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Recreational and Commercial Fishing in Cromane

It is hoped that an Angling expert could write on the subject of recreational fishing in this area and some up to date Angling news will be available on this page very soon.

Examples of fishing follow:

Cromane Point - Occasional Bass while spinning on early flood. Bottom fishing for Flounder on eastern side of the Point.

Rossbehy Creek - Spinning for Sea Trout. Bottom fishing on seaward side of gap in old causeway at Rossbehy Creek for Flounder and occasional Bass.


Cromane, Killorglin, Co. Kerry.

Office tel: 066 9669188

Fax: 066 9769927



Mussel cultivation has been a traditional activity within Castlemaine Harbour. Since 1850 the formation of the Coop has ensured that cultivation has been managed and conducted in a more intense and organised manner. The Co-op has full control of shellfish culture over the 250 acre body of water contained within the mussel fishery order granted in 1979.

Current annual production of mussels can reach up to 8000 tonnes, though varying supply of local seed causes much fluctuations in annual production. Produce is sold to markets in France and Holland More recently pacific oyster production began by Coop members, with current output levels at approximately 200 tonnes and markets also in Europe. One group has just begun to cultivate clams. Overall Coop products are worth several million Euro to the local economy.


The Co-op is a non trading democratic body charged with the allocation and maintenance of production grounds that are allocated on a five year lease to local groups consisting of one to seven members. The Coop also serves as a coordinating body and collective voice for its members in all business matters concerning the Coop members as a whole, such as when dealing with other bay users, other business interests, local authorities, government agencies etc or when lobbying or applying for state aid in infrastructural requirements such as a badly needed pier and landing facilities at the point of Cromane.

At present there are 50 active members divided into 18 producing groups. Almost all of these are working full time in mussel and / or oyster cultivation. The Coop groups individually manage their own production, marketing and sale of their produce. A fleet of eight dredgers and a number of smaller open deck vessels are employed overall in production.

The mussel production cycle

The first stage is the sourcing of local seed within and close to the Co-op order during the spring and summer. Seed supply is erratic and represents the biggest limiting factor to production. When found, the small and delicate seed is transferred to the intertidal to harden over winter so that it will be more resistant to attacks by starfish and crabs. The intertidal stock is vulnerable to the effects of winter storms. The hardened seed is next transferred to one or more on growing sites for between nine and eighteen months before harvesting and sale.

Mussel Beds
Community Role

The Co-op plays a major role in facilitating the development of a traditionally based livelihood to the full time activity it is now for a growing number of local participants, thus helping to maintain continuity and growth of the communities of the area. Furthermore The Coop champions the cause of the sort of development that would attract other economic activity. The construction of a suitable pier and supporting infrastructure would serve as an attraction to leisure boat users and other tourism interests as well as serve the interests of Coop members.


The first meeting of the provisional committee of Castlemaine Harbour Co-op Society was held at the Mussel Tank, Cromane on Tuesday 25th April 1967. Application forms to purchase five shares at £1.00 each were agreed to be sent out to homes of traditional fishermen in the area. On 22nd September 1967, forty eight members were entered into the Share Register. The first ten of those were: Daniel McKenna, John F Lyne and Patrick Lyne, James McCarthy, Johnny Teahan (Glosha), Florence McCarthy, Michael (Mikeen) Sullivan, Daniel D. McCarthy, Jimmy Casey and Timothy Teahan. The Society was formally registered on 25th August 1967 and fishermen then began trading through the Co-op. The first AGM was held on 26/9/1967 with P.O’Callaghan as Chair. On 9/11/1967, a licence was granted for the buying and export of salmon.

Castlemaine Harbour holds the largest natural mussel bed in Ireland. The tradition of fishing the mussel beds goes back generations. Both the mussel fishery and oyster fishery have enormous potential and the community has organised fishing and husbandry to realise it. In the late 1970s/early 1980s landings at Cromane put it among the top ten ports in the country. In 1983 for example, the landings totalled 8,290 tons with a value of £690,505.00. The full potential of the harbour is yet to be realised. In 1988, local estimates put the potential landings at 20,000 tons per annum. On any estimate, there is the potential for a turnover of £2 m. per annum. Evidence of individual fishermen’s faith in that potential is the purchase by them of the large mussel dredgers in Cromane of which there are presently nine.

The Co-operative is now a non-trading entity, which exists solely to hold the ground in the harbour, granted by the Minister to the fishing community under Order and Licence and to allocate that ground fairly between the fishermen.


On 22nd September 1967, the first 48 members were entered into the Share Register. The first set of Rules was signed on 18th July 1967 and Permit-holders are governed by a set of Regulations. There are now 149 members. On October 2nd 1967 it was agreed unanimously that any member found guilty of discussing committee meetings outside of meetings be expelled.


On July 4th 1968, a Committee meeting was held at the Muintir na Tíre Hall and in the early years of the Co-op, subsequent AGMs were held there. In recent years meetings have been held at the Community Centre. A minimum of 12 meeting of the Committee of Management are held every year and the AGM is generally held in early December of each year.


In the late 1970s the community, through the Society, sought mussel cultivation rights for the entire harbour. The Ministerial Fishery (Castlemaine Harbour) Order 1979 granted those rights but only 50% of the ground was made subject to the Order. The area granted under the Order is roughly from the back of “Jacks” pub across to Inch and within. Increasing membership and the requirement to adapt to market requirements has created the need for additional mussel cultivation ground. An extension of ground granted under the 1979 Ministerial order is now being sought. The granting of the Order coincided with a boom in mussel fishing. In 1996 an aquaculture and foreshore licence was granted for an extension to that Order area.


Until 1979 fishing was communal and uncontrolled and nobody had responsibility for a particular part of the harbour. Each fisherman operated as he saw best for his own benefit. With the Society concentrating on developing markets and exporting, the communal system of managing the mussel beds still continued. In 1987/88 the fishermen agreed that the ground be divided under a voluntary scheme and this was done with the cooperation of officials of the Department of Marine and was very successful. It proved the practicality of giving each fisherman his own plot, into which he could transplant mussel seed and harvest as appropriate to the product and the market. Each participant was able to reap what he sowed. At that stage it was obvious that more ground was needed. This need was apparent in 1986 prior to the first voluntary division. A formal application for an extension was lodged in 1992. This preceded the 1992 re-division, an exercise demanded by the fishermen.


In 1939 BIM recognised the importance of the industry to the area by constructing a purification plant. In the late 1960s the locals came together to form the Castlemaine Harbour Cooperative Society Ltd and that Society was given a lease of the BIM premises, in order to promote marketing and processing. On December 2nd 1975 Mr Alex White of BIM, Noel Mahoney and Rod Teck attended a committee meeting in Cromane re: setting up of processing plant for the mussels. In June 1977, P.O’Connor Builders Tullig were engaged to carry out some building works at the tanks. Co-op members were then obliged to sell all their produce through the Co-op. The premises were sold in 1995 to Spillane Seafoods Ltd.



P. O’Callaghan was the first Chairperson and was followed in 1971 by Danny Sullivan. Others who held the position of Chair down through the years were: Dan McKenna, Francie Sullivan, Monty O’Neill, Edward O’Neill, John D. Sullivan, John Teahan and John Joe Reilly.

In August 1992, BIM proposed Séan Ó Súilleabháin as Independent Chairman.


On 23/10/1967 Michael Spillane was elected Manager and remained there until January 1973. Danny O’Sullivan then took over as Manager until September 1976 and was followed by John Riordan. Johnny Connor was then employed as a driver and became Manager for a period in 1978. Eileen Hayes was secretary for 10 years until 1978.


In 1978 Mary Casey was employed part-time in the Summer of 1978. From 1997 to 1999 Jane Casey was employed through a Community Employment Scheme. Angela Teahan has been working with the Society now since February 2001 initially through a FÁS Scheme and later employed by the Society itself.

Don Wynne has been the Society’s Auditor & Accountant since January 1973.


For over 15 years the Co-op has been working towards getting a pier and proper landing and storage facilities. On April 1st 1969 the subject of a proposed pier/landing facilities at Cromane was first discussed at a Committee meeting. We are presently awaiting confirmation of planning permission from Kerry County Council, such confirmation expected in late September 2005. The Society has built up a considerable file of all the newspaper articles alone on this subject.

Pier Plan

Above: The Proposed Pier in 2005


Several Predator Control Programmes have been put in place to control infestations of crabs and starfish and this is an ongoing problem within the harbour and is continuously being monitored.


In April 1997, BIM commissioned a major report, which was undertaken by Dr Noel Mulligan of Tralee R.T.C. (as it then was). This set out to assess and establish the development potential and opportunity of Castlemaine Harbour and recommend measures necessary to achieve this development. It stated that annual production of 12,000 tonnes of mussels and 1,000 tonnes of oysters could be achieved then if the required investment was made in the development of the Harbour.


BIM has assisted local fishermen with Grants, Surveys, in the transplantation of seed mussels into Castlemaine harbour and in the development of a number of oyster cultivation projects amongst other things. Particular mention must be given to Mr Alex White, Dr Terence O’Carroll and Mr Dónal Maguire for their constant help and support throughout the years: In 1994 Mary Hannan was the South-Kerry Mariculture Officer and was later followed by Vera Heffernan, Catherine Butler and Máirtín Walsh.


The Society encourages education and training. In October 2002 a group of twelve from Cromane visited Yerseke in Holland to view the mussel plants and operations there. In Spring of 2003 the BIM Coastal Training Unit visited Cromane and offered on site courses to members in Mandatory Safety Training, VHF & Digital Radio courses and navigation. A demonstration and explanation of CDROM Safety Generating Statement for Mussel Dredgers was held in October 2005 and in January 2006, 17 people completed a VHF Radio course provided by BIM.


In recent years the scarcity of mussel seed has had a severe impact. At present an experiment with the help of BIM, using coco rope to encourage growth of mussel seed is being carried out within the harbour. In August 2000 the fishing of mussels from Dingle Bay including Castlemaine Harbour was banned for three months. This ban on harvesting and selling mussels for human consumption (closure) was due to the existence of toxins Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP). Good harvest for mussels then existed but could not be harvested and sold during November, which traditionally had been an important sales month. This obviously had a drastic effect on the area resulting in losses in excess of £2 incurred by approximately sixty fishermen. When the harbour was not open in October, markets were lost and could not be recovered when it reopened in January.

CLAMS (Co-ordinated Local Aquaculture Management Systems).

In July 1992 a local CLAMS group was set up and a CLAMS report was carried out and published on the Harbour. It provides a concise description of the bay in terms of physical characteristics, history, aquaculture operations, future potential, problems etc. Areas of the harbour are designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protected Areas (SPA).

Images of Cromane, Co. Kerry