Salmon Survival at Sea

At a River Liffey Workshop at Carton House on the 4th September 2008 anglers were astonished to hear Dr. Paddy Gargan of the Central Fisheries Board state that in the past 20 years survival of salmon at sea had declined from 20% survival rate to 6% survival rate.

In order to investigate the increasing mortality of salmon at sea the European Union has in 2008 funded a multi million euro research project to look at what is happening to salmon survival at sea.

Marine research vessels from Ireland, Norway, Iceland and Canada will spend the next two years looking at salmon distribution, feeding, location, etc at sea and collect a wide range of parameters including temperature, food availability etc. Salmon captured will be traced back to home rivers by looking at the genetic make up of their scales. The Irish boat the Celtic Warrior was very successful on a cruise in May 2008 at capturing salmon post-smolts up as far as Faroes.

For more information click on   


Aliens Invade Ballymore Eustace


At an ‘Alien Invasive Species Information Seminar’ organised by Kildare County Council Heritage Department on the 20th November 2008 concern was expressed that the spread of alien or non-native plants and animals was causing problems to Kildares native wildlife countryside, forestry, rivers and lakes. Mention was made of Japanese Knotweed which has already invaded Ballymore Eustace at The Strand, Factory and Oliver Plunkett Street. It can grow through tarmac, concrete in houses etc and can cause serious economic problems. It can spread from tiny fragments of the plant or root of the plant so on no account should it be cut or flailed to eradicate it. It can be killed by use of a systemic weedkiller such as Roundup.

Other alien species such as Giant Hogweed were mentioned and alarmingly for Liffey Anglers, that Zebra Mussels have now invaded the Grand Canal.

For more information visit

or click on Links and then click on Invasive Species. 


Eastern River Basin District Management Plan

The Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan and Programme of Measures (PoM’s) was launched on the 22nd December 2008.  The Draft Plan will be subject to a six month public consultation period closing on the 22nd June 2009.

The following submission has been sent by Thomas Deegan, Member ERBDAC. 

"Submission on the Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan

River Basin Management Plan Comments
Project Co-ordinator, ERBD Project Office,
Dublin City Council, 68-70 Marrowbone Lane,
4th Floor, Dublin 8.

I have previously pointed out my concerns about the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 at the Water Matters Report 2007 and Working Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan stages but these have been totally ignored.

The Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan (ERBDMP) launched on Monday 22nd December 2008 once again fails to address or even mention problems associated with the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936.  All the costly Programme of Measures proposed for the River Liffey are absolutely useless as long as the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 remains in place un-amended.  The problems associated with the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 should have been addressed when the Water Quality Management Plan for the River Liffey Catchment was being drawn up by the Eastern Region Development Organisation (ERDO) but for reasons best known to ERDO they failed to do anything about them apart from ignoring the existence of the Act. The Draft Eastern River Basin District Management Plan is now following suit. 

There appears to be a sinister attempt to wipe the ESB off the Liffey as they don’t get a mention and it appears from reading the Draft ERBDMP that the Liffey was impounded only for public water supply and not for hydro electricity generation as well.  I don’t believe it is a coincidence that in a Report published in March 1985 by the Eastern Region Development Organisation on the Eastern Region Settlement Strategy 2011 in Appendix No.10 Sanitary Services we read “Dublin Corporation, who control the works at Ballymore Eustace have plans to develop the source to its ultimate capacity.  These proposals not only allow for significant development of the water treatment facilities at Ballymore Eustace but also call for Dublin Corporation to take over management of Poulaphuca Lake from the Electricity Supply Board.”  Elsewhere it states “it is important that Dublin Corporation assume control of the management of the reservoir.”  Is the ERBDMP a backdoor attempt to give Dublin City Council control of the management of Poulaphouca Reservoir by highlighting the water supply aspect and downgrading hydro electricity generation to the point of trying to wipe the ESB off the Liffey?  The ERBDMP, with regards to the Liffey, is totally biased towards public water supply.  The middle Liffey is dependant on generation floods released by the ESB to survive as a viable fishery and amenity.  Also, future development in County Kildare is also dependant on the constant release of generation flood water by the ESB to dilute and assimilate the discharges to the Liffey as it flows through the County.

Looking up the Draft Programme of Measures for the Liffey WMU  it states:
“River Liffey
Reason for designation: Flood Defences
Status: Good Ecological Potential
Measures for Rivers downstream of Reservoirs: Re examine compensation flow from ecological perspective. Implement a gravel loosening or gravel transportation from behind dams to the river (in consultation with Regional Fisheries Board and National Parks and Wildlife Service as appropriate.)”

It is hard to see how the Status can be described as “Good Ecological Potential” when raw sewage enters the River Liffey from Kildare County Council’s dilapidated sewage treatment plant at Ballymore Eustace and Osberstown WWTP also has its problems.  A study of the combined effects of three polluting local authorities discharging into a controlled flow Liffey at Ballymore Eustace should be undertaken and published.

The compensation flow for the Liffey downstream of the Reservoirs is set by the terms of the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936, which states in Section 6 of the Schedule to the Act “The Board shall at all times (including times at which the level of water in the Reservoir is below low water level as hereinafter defined) be at liberty to discharge water from the Reservoir in such a manner as the Board may think fit at a rate not exceeding 1.5 cubic metres per second averaged over each week from noon on Monday to noon on the following Monday as flow for compensation (hereinafter referred to as “compensation water”) as compensation water to the river downstream of the dam.”  That is the law of the land as it stands so there is no need to re-examine but there is a need to amend the Act so that no one or no body has the right to shut off the flow of the Liffey at Poulaphouca.

What is the point drawing up a Programme of Measures so long as the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 allows the ESB to reduce the flow of the Liffey at Poulaphouca.  Not only can the ESB reduce the flow of the Liffey, they can even shut off the flow of the Liffey if that suits their purpose.  If they were to reduce the flow, or God forbid, shut off the flow, the Liffey would become little better than a sewer and all the listed Programme of Measures could do nothing to prevent the pollution of the Liffey and the extinction of aquatic life and habitat that would result.

Also, under the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 there is no obligation on the ESB to keep the water level in Poulaphouca Reservoir above 581 feet O.D.  At a water level of 581 feet O.D. Dublin City Council would not be able to abstract the proposed 70 mgd public water supply from the Reservoir. A level of only 581 feet O.D. would destroy the Reservoir as an amenity and would also wipe out a number of habitats but the Draft ERBDMP sees fit to ignore the existence of this legislation.    

It also appears to me that any Act that allows any person or body to shut off the flow of any river is unconstitutional and would certainly start a war in parts of the world.  We hear, almost daily, calls for the ESB to be privatised and this makes an amendment of the Liffey Reservoir Act 1936 more urgent than ever.

To undertake gravel loosening or any other work on the River Liffey or behind the Dams without consulting the ESB would be totally irresponsible from a health and safety perspective but once again the ESB does not get a mention.

I am also concerned at the treatment of Golden Falls Lake in the Draft ERBDMP.  One minute you see it and the next minute its gone.  It appeared in the ERBDMP Working Document issued to Advisory Council Members and the initial Draft.  I mentioned in a submission on the Working Document that Golden Falls was a buffer lake to control the huge water flows that emit from Poulaphouca Hydro Power Station (30MW) when that Station is on full load.  The water is then released into the River Liffey at a much reduced flow through Golden Falls Hydro Power Station (4MW).  When I mentioned that there was no public water supply taken from Golden Falls Lake it appears to have vanished from the Draft ERBDMP and helps to confirm my view that there is an attempt to wipe the ESB and Hydro Electricity Generation off the Liffey.  There are a number of discharges directly into Golden Falls Lake.  The most notable discharge is from Wicklow County Council’s Blessington Waste Water Treatment Plant (P.E. 10,000).  Due to operating conditions on Golden Falls Lake it is most unsuitable for a discharge of this nature and in the year 2000 the EPA reported that Golden Falls Lake was Hypertropic i.e. a very high level of pollution.  Yet the Draft Programme of Measure for the Liffey WMU has this to say:
“Golden Falls
Reason for designation: Impoundment for drinking water supply.
Status: Less than Good
Measures: None Identified”

As stated above, Golden Falls was not impounded for a drinking water supply but there is still a need to ensure that the discharge from Blessington WWTP does not pollute the Lake.  It was reported when the level of Golden Falls was lowered in 2002 that a twenty feet high sewage sludge bank has built up at the Blessington Sewage Treatment Plant discharge location with lesser build-ups downstream.  The Programme of Measures should include Wicklow County Council having to investigate and if necessary, clean up the sludge.
Full tertiary treatment, nutrient removal and extensive monitoring arrangements are a must for Blessington WWTP and an alternative location for the discharge should be found.  Further, Wicklow County Council should be barred from allowing further discharges into Golden Falls Lake.

Trusting that this time my submission will not be ignored. 

Thomas Deegan,
Ballymore Eustace,
Co. Kildare.
12th February 2009

Copy to;   Mr. Padraig McManus, Chief Executive, ESB
  Mr. Michael Malone, Manager, Kildare County Council
  Mr. Eddie Sheehy, Manager, Wicklow County Council
  Mr. Pat Doherty, CEO, Eastern Regional Fisheries Board
  Mr. Gary Bolger, Hon. Sec. Ballymore Eustace TSAA
  Mr. Denis Madden, Hon. Sec. Clane TSAA
Cllr. Michael Deely, Hon. Sec. North Kildare TSAA
Cllr. Billy Hillis KCC"
It is important that all angling clubs and/or anglers study the Draft Plan and make submissions. Details of the Programme Of Measures for your Local Area e.g. Liffey, Ryewater, Boyne, Blackwater Upper, Blackwater Lower, Dodder, Nanny etc are described under the various Water Managements Units  

For more information on the Eastern River Basin District  and the Draft Management Plan and various other documents go to Links and then click on Eastern River Basin District. 


Down by the River 2008



Free Book

To obtain a copy of the free book ‘Trout Flies for Irish Waters’ go to Links and click on Central Fisheries.


Meeting with Kildare County Council Water Services

Four members of the Association met with three officials of Kildare County Council Water Services Department on the 21st February 2008.    Items discussed included the proposed new sewage treatment plant and pumping station for Ballymore Eustace, implementation of conditions imposed by An Bord Pleanala in granting planning permission to Dublin City Council for the new development taking place at the Waterworks, Blessington Sewage Treatment Plant discharge into Golden Falls Lake and the pollution of Golden Falls and Poulaphouca Reservoir, Barrack Street Close and various other bits and pieces that cropped up on the day.  The group visited the various locations of interest and concern.  The Council officials answered some of our queries and concerns and promised to get back to us with all the outstanding answers. The Association wishes to thank the Director of Water Services Kildare County Council for facilitating the meeting.

The Brook of Donode at Coughlanstown was restocked with 12000 unfed salmon fry on 28th March and the Ardenode/Lemonstown stream was restocked with 18000 unfed salmon fry on Saturday 5th April 2008.  Our thanks to the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board and Pat O’Molloy of the Islandbridge hatchery and all the helpers that turned up.

RestockingArdenode/Lemonstown Stream, Martin Kelly, James Mulryan and Bridget Hayes.


Liffey Habitat Enhancement 2007

With the introduction of the ban on drift net fishing at sea for salmon and the prohibiting of angling for salmon on the River Liffey until such time as salmon stocks reach their conservation limit (4000), the Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers’ Association considered the time was opportune to undertake a major habitat enhancement programme on the Liffey at Ballymore Eustace. The programme of work was drawn up and supervised by The Eastern Regional Fisheries Board (Martin Kelly and Fergal Caffrey with advice from Dr. Martin O’Grady Central Fisheries Board) and took place during the month of September 2007.  The enhancement programme consisted of raking the existing gravel bed of the Liffey to rid it of settled out solids and loosen the gravel in order to make it more conducive to salmon spawning (redd/nest making). Because the Liffey is harnessed by the ESB at Poulaphouca and Golden Falls upstream of Ballymore Eustace, gravels that are normally washed downstream from the upper reaches do not make it to Ballymore and so it was necessary to import trailer loads of gravel into the Liffey to replace what was washed away over the years.  Boulders were  introduced into the River to act as holding or resting stations for both salmon and trout and holding pools (deep pools) were also being introduced.  The boulders will submerge further as flood waters scour the gravel bed around them.  Many dead and fallen trees were removed from the River and the reaction of the public to the enhancement work was very favourable. 
The Himac was operated by Roger Smith and the tractor and trailer for transporting the gravel and boulders was driven by Ned Walsh.
The Association wishes to thank the following for allowing the machinery access to the River through their property:- Elizabeth and Peter Pearse (Driver’s Ford), James and Matt Purcell (The Strand and Inch), Ballymore Eustace Handball Club (Car Park), Ballymore Eustace Community Development Association (CDA) (Riverside Walk), Larry Glancy (The Strand), Kildare County Council Water Services (Sewage Plant Yard), Pat Lawlor (Purcell’s Inch), Paddy Nolan (Doran’s Park), Gary and Roisin Murphy Mountcashel (Kane’s Ford, Inch na Cailin and Marl Hole Car Ford), Kevin Keenan (Kane’s Ford), Johnny Murphy Coughlanstown (Ferny Inch) and Tim Ronaldson.  Also, thanks to the ESB for facilitating us with low water in the Liffey during working hours despite the fact that Poulaphouca Reservoir was chock-a-block with water after the wet summer.
The habitat enhancement work cost €14000 and was funded by Dublin City Council Engineering Department and Kildare County Council Heritage Department to whom we are very grateful.  (The Liffey Valley Meander Belt i.e. Skaw Banks, is designated a Natural Heritage Area)
Hopefully all will be rewarded by the sight of salmon spawning in these areas in the years to come. 
The Association also appreciates similar enhancement work undertaken by Sean Mulryan under the supervision of Peter Lynch with advice from the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board where his land borders the Liffey at the Ferny Inch and Ardenode/Coughlanstown.

Sept07Liffey1a.JPG  Sept07Liffey5a.JPG


Fish Stock Survey

River Liffey, Fish stock survey from upstream of Ballymore Eustace (Driver’s Ford) to disused Railway Bridge at Harristown, September 2005.
       Central Fisheries Board,
       Swords Business Campus,
       Co. Dublin 
                                                                February 2006 

The Eastern Regional Fisheries Board was commissioned by Ballymore Eustace Trout and Salmon Anglers Association, with financial assistance from KELT – Kildare Leader Group, to carry out an investigation of the fishery in the Upper Liffey from Driver’s Ford (u/s Ballymore Eustace) to the disused railway bridge at Harristown. The survey was carried out from 12th to 15th September with the assistance of staff from the Central and Shannon Regional Fisheries Boards.
Quantitative surveys of the trout and salmon stocks were completed at two locations on the main river and on two tributary streams (the Lemonstown and the Brook-of-Donode). The Liffey upstream of Ballymore Eustace, although lightly stocked (about 8 young salmon and 8 trout per 100m²), showed a significant improvement in fish numbers and water quality compared to an earlier survey at this location in 1987. The second location, a shallow glide/riffle area about 2km downstream of the town bridge (at the ‘Horseshoe’ (Ferny Inch)) carried a very good stock of juvenile salmon (over 79 per 100m²). The Lemonstown stream section contained 45 trout and 19 young salmon (64 salmonids per 100m2); the Brook-of-Donode supports a similar salmonid population density (62 per 100m²) trout constitute the bulk of the stock (57 per 100m²) but young salmon (5 per 100m²) also occur in this small tributary.
The remainder of the river from Driver’s Ford to the old railway bridge at Harristown was fished qualitatively using 2 to 5 boats over three days. Section 1, the Ford to the ‘Horseshoe’; Section 2, the ‘Horseshoe’ to the ‘gas pipe crossing’ at Liffeydale/Cloughanstown and Section 3, from the ‘gas pipe’ to the railway, were each divided into sub-sections when fishing was interrupted at shallows. Details of fish encountered, instream and bankside features were recorded throughout. Mature bankside trees the branches of which frequently extended out over or trailed in the water, fallen timber in the river and deep water militated against effective fishing with the electrical apparatus. Trout (one possible individual to 3lb (1.36kg)) and juvenile salmon dominated the fish community. Young salmon were common at every shallow but no adult salmon was encountered. Only occasional perch and roach were noted and they are not a significant element of the fish community currently.
Trout especially, but salmon fry and parr also to a lesser degree, appear to be growing more quickly than previously. This was particularly evident in the waters around Ballymore Eustace where water clarity and quality generally has improved considerably in the vicinity of the Wastewater Treatment Works (the improvement in water clarity was evident down to the ‘gas pipe crossing’ and beyond) compared to 1987. However, in September, the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board, using the EPA macroinvertebrate quality rating system, still assessed the water quality of the river as slightly polluted (Q3-4) to moderately polluted (Q3), at four locations from Driver’s Ford to the railway bridge.
Several sections of particularly good salmon spawning gravel were noted throughout the BTSAA waters and it is possible that spawning occurs at almost every riffle. While the gravels in some areas were loose, suitable deposits in many riffles and shallow glides were compacted due to extensive growths of water crowfoot (Ranunculus sp.).
Several deep holding pools for salmon occur along the 8km of BTSAA waters but no adults were encountered. It is most probable, had such fish been present, they would have been recorded in the survey. Details of the salmon spawning redd counts provided by the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board show salmon spawning occurs consistently, albeit at varying levels, in the BTSAA fishery every year. Very good stocks of juvenile salmon occur at some locations and the species is well distributed   at every shallow from Driver’s Ford to the railway bridge. It appears that adult salmon had just not arrived in this part of the river on this occasion at the time of the survey but adults were present in September 1987 when the stretch upstream of Ballymore Eustace was examined. Information received from the fish counters on the Liffey show a decline in salmon runs recently relative to the 1980s and 1990s. The numbers of adult salmon returning to spawn in the river Liffey are substantially below the Conservation Limit.