The two-day fly festival in Killyleagh now in its fourth year is growing from strength to strength. Set up by members of the Dibney River Conservation Trust (DRCT) to add weight to their campaign to clean up the much polluted river running through the town, the Irish International Fly Tie-ing Fair attracts visitors from across the world.
Speaking at the official launch of the event in the Dufferin Coaching Inn, Down District Council Chairman Councillor Dermot Curran said, “Today there are anglers and flie-tiers and others from all over Europe and beyond – from the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, Bulgaria and the US and other countries.
“Our Council is delighted to support such an event as it is a huge boost to the local economy as well as providing much needed environmental work. I am looking forward to it growing over the years. The hard work is all done by volunteers who give up their precious time to make it all happen. A special credit must go to Stephen Kennedy and his team for their efforts and I wish you all a successful two days.”
There was a wide range of activities for anglers to enjoy from fly tying sessions by experts in local bars, a number of talks, a children’s entymological bug hunt session run by the NIEA in the community centre examining the invertebrate life in the Dibney, with more fly tie-ing demonstrations and stands in the Dufferin Coachin Inn. In the bawn of Killyleagh Castle there were fly casting demonstrations and lessons over the two days.
Stephen Kennedy, DRCT Chairman’s said, “Where there is water there is life. We are setting up environmental standards for our future generations. The DRCT has had huge support from many organisations such as the Wild Trout Trust and now we are on our way in restoring the river closer to its natural state. To date tons of rubbish have been removed from the Dibney River.
“We are setting up a template for the seven tributaries that run into the Strangford Lough. We cannot stress enough how important the local environment is and we have done a lot to protect this area and the river habitat, but more work has to be done.”
At the reception in Killyleagh Castle, Gawn Rowan-Hamilton, the castle owner and president of the DRCT, said, “We need to thank the landowners for their co-operation. They have an important role to play in the overall clear-up process. We have now spent five years working at this project and have acquired a number of studies on the Dibney River and its environment.
“Of the seven Strangford Lough tributaries, two are in a very poor state. These studies will help us target strategies for improvement. For example, in the Dibney River, we could double the size of the spawning beds relatively easily. We would have to talk to the government agencies about this.
“Also we tried to raise the profile of the river and enlisted the help of 14 local primary schools in a poster competition which was very successful.
“You have all made huge sacrifices to be here today and this is very much appreciated. We have a strong team on this and they fully appreciate your generous support. It all takes time. We will get there in the end. There will be a clear Dibney River.”
The reception in the hall of Killyleagh Castle was also attended by Strangford MP Jim Shannon. One of the main sponsors of the event, Feckin Whisky, was also there literally in spirit, and AAPGAI and APGAI Ireland were also there is support along with top companies such as Hardy Greys.