for 20 minutes, I finally managed to land it. When my father finally arrived back from what seemed like a century long walk, he described me as being as white as a ghost with a smile like a cheshire cat. In the end, the monster from my nightmares turned out to be a 3lb bottom feeding tench. I have never caught a fish of a similar size in a lake since and I will never forget that day.