Catching Brickeens

When I think of a favourite patch of water my mind immediately takes me back to the spot where I
spent many hours trying to catch brickeens during my childhood over 50 years ago. Some of my
cousins called these little ifsh pinkeens or minnows depending on where they lived.
The stream lfowed along the boundary of our meadow below the road. It is a narrow waterway
slowly meandering on its way to meet bigger waters. The best spot was where the corner of our
meadow met with our neighbours back garden. Here we had space to stretch out and watch quietly
from the side – hoping and waiitng paitently for a brickeen to swim into one of our jam jars
strategically placed.
The water lfowed gently and was probably only a foot deep in the centre during those wondearful
summer days. Grass stems swayed along the bank and the ifeld on the opposite side rose to a height
and was bright with buttercups and daisies. Some cows lazily chewed the cud at the top of the ifeld.
Neither they nor Nan our neighbour interrupted our play or serious ifshing.
We placed our jam jars atfer much planning and thought in the most secure spots among the
pebbles in the riverbed and behind any little clumps that jutted in from the sides. Long strings of
cord were ited around the tops of the jars for ease and speed of litfing if a brickeen swam in. Oh the
excitement of the catch! The precious catch was kept safely within some tall grasses for shade or
under a bush by the ditch while we played on trying to catch more.
Someitmes we made daisy chains while cooling our toes in the water. The clear water trickled
between our toes and large drops plopped down if we suddenly stretched back and quickly raised
our feet up. The pebbles and sand at the base and side of the stream were smooth and lovely to rub
between our ifngers or just for walking on when we thought we were wading. Once an eel passed
through but we had no interest in him. At the end of the day we would bring our brickeens safely
home and place the jars inside the lotf door. Here we checked regularly to ensure they escaped the
atteniton of the cat.
My memory is of the happiest of busy itmes playing in the clearest of waters in a little bit of heaven
in Galbally, Co. Limerick. I loved the spot.