Anglers mourn death of Allen Kirkpatrick

10 June 2008
MEMBERS  of the Moyola Angling Association felt the same shock and sadness of anglers across the country at the news of the sudden death of Allen Kirkpatrick last week.
Known to us as Abbey, he gave invaulable assistance and guidance to the Moyola Angling Association and was great inspiration to our club members.
Ulster Angling Federation Chairman Jim Haughey summed up the sense of loss felt by the angling community at Abbey's death.
Jim's statement:
GAME fisheries in Northern Ireland have suffered a severe blow with the sudden passing of Antrim man Allen “Abbey” Kirkpatrick.

Allen was a true countryman and field sports practitioner, equally happy with either gun or rod in hand, who even from schooldays spent all his time in the countryside, and in particular, on the riverbank.

Allen had served a considerable apprenticeship at the coalface of bailiffing a number of waters mainly in the Antrim area and around Lough Neagh.

This included the troubled times in Northern Ireland when being out on the riverbank at night could be a very hazardous occupation indeed, and as a result his fellow bailiffs were always happier with Allen at their side.

He had a considerable physique, and a quietly impressive, imposing manner without being in any way overbearing, gained of many years experience of dealing with all manner of fishery problems, from organised poaching gangs to the widespread pollution which is now such a feature of Northern Ireland’s rivers.

Indeed pollution was a particular bęte noire of Allen’s and he spent countless hours on the river, and in the meeting room, trying to keep the waters clean.

He was bailiff and guide on the Shane’s Castle water on the River Main, Fishery Manager for the Antrim and District Angling Association on the River Sixmilewater, Director of the Ulster Angling Federation, Board Member of The Fisheries Conservancy Board for Northern Ireland, a Director of Lough Neagh Fishing Tours, and a qualified angling guide and instructor.

His knowledge of the fisheries, personalities, events, and problems on both the rivers, and the largest lake in the UK and Ireland, Lough Neagh, was unrivalled, and his quality as a bailiff unmatched.
Whether it was trapping mink, or making a case to a senior Government minister, his dedication, and calm and reasoned approach always impressed anglers and laymen alike.

Along with the late Newell McCreight, he formed a formidable team which fostered a new era of conservation, improvement, and enhancement in South Antrim which will bear fruit for decades to come.
Allen possessed a laconic, dry wit which helped to foster good relations in many fields to the benefit of the fisheries, and defused some very difficult confrontations on the riverbank. His demeanour sometimes may have been less that sparkling, but this belied his very positive and gung ho outlook on life and the laughter was never very far beneath the surface, triggered by a crack, or a wink from his craggy visage. His ready humour will be sorely missed by his friends.

He was happiest with fly rod in hand and a flood fining down, and just before his untimely death, was out with a client on Lough Neagh, who caught a 7 lb Dollaghan trout.

He displayed a fierce and dogged determination to fight for the health and future of our rivers and lakes, to ensure that the moments he enjoyed on the water may be repeated by future generations.
He had a vast range of personal contacts which he used to the maximum to further his improvement schemes and only last week was laying the foundations for a wetlands project on one of the tributaries. He helped introduce the first rock ramp fish pass in Northern Ireland, and was constantly improving his knowledge of conservation methods by attending seminars and instructional courses; to some these are rather dry, but to Allen they represented yet another opportunity to help the rivers.

Like so many anglers, he was a true environmentalist long before that word came to be misused as it now is. In the face of continuing problems and indifferent government, Allen Kirkpatrick simply refused to countenance anything less than a heritage of clean water and healthy fisheries. To repay our debt to Allen, so must we who remain.
Our sympathy goes to his wife Pauline, and children Ann and James.

Jim Haughey
Chairman, Ulster Angling Federation