Fishing Baskets

Explore a selection of baskets used for fresh water and sea fishing


The fishing baskets in the National Museum collection were made by small scale fisherman and also include a number of baskets made by Shanhans, professional basketmakers, in Carrick on Suir, Co. Waterford. The collection includes: lobster pots and long line baskets used in sea fishing and eel and other fish traps for fresh water fishing.

Lobster pots made of willow, hazel or heather continued in use up to the 1980s. The common sally was considered too soft for these pots and ‘Black Sally’ was preferred. In west Mayo heather was widely used, with hazel popular around Galway and Clare. On the Cork and Kerry coast bell-shaped pots were usual. Further up the coast they were spherical or circular in shape. Traditional lobster pots usually lasted about two seasons.

The long lines baskets on display held fishing lines with up to 200 hooks. Each hook was laboriously baited by hand. Sea fishermen used them off shore when fishing for white fish. There are a number of different types of fish traps in the collection. Double walling or funnels are used to prevent fresh water fish escape once they have entered the trap.  

Also in the collection is a ¼ Herring Cran which is made to exact dimensions, and was an official measure used in selling the large quantities of fish landed by commercial fishing fleets.  Basket of this type were used and made in vast quantities to the 1960s with each basket in constant use for only a few weeks.  The cane used in its making came from the far east – imported via Britain. 

Explore the fishing basket collection further. The following baskets can be found on display in the exhibition galleries. 

Freshwater Fishing Exhibition.

Eel pot/Trap associated with Carrick on Suir district only made by John Shanahan & Sons. (F:1953.1).

Fish Trap. For perch and trout associated with Lough Gara, Sligo. (F1952:129).

Fish Trap (known as giurog or diurog) made by Martin McHale, Bundoven, Pontoon, Co. Mayo. (F1965:361).

 Sea Fishing Exhibition.

Lobster pot made by Sean O’Curraoin, Ros a Mhíl, Co. Galway. (F:1964. 124)

Long line Basket (known as sciath) made by Michael Burns, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare.  (F:1959. 4).

Crab pot. Associated with Ballycastle, Co. Antrim. (F:1956. 168).

Making the Best of Life.

Lobster Pot made by Richard Walsh (Iniskea Island native) in 1947 at Doogort, Achill, Co. Mayo. (F1947:94,95).

Lobster Pot Made by James Healy, Lispatrick, Cork. (F1948:40). 

Basket Maker Exhibition.

Film footage of Michael O’Malley weaving a heather lobster pot.