Sion Mills Angling Club was founded in 1933 by Jack Herdman, with the main intention that the club would always be accessible to the working man. Angling is the most popular sport in Ireland, relatively speaking it is also one of the cheapest. The availability and variety of angling on offer here has so impressed tourists from overseas, that it prompted the slogan...
"When fishermen die, they go to Ireland,
When good fishermen die... they go to the Mourne!"
The River Mourne has been well known for many years as one of the finest game fisheries in the Foyle system and indeed the entire province. Its proximity to the small community at Sion Mills has meant that the river has been part of life in the area, with skills and knowledge being handed down through successive generations.
Despite the clubs local name, angling is open to everyone who enjoys the sport. Anglers from all over the world have enjoyed the rivers beauty and its bountiful harvest. Fishing is part of the heritage here and local anglers delight in showing visiting fishermen their river and relish giving them advice. Non-anglers in the area savour the pleasure they see on the faces of visitors who marvel at the natural beauty and superb condition of the river.
Unlike a lot of organisations the club has never feared change or progress, which has proved one of its strong points. For nearly seventy years, Sion Mills Angling Club have protected the river stocks, guarded against poachers and fought to protect it from pollution and erosion. The riverside paths and walkways have constantly been developed and maintained. New self-closing gates have been installed on some parts of the river, to maintain the safety of the landowners stock.
At present the club is developing the area as a whole, from a tourist point of view. They feel that the river may still be used during the anglers closed season by canoeists, walkers etc.
The Mourne Riverside Walk officially opened on the 8th June 1999, as a staging post for this philosophy of growth. The walk is initially a tourist attraction, with special facilities for disabled anglers. It incorporates scenic woodland walkways, information signs, picnic sites and a viewing gallery. The tarmac surface on the river bank here makes it a dream fishing location for the less agile and wheelchair bound anglers.
The Mourne Riverside Walk is also the location of the Annual Charity Fishing Competition. It is an open competition, which welcomes all men, women and children, and disabled anglers are especially welcomed.
Further Projects are in the pipeline, which will give additional facilities for the disabled angler, yet will maintain the aesthetic nature of the environment.