Paddy Sharkey

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Paddy Sharkey
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Born (1922-07-05) July 5, 1922 (age 101)
  • Inventor
  • engineer
  • poethttps
  • philosopher
Known forElectric fish catcher

Patrick (Paddy) Joseph Sharkey was an Irish inventor, engineer, poethttps and philosopher. His most famous invention was the electric fish catcher which was viewed by Taoiseach Sean Lemass in the RDS Arena at the Scientific Exhibition in 1963.

Personal life

Patrick (Paddy) Joseph Sharkey was born in Drogheda on 5th of July 1922. He moved to England at a young age where he attended a technical school in Liverpool and later joined the RAF and became a radio operator on a Avro Lancaster bomber in WWII. When the war was over he moved back to Irelandand then to Donegal Town in 1951. Paddy Sharkey was married to Peggy Sharkey (Margaret Ann King) having 8 children, Aiden Sharkey, Barry Sharkey, Eileen Joyce, Pat Sharkey, Gerardine Sharkey, Kevin Sharkey, Noelle Vial and Majella McCloskey. He sadly passed away on 7th June 1997.


Paddy Sharkey demonstrating fishing (Patrick Joseph Sharkey) Paddy had a varied career in poetry, engineering and inventing. Most notable of his inventions was the electric fish catcher which featured on RTE in 1967. This device was a simple rig consisting on a pulse generator, a landing net and two electrodes[1]. Paddy set up an electronics business in Killybegs called Marine Electronics Limited. He featured in a book called "Broad Oceans and Narrow Seas" by John Townend[2] and in "Donegal Profiles" by Joe McGarrigle

Notable Works

Paddy Sharkey made an appearance in Joe McGarrigle's "Donegal Profiles". It reads

"PADDY SHARKEY The name *'Safari". known in marine circles all over the world, hides the identity of Killybegs inventor Paddy Sharkey. Paddy set up as an electronics engineer in Killybegs 30 years ago and one of his first appointments was port agent for Kelvin Hughes, the firm supplying electric equipment like echo sounders to the local fishermen. Unlike most agents who are quite happy to sell their equipment, Paddy went further. He wanted to know just what made it work. The thought struck him, "if fish can be located by using electronic equipment then why not catch them by the same method?" Soon he was experimenting with live fish in the kitchen Sink and this led to the prototype of the "Safari 100" which is now in use all over the world. I remember accompanying him to a local river when he was testing out his prototype fish catcher and the results were amazing. The equipment consisted of a loop net attached to a long pole and wired to a portable machine. When the net was lowered into the water and the equipment switched on the fish were attracted to the net. When they entered the net they were temporarily stunned. This, said Paddy, would enable marine biologists or other interested parties to grade or tag the fish before releasing them. Once the fish were returned to the water they immediately recovered and swam away. Paddy explained that the principle Of the operation was based on the well known electrokinetic phenomena—that fish exposed to a stream of uni- directional pulses will swim compulsively towards the anode electrode—in this case the landing net of the equipment. With typical modesty he made it sound simple but experts in the field who saw the demonstration described it as the product Of a genius. The fish catcher was adapted to meet the needs of fishery research workers who needed a convenient and quick method of spot sampling fish population in feeder streams that are difficult to access. The new equipment needed little marketing as such for its fame spread like wildfire amongst conservationists. It was exactly what they had been hoping would one day come on the market. Orders piled in from New Zealand, Africa, Australia, America, East European countries and Great Britain. Needless to remark our own country was one of the first to avail of the miracle machine. The World Health Organization is also a customer. The *'rolling stone" proverb is capable of contradictory interpretations and paradoxically Paddy epitomizes both—he resisted the temptation to move to the big industrial scene where he would have more scope for his work, and yet he didn't stand still long enough to gather moss, for hard on the heels Of 140 his first invention came from the electronic fish counter. Fishery authorities had not 'til then got a foolproof fish counter. Fish counters are installed to provide data concerning the migratory run of salmon in a river system. The collection and evaluation of such data is of necessity a long term project covering many years and it is, therefore, essential that instruments used can be accurate and reliable. Paddy Sharkey's equipment is the most sophisticated counter of its kind. Up to now his emphasis had been on equipment to assist in the preservation of fish. Paddy recognized, however, the need for a quick and humane method Of killing fish and experiments in this field brought about the electronic humane killer, "Thanus" named after the God of Death. The "Thanus" enables commercial fish farms to dispatch rainbow trout in bulk. It was also realized that fish killed in this way tasted better—the answer being that there is no prolonged struggle to expiry and consequently no amino acids released into the flesh. It has also been established that fish killed by the humane killer keep better in cold storage. At the moment he is engaged in research on behalf of the U.K. Ministry Of Agriculture, assisted by the I.I.R.S. on a method Of tenderizing meat by electronic methods. Success is just around the corner. One would have thought that by now Paddy would have exhausted his ideas, but no! Next came his Electro Anesthesia. a unit designed to meet the needs Of biologists for a fast and simple method of measuring large freshwater eels without resorting to chemical stupefaction. The eels to be measured are simply poured into a tank and the energizer voltage increased gradually until the eels and 55 volts—only a mild this Will occur at between 15 an eel with its head towards the negative end of the tank it becomes limp and then under true electro anesthesia it can be stretched along the measuring stick. When the eel is removed to another tank it recovers immediately . The unit may also be used to anaesthetize adult salmon for tagging or UY.D.N. treatment. Over the past thirty years, Paddy Sharkey has been concerning himself with providing the most cost effective methods of researching, controlling and cropping fish populations in lakes, rivers, canals and waterways. His latest invention is a trawl system that can be towed by any type of small craft powered by an outboard motor. In conventional trawling the trawl must be brought to the fish. In this case the fish are attracted to the trawl. This could be a major breakthrough for the commercial fisherman. Another experiment on which he is engaged could revolutionize the whole concept of present-day prawn fishing methods. Needless to remark. I cannot go into this more fully , but the scheme as explained by him in detail is ingenious. Marine Electrics, the company producing the "Safari" range in Killybegs is no longer a one man concern but it certainly is a concern that is very dependent on one man's genius. Demands for the products invented and manufactured by Paddy Sharkey have called for expansion Of his business and a new workshop, laboratory and office have been erected adjacent to his home. Despite his well deserved Success, Paddy still remains the modest unassuming man I first met almost thirty years ago and have been privileged to call friend since. Long may he go on creating works of genius and long may he and his charming wife, Peggy, be spared to offer the comfort of their open house to their friends."

External links

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