The miracle of the Return to Segais

The miracle of the Return to Segais

Author Anthony Murphy talks about the miracle of the Atlantic salmon of the Boyne, and how seeing them return from their incredible journey inspired his new book, Return to Segais.

Four and a half years ago, I stood on the banks of the river Boyne at Slane, along the salmon weirs and the floodgate there, taking photos with my camera. I was capturing slow-shutter views of the water cascading down the weirs and was thoroughly enjoying the peace and solitude of the riverbank. It was a Monday morning and while all the world was at work and at study, I was the lone watcher at the edge of the river and the solitude was fabulous.

The salmon weir on the Boyne at Slane and (at its far end) the floodgate where Anthony first witnessed the salmon run.

Suddenly, a salmon jumped out of the water and up over the floodgate! I got an enormous surprise from it, and was enthralled. The fish flapped its way along the top of the floodgate, wriggling itself over the stone ledge there into the deeper, still water beyond. I was fascinated.

For the next hour and a half or so, I watched as salmon after salmon tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to jump the floodgate and the weir. Not being an angler, this is something I had never witnessed before. And it was extraordinary.

The floodgate in the river Boyne at Slane.

I later found out that the salmon, spawned in the shallow pools of the upper reaches of the river, find their way out into the Atlantic Ocean, from where they are able to return again to the EXACT location where they were born. They do so to spawn the next generation of salmon.

A returning salmon successfully jumps the floodgate at Slane.

That morning, on 26th September 2016, was to prove the single most important inspiration for what would eventually become my just-published book, Return to Segais. Through some incredible miracle of biology and nature, nagivation and intuition, the great salmon finds its way home, back to the source, back to the spawning pool, represented in mythic metaphor by the Well of Segais.

A view of the weir and floodgate at Slane.

At lofty Ardmulchan, I will watch for you.
At Broadboyne Bridge, I will watch for you.
I will be the angler without a rod, watching for your safe passing at the floodgate in Slane. No otter will confound you there. No memory of your confinement in Segais will hook you at Slane. No, from there you must be free to swim to Linn Féic at Rosnaree.
Bradán Feasa, you must come to Rosnaree, for it is written in the stars.

From Return to Segais by Anthony Murphy.
Get your signed copy online at the Mythical Ireland shop or download for Amazon Kindle at

The cataracts or small weirs of the Boyne at Slane.
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