“And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
Over the past year I had the privilege of visiting on two occasions with David & Elizabeth Ross at Drimoleague, Co Cork, Ireland. David is Pastor of Bantry Christian Fellowship. In addition to Pastoring the Church David & Elizabeth have a Farm and tourist business (Top of the Rock – Pod Pairc and Walking Centre) located at Drimoleague. While there I took a walk along the River Ilen, which flows alongside part of the Ross’s Farm. Beside the River I came across a wooden Sculpture of a Fish with the title ‘The One That Got Away’. When I arrived back at the Ross’s home I asked David what was the story regarding the fish. David went on to say that the story was quite interesting and that he had written about it in the local paper. The following is the article David wrote:
The One That Got Away
Wherever fish are caught there is a tendency to exaggerate, and none more so than in a small parish such as Drimoleague with just one river running through it. Many are the tales that could be told of the fish that got away on the Ilen River in days gone by. None however match the story of a very big fish indeed who appeared by the stepping stones at Ahanafunsion Bridge in mid-September this year. The six foot long ‘’ fish sculpture’’ was commissioned by the Walkway Committee and was expertly carved by a wood sculptor called Nathan Solomon who presently lives at Lahana, Drimoleague. In the wood yard at the east end of the village, Nathan found a huge piece of macrocarpa or ‘palm tree’ and he set about the task of carving a seating bench with a magnificent salmon on top of it. The carving shows profound detail, right down to the knot which became the eye of the fish.
In late September the fish was placed beside the bridge awaiting its permanent position. What was not expected was that an unusual level of rainfall on the night of Tuesday 26th September should rise the flood levels to such an extent that the great salmon was lifted high upon the tide and found itself being carried downriver. The committee was alerted by a local lady Noreen O Connell as to the disappearance of the fish and a plea went out on the Southern Star and on C103 for any sightings to be reported.
The call was answered by Nick Hegarty who checked his section of the river at Bishopsland in Caheragh and found the fish sculpture lodged on a small island in middle of the raging torrent. Subsequently he and a few others floated the fish back to shore, and with the help of a Glenilen van it was brought back to the Top of the Rock in quite a damaged condition. Once again Nathan Solomon was called in to see what could be done to salvage the fish. With great care he managed to splice a new block of wood onto the damaged tail and then to carve it to perfectly match what was there before. On reflection it was decided also to engrave the words ‘’THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY’’ on the bench so that the story of the sailing salmon might be imprinted upon the folklore of the River Ilen for years to come.
The salmon seat can now be seen in its permanent position at Ahanafunsion Bridge and unless we get a flood of truly Biblical proportions it should provide a nice place for families to sit and rest awhile, and ponder on all the other fish that got away and were never brought to land.