Creator: Deaglán Ó Mocháin, Production: Dearcán Media, Funded By: ILBF & BBC Gaeilge, Northern Ireland UK, 2×29′, 2020, Rights: World excluding UK and Ireland
In Magheraroarty in West Donegal, the O’Brien family fish for crab behind Tory Island and out towards the Scottish coast. It’s tough and unrelenting work.
John O’Brien skippers the Handa Isle with a crew of three, including his son Seán. Another son Colm skippers the Aoibh Áine, among the last of the boats fishing full time out of what was once a busy quay. With the price of crabs falling, the pressure is on to spend longer at sea just to remain in business.
John recalls when the seasonal fishing of salmon allowed them to switch to lobster, crab, mackerel and whitefish throughout the year, helping to preserve stocks, but a ban on salmon fishing in 2007 forced them to concentrate on crab, bringing to an end a fishing tradition, and a way of life that had lasted for generations.
It’s hard to imagine a future for fishing in this most marginal of communities, but it’s hard too to shake what’s in the blood, the generational instinct to fish the wild Atlantic.