Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Voices from the Past: The History of the Limerick Hook (1865)

Henry Cholmondeley-Pennell was a true angling curmudgeon. The author of numerous angling books, he famously entered into a bitter feud with Samuel Allcock over the nature of hook making and numbering, as I wrote about in a chapter in my book The History of the Fish Hook in America, Vol. 1. But one thing no one could accuse Cholmondeley-Pennell of was being ignorant of hook history. Here we have a nifty piece from an article entitled "Angling in Ireland Fifty Years Ago," published in an organ that he himself edited called The Fisherman's Magazine & Review for January, 1865.

The Limerick hook as originally made, but now seldom to be seen in that form except in the collections of the curious, serves to illustrate how untutored talent attains its ends without other assistance than its own lights. When O'Shaughnessy conceived in his mind the best shape of hook for striking and holding a salmon in the Shannon, he was quite innocent of a technical knowledge of the rules of mechanics. Like his own hook, he went keenly and directly at his object, and solved the problem he proposed to himself at starting. His own common sense, and the end in view, sufficed to guide his hand in the accomplishment of his design. Of the many modifications which that hook has since undergone, none excel, while some are undoubtedly inferior to the original invention. Its only fault was its excess of metal; but in shape and temper, it has never been surpassed. We fished with some of these hooks in our early days of angling, till by frequent use and re-mounting with flies, they became bright by wear and loss of varnish, and never found them wanting in their work. To the inventor of this form of an indispensable item of the fisherman's gear, and who may well be called the father of hook-making, this tribute to his ingenuity may not be uncalled for; more particularly when we recollect that the hook is to the angler pretty much what the anchor is to the mariner.

-- Dr. Todd

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