The value of a near by fishing spot
Discover why some homes cost more because when there is a catch nearby...
There's an unattributed quote on the subject of fishing which says that an angler is a man who sits around all day doing nothing on the water because his wife won't let him do nothing at home.
But within that predominantly male society of studied idleness there is – naturally – a hierarchy.
There's sea fishing from the shore, up against the waves, which is free and which anyone can do, risking nothing but their own lives and the lives of mackerel.
There's coarse fishing, in which you spend all day trying to catch a fish that you don't want to eat, only to be derided as a mere drowner of worms.
And above all that is the elite – mostly gentlemen's – club of fly-fishing, in which you spend all day trying to catch a fish that you're probably not allowed to eat, and using the most obtuse and difficult methods, and then brag about it.
Ireland is internationally famous for its fly-fishing, but there are byzantine laws dictating who can fish, for what and from where.
The phrase 'only our rivers run free' plays fast and loose with the facts. You can have water without fishing rights or, perversely enough, you can have fishing rights without water. Matters are complicated and, consequently, it can turn out quite expensive.
From February or March onward, anglers from all over the world begin streaming towards this country's 26,000km of rivers and tributaries, and half a million acres of lakes. And they pay quite a lot for the privilege of pitting their wits against the fish and, as often as not, losing.
Typically, in the most popular spots, it costs between €20 and €50 a day to get a permit from whoever owns the fishing rights. To catch salmon or sea trout, you also need a licence, which costs €100 for a year. You'll want to hire tackle and a boat and, if you're unfamiliar with the best rises, a ghillie. On Lough Corrib, for instance, that will cost about another €150 a day. And only a cad wouldn't buy a ghillie a decent lunch.
One way to get around it all is to acquire a home with its own bit of river or lake frontage.
Lough Derravarragh, a limestone lake between Lough Sheelin and the Shannon, is popular with trout anglers, especially at its broad, shallow northern end. But take your mind off dinner. The lake is not stocked – it holds only wild trout – so catch-and-release is encouraged.
Derravarragh Lodge, a sprawling bungalow on 91 acres of land at Coole, Co Westmeath, has 1.6km of frontage onto the northern end of the lake, as well as private access to another 21.74 acres of shoreline. It's on the market for €1.45m through Ganly Walters (01 662 3255).
Designed by architect Jeremy Williams and built in 2004, the 3,880sq ft lodge has a drawing room with three windows overlooking the lake, a dining room, and a bay-windowed kitchen. Off the kitchen are a family room and a study, and there are four en-suite bedrooms, two of them with lake views.
To fish there you'll require a permit from Inland Fisheries Ireland's Midland Fisheries Group, which costs €40 annually for an adult or €15 for a day. There's a daily bag limit of three.
Fishing on Lough Derg, on the other hand, is free.
The third-largest lake on the island, at 32,000 acres, is a mixed fishery but well known for good-sized brown trout.
Dromeela, at Ogonelloe, Co Clare, has lake access with its own private jetty, so you could wander down with a priest (no, it's a baton for killing fish named for administering the "last rites") and take your chances any morning during open season between March and September.
With 2,118sq ft of floor space, Dromeela has a living room, study, conservatory, and kitchen/dining room on its ground floor.
Upstairs are five double bedrooms with views over Lough Derg. Two of the bedrooms are en-suite, and there's also a family bathroom on this level.
Handily enough, Dromeela also has a boat house to the side. It's for sale through Ganly Walters (01 662 3255) for €375,000.
Fishing rights over rivers, where the best salmon and sea trout fishing can be found, can often be controversial, as in the case of the River Blackwater, where the Duke of Devonshire still holds historical fishing rights.
A government review of fishing rights declared that the ownership of Irish rivers is fragmented into "competing and conflicting" and sometimes "irreconcilable" interests.
The Owenwee, also known as the Belclare, is a short, spate river on the shores of Clew Bay in Mayo, with runs of salmon and sea trout from June onward.
Alpine Lodge, at Cloona in Westport, has two rod rights over the Owenwee at its most fruitful spot, so you can fish all you like there once you've acquired a licence.
Again, though, you're going to have to throw everything back and eat bought fish for tea, because the river is not meeting its conservation limit at present.
Built in 1750, the house is set on 20 acres of wooded land fronting onto the Owenwee.
Its 2,000sq ft include a sitting room, drawing room, family room, sunroom and kitchen/dining room, as well as four bedrooms, one of which has an en suite shower room and walk-in wardrobe.
Sherry FitzGerald Crowley in Westport (098 29009) is the agent for Alpine Lodge and the asking price is €595,000.
The Aherlow river, running through the Glen of Aherlow, is a tributary of the Suir which is renowned for game angling. Some of the best fishing on the Aherlow is near Galbally in County Limerick, where Penrose Cottage can be found.
Penrose is on 4.5 acres of land amid the Galtee mountains, with fishing rights on the Aherlow.
It might have started out as a cottage, but it's now been extended to 4,000sq ft, including a lounge, sunroom, study and kitchen/dining room, and even a gym and cinema.
There are four bedrooms, two of them en-suite.
The cottage has been for sale for some time, and the price has dropped steadily from €699,000 to €469,000. The agent is Michael Dorgan in Mitchelstown (025 85700).
The Owenriff, which flows through Oughterard, Co Galway, is a tributary of Lough Corrib, Ireland's fishing mecca.
Salmon and lake trout begin running the river from late June, and while fishing is free in the town, the rights upstream are held by various riparian owners.
Among them is the owner of Clareville Lodge in Oughterard, a listed Georgian house from 1760 on 1.25 acres with river frontage and fishing rights. It's for sale for €730,000 through DNG Martin O'Connor (091 866 708).
Ironically, perhaps, Clareville is the former home of 'Humanity Dick' Martin, famous champion of animal rights and founder of the RSPCA.
It has a living room, a dining room, family room, kitchen and utility in its 3,350sq ft. There are four bedrooms, one of which has an en-suite bathroom, and three of which overlook the river.
Outside is a cut-stone coach-house and a pair of sheds, and the grounds feature woodland, shrubbery and a walled garden with a patio.
And for those who don't care for fishing, Clareville's water frontage has been turned into a river garden, where you can picnic instead, or read, or just sit and contemplate the lives of fish and fishermen.