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Letter NEWHM:1996.H67.705

Francis Henry Salvin to John Hancock (22 August 1873)

Salvin describes a visit to Galway, Southern Ireland, referring to the scenery, river fishing, fishing with cormorants and the local people he meets on his visit.




Capt. Salvin

Post Office



Augst. 22d. 1873.


My dear Sir,

I am here on a sporting tour which is to combine several amusements as it progresses.  For instance, I shall have Hawking & Otter=hunting as well a[s] Cormorant fishing. This neighbourhood is said to be the best in the world for “White sea trout” which migrate up Rivers. They have many names, but I cannot say for certain what they really are.

I throw off tomorrow. Galway Bay is a most extensive one, running for miles, indeed beyond your sight before it joins the broad Atlantic. The River upon which part of the Town is, comes from a chain of Lakes & is not long.  There is a splendid Salmon=pass upon it about a miles [sic. mile]  [p.2]  from its entrance into the Harbour where it joins the sea & not withstanding this limited length the fishing with net & Rod is so good that it produced an income of many thousands. You may see countless numbers of fish lying with their heads up stream waiting for a “spate” or flood to help them up — I had not been upon the Bridge a minute before I saw a Gentleman take one with a fly.  This is a most foreign queer place.  One district of the town is are all inhabited by fishing people. They (the women) wear a deal of dingy red in the shape of a gown & over that either a shawl or cloak, the latter of blue with a large Hood.  They make their own cloth.  Shoes[,] stocking & bonets [sic. bonnets] are unknown.  It is a very pretty dress.  These people [p.3] are peculiar & are supposed to have been Moorish or Spanish in their origin — Many of their names are Spanish –  Today I saw a wild Cormorant fishing[,] when first I saw him he had something in his pouch that did not go kindly down (probably a fluke) by taking several drinks he washed it down & then he caught an eel which often escaped & was recaptured & finally pouched & effectuallyswallowed.  If I had had one of my birds with me with the strap on I am certain I should have got that eel. The tame bird would have robbed him & come to shore.  I now send the Colonel’s bill for the Punt[.]  I would have sent it to him but I have left his address at home.  It comes [p.4] [to] more than I expected but if you look into the items which were all necessary it could not be done for less & I know it was well made[.]

As money is very necessary in travelling where you are not known perhaps the Colonel will be good enough to send me soon a Post Office order upon Galway & direct to me, Post Office Galway for I am on the move.

Believe me | Yrs. very truly | F.H. Salvin. [Signature]

PS.  Since I left Mr. Charlton called.  I am sorry I missed him — he should have written beforehand.





For biographical information on Salvin see Letter 701

1.  Cormorant fishing. Salvin was known for his interest in re-establishing cormorant-fishing in Britain, having published a section on the subject in Gage Earle Freeman’s Falconry, its claims, history, and practice.  To which are added remarks on training the Otter and Cormorant, by Captain Salvin (London, 1859).

2.  “White Sea Trout”. A regional name in Ireland for Brown Trout.

3.  A flat bottomed boat used in small rivers and shallow water.

4.  ‘Mr Charlton’ may be Dr Edward Charlton of Hesleyside, who was a member of the Natural History Society and a colleague of Hancock.