Double Delphi: The Rise and Fall of a Fisherman’s Fantasy


“An outstanding read… fizzingly entertaining… This book, full of tales both scandalous and bibulous, written with considerable verve and very well produced by Wallop Books, has been some years in the making but the wait has been well worth it.” Tom Fort, GAMEFISHER

“How can a book about running a fishing lodge be so engrossing? I loved it!… It makes very easy reading, yet pulls no punches… If you ever hankered to run a fishing lodge, this book is the good health guide you need to read.” Paul Welling, FLYFISHERS’ JOURNAL

“A belting yarn. Order this for Christmas and your evenings over the festive period are sorted… There are times when it reads more like a thriller than a fishing book”. Jeffrey Prest, TROUT FISHERMAN

“This is a glorious kiss-and-tell of what went on behind the scenes of a magical place… I loved this book, more than I have loved many… It is a hefty tome, well designed, with fantastic photography, and oozes quality… And there are moments when the quality of his prose makes you pause…. You must read it.” Garrett Fallon, FALLON’S ANGLER

“It is a topsy-turvy story, breezily told, lightened with self-deprecation, deftly decorated with the telling phrase. The book is beautifully illustrated. Fishermen might read along and step back in astonishment at this specimen of their own kind.” Michael Wigan, FIELDSPORTS

“This is a thoroughly enjoyable, even essential, read. And it is an eye-opener in particular for anyone contemplating a similar venture!” John Batter, CLASSIC ANGLING

“This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in recent years.” Derek Evans, IRISH TIMES

“Fantastic book… Truly great writing… I highly recommend it!” Alex Ford, AMBERJACK JOURNAL

“A great fishing memoir, but it’s more than that. It’s about lessons for us all. For daring to dream but then dealing with the realities that life throws at you… His larger-than-life persona, wit and humour shines through the pages.” Daire Whelan, IRELAND ON FLY

“Once in a while a book comes along that you just want to keep on reading. This for me was Double Delphi.” Paul Sharman, FISH AND FLY

 “Reading Peter Mantle’s excellent book over this rather dismal winter certainly brought back some hugely enjoyable experiences in vivid detail”. John Todd, IRISH NEWS

“A gem of a book. I absolutely loved it.”  Sandy Leventon, former editor TROUT & SALMON

“Enormously entertaining and well-written… absorbing. The writing is also crisp and alive… He held me captive with his words for more than 250 pages.” Don Causey, THE ANGLING REPORT



Review by Garrett Fallon of FALLON’S ANGLER magazine

Click on this link…  Double Delphi_GF 



Review by Michael Wigan in FIELDSPORTS magazine


Review in the IRISH TIMES

Click on



Review in FISH AND FLY

Double Delphi by Peter Mantle


Extract published in TROUT & SALMON



“I must congratulate you on ‘Double Delphi’. It really is a wonderful read; a real page-turner of a book. The whole story from beginning to end was riveting; I simply could not put the book down. I learned more about Irish history than the Benedictines in Limerick ever taught me! The complexities of both Irish history and Irish life were beautifully laid out. Though I was aware of the salmon and sea trout problems over the years, I was greatly impressed by your commitment to trying to fix the disaster that it is. Delphi is, as you say, a truly special place which thanks to you and Jane so many of us have been able to experience and enjoy” RG, Ireland

Truly superb. Massively readable and just excellent!” RF, USA

 “A fine read, enjoyed it immensely.” GF, Ireland

 “I have just finished your book from cover to cover. It was a great read with great insight into the industry. I was fascinated by the behind the scenes details and the challenges you have been through. I imagine it was quite a cleansing experience for you to get it all down on paper.  The book reflects, for the record, your passion, enthusiasm and love for both Delphis.” WS, USA

“A great story, well told.” SL, USA 

“I have read your book from cover to cover and what a ‘gem’ it is!  Many congratulations, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all your endeavors with all their ups and downs.  You and Jane have achieved a tremendous amount with the establishment of the two Delphis and they will stand as testaments to all your hard work”. BC, Ireland

“Your book is a great read. Read it at one sitting and was left wanting more…” RH, USA

“First things first, this is an absolutely great book. The work that has gone into editing/proofing etc. really shines through; it’s easy to read and without any amateurish errors which break the flow. It’s also a genuinely gripping story – a real page-turner without a dull moment. I was both fascinated and horrified in equal measure to hear how the denouement played out. So, read no further without lodging in your mind that this is a 5* review of a book read cover-to-cover in a single day (when I really, really should have been working or sleeping)! The story is fantastic (in both senses of the word). I can hardly believe you had the balls to do it, and then had the balls to continue when you could have escaped. Lucky for us, of course, that you did – my memories of Delphi… will be with me for a lifetime, and like many other visitors we owe a huge debt of gratitude to you for providing the substrate on which it all operated. Anyway, enough nauseating toadying…” OW, England

“Your beautiful Double Delphi arrived several days ago. Congratulations!  What an amazing saga and I am only on page 43. So many thanks for sharing your fascinating and courageous adventure.” BC, USA

“Congratulations. Wonderful read. Given the book at breakfast yesterday and just finished it – despite having to entertain last night.” MS, Northern Ireland

“The book was a sheer delight.’ JF, England

“Wow! What to say… lost for words. Wow! Haven’t even had my cup of tea yet, let alone my porridge – unable to put it down.” GL, Ireland

“LOVE the book!” FD, England

“A great read and beautifully presented” LM, England

“I have just read your excellent book in more or less one sitting! The only other book that received the same accolade was Mikey Wigan’s book on The Salmon. Yours was hugely informative and filled in many gaps in my knowledge with regard to sea trout and the West of Ireland in general.” GF, Ireland

“Enjoyed the book enormously and read it at one sitting.” RD, Ireland

“It’s a triumph! I got started on the book yesterday and have thoroughly enjoyed, empathised and experienced a damn good read that I could not put down” CG, England.

“I wanted to say how enormously I am enjoying your superb book. I started it about a week ago and am about a third of the way through. It is beautifully written and a most handsome volume in every way. It will take an important place in my not inconsiderable fishing library. Congratulations on a wonderful achievement.” DN, Scotland

“You have written a wonderful book; it is beautifully presented and it brings back many memories. What a triumph!… This is a tremendous work – it will become a fishing classic, I’m sure.” RW, Scotland

“I cannot recall the last time I read a book in pretty much one go. Well done – a compelling read and thoroughly enjoyable” WH, Ireland

“Double Delphi is a cracking good read and all the more so from an insider’s point of view. So atmospheric! It captures, or recaptures, what was Delphi in those never to be forgotten days, and conjures up what Yeats called fond ‘pictures in the mind’.  Wonderful!” WB, Northern Ireland

 “I’ve already read the first few chapters and I’m absolutely loving it.  You’re a really strong writer, capturing superbly the descriptions and detail of scenes along with the wry observations that make your voice stand out.” DW, Ireland

 I loved the book. It is such a good read. He has a wonderful turn of phrase”, MN, Ireland

 “Never put it down but to sleep.” SW, USA

 “I loved your book, rate it very highly, and have despatched copies to friends and enemies. I was a bit glum on the tube yesterday but was cheered up by page 260 (Lou tackling the septics) and laughed so loud and for so long that several passengers looked genuinely alarmed. I want to congratulate you. Bravo.” TK, England

“I’ve just finished reading your book, with my springer spaniel at my feet and a decent bottle of claret almost dispatched. May I congratulate you on a warm and engaging piece of writing.  I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought that I would drop you a line to express my admiration”.  TB, Northern Ireland

“The game fishing season is once again drawing to a close, leaving at least some anglers with withdrawal symptoms, myself included.  I have a remedy.  Peter Mantle has very recently written a splendid book, ‘Double Delphi.  The Rise and Fall of a Fisherman’s Fantasy’.  It is a quite delightful romp through the two Delphis, in Connemara and the Bahamas, both of which I have been lucky enough to fish several times.  Peter’s light touch, wit, erudition and journalistic background shines through the pages as he trips through a thousand anecdotes of happenings on both sides of the Atlantic.   This is not a dry book about breaking strains, rod construction and fly-tying techniques, but a magical one about the true spirit of fishing, the people who fish and the stories they generate.  As a doctor, I would happily prescribe it.  I suggest 2 chapters a day after meals.  The only side effect I’ve come across is enduring mirth.  The efficacy of this therapy is guaranteed, not something I can say about any other treatments I’ve delivered over the years.” CJ, England




3 Replies to “Double Delphi: The Rise and Fall of a Fisherman’s Fantasy”

  1. I enjoyed it enormously and loved your writing style. I was instantly transported to Delphi valley and reminded, like yourself, how much I love the place.

    I have to take my hat off to you for your strength and tenacity in achieving your wish to create something really special, despite the problems along the way. And despite the way things have evolved, you have left a lasting legacy to excellence both in fishing and a model for others to follow in the hospitality industry in Ireland.

    On to the Delphi Club! Another great success and I am proud to have bought our share in a project which I had no doubt would be a great success. The full details of the final stages of the building process are written such that those who knew none of the detail will be on the edge of their seats wondering how you were ever going to pull things off and eventually open the doors. “Don’t Stop the Carnival” seems tame by comparison.

    You rightly pay tribute to the wonderful team that you put together, in both Delphis, but loyalty is only bred from good leadership and of this you have aplenty. T

    The bibliography was an inspiration, especially as Tom had told me of “Twenty Years in the Wild West, or Life in Connaught” by Mrs Houston some time ago. I downloaded a copy and enjoyed it enormously, despite the cowboy cover! She must have given you a few of her genes along the way.

  2. Finished the book today and what a read. Read some of the chapters twice to get a real feel for the characters. I felt there could be a film in there to rival the Field. Met you just after your take over of Delphi when my brother and I went to fish Glencullen. I’ve always envied you in that scene on the brochure where your playing a salmon on the rock pool, little did I know you were spanner fishing. History will judge you well I expect. Your legacy is to great for it to be any other way. Enjoy the beautiful Test valley.

  3. Double Delphi
    A Review/Appreciation by William Brown

    If Peter Mantle’s gripping Memoir, Double Delphi, The Rise and Fall of a Fisherman’s Fantasy, is really the story of a fantasy, this could only be in the sense that it originated in what had seemed to be an impossibly ambitious dream. However, the hard reality is that against all the odds − there were many − his beautiful fantasy came true and lasted through thick and thin − there was much of the latter − for over twenty years. His arresting story, told with pace and humour, is eclectic in its wide episodic range involving both the happy and the horrendous, associated with which were many interestingly varied people, and sometimes central to which were a few rather weird characters.

    If that ‘horrendous’ sometimes gave Mantle many a headache, it also made for a highly delightful Memoir: ‘a measured but joyous romp through all the good times, alongside a sterner analysis of our many trials and a candid examination of our eventual departure and resurrection amid blue-green Bahamian waters.’ In that light, the Memoir’s title might seem to be a little misleading inasmuch as the Fall of his fantasy as here described relates to his leaving Delphi-Ireland, only one-half of that Double, whereas the other half, the equally beautiful Delphi-Bahamas, still remains un-fallen and is in fact regarded as a kind of ‘resurrection.’ Happily, the fall of Double Delphi, was not a double fall.

    The fisherman’s fantasy, like all fantasies, can take many different forms, and is a not uncommon feature in the voluminous annals of angling literature. G.E.M. Skues, that doyen of Victorian fly-fishers, once fantasised about an angler who went to heaven, the story of which I here take licence to paraphrase. On arrival ‘on that beautiful shore,’ our heavenly angler was conducted by ‘The Big Fisherman’, St. Peter himself no less, to the banks of the ever pristine Crystal River. There he was outfitted with the perfect dry-fly rod, reel and line, connected to the finest of leaders and a specially anointed Imperial dry-fly. Then, gazing upstream, the expectant angler observed a lovely brown trout regularly heading-and-tailing in the gently-flowing river, and just within casting range!

    Encouraged by St. Peter, he excitedly dropped a perfect cast just above the rising trout. Needless to say, his Imperial was smoothly taken, the trout decorously played, netted and, of course, released. In no time at all (for there is no such thing as time in heaven), the ubiquitous trout was rising again. On the nod from St. Peter, our excited angler cast once more, and with the same result as before. When this procedure was repeated several times over, the by now thoroughly sated and ever so slightly frustrated angler whispered, ‘Is it always like this? St. Peter uttered knowingly, ‘Always − and forever and ever!’ to which the nonplussed and incredulous angler muttered, though in sotto voce fashion, ‘Oh hell.’

    St Peter, of course, heard him and sagely, indeed magisterially replied, ‘Precisely my son!’ All of which might suggest that G.E.M. Skues the erudite thinker and seriously practical angler, although clearly capable of the romantic naturalist’s love of field and stream and of the beautiful idyll, could also take a rather cynical view of the fisherman’s high-flown fantasy. His story might therefore suggest a pithy parable of that apparently perfect bliss that can fall to earth in disillusionment. For realism demands that even the most romantic idyll and passion for the beautiful − which at best is hardly a joy forever − should be carefully balanced and tempered by the practical and the down-to-earth.

    To appreciate the rise and fall of the Mantle fantasy, we must consider why ownership of a wild west of Ireland fishing estate should be so described. The Memoir suggests that initially this was because the Delphic treasure seemed to be so inaccessible to an under-capitalised and perhaps over-imaginative young angler. However, this was an eclectic angler who also happened to be a lawyer, a trained accountant and financial journalist of considerable experience. So what at first seemed too good to be true, in fact became true, as by skilful and dogged economic management Mantle and a few confederates acquired the Delphi estate with its majestic mountains, chain of lakes and very own crystal river.

    But Delphi’s infrastructure was virtually derelict, in need of much refurbishment and development. Yet the indefatigable Mantle kept the fantasy going, and in a few years transformed Delphi into one of the great fishing lodge-estates of the world. In fact, Delphi is a unique idyll. On first approaching it along a winding Connemara road back in 1984, Peter Mantle tells us that his first impression was ‘awesome’ − ‘a valley of mesmerising beauty.’ Indeed, as anyone who has been there would agree, with respect and apologies to Tom Moore’s Vale of Avoca, Delphi is the most beautiful valley in all Ireland. But perhaps the centre-piece of the Delphi fishery is the sparkling little Bundorragha River.

    Often less than twenty yards wide and about a mile long, this tumbling stream with its loughs was once a world-class sea trout fishery with some salmon. But disaster struck shortly after Mantle’s arrival. The advent of estuarine salmon farms and their polluting sea lice infestations all but wiped out Delphi’s sea trout runs. A long legal battle with the salmon farms ensued, but in the absence of a really effective result Mantle believed that salvation might lie in improving the salmon runs by a hatchery programme − salmon are thought to be less vulnerable to sea lice. Delphi soon had improved runs of spring salmon and summer grilse, which could be caught on the river and loughs by single-handed rods!

    It is hardly surprising that the fame of such a paradise should spread far and wide among the international fly-fishing confraternity, and also the casual summer tourists. But the Memoir is especially interesting in its treatment of an idiosyncratic clientele − ranging from royalty, through famous actors and politicians, writers, industrialists, bankers, lawyers, clergy, surgeons, farmers, reformed / reforming terrorists, wheeler-dealers, and especially the inevitable carpetbaggers. Most, but sadly not all, of those encounters would provide Mantle with his greatest satisfaction − the craic and the post-prandial humour at Delphi’s common dining table each evening. However, some of those guests would give rise to his greatest trials, and in the end lead to the fall of his wonderful fantasy.

    Mantle’s graphic account of his relationship with one of the carpetbaggers reminds us of the adage that truth is stranger than fiction. It began with the arrival at Delphi of an apparently wealthy, highly plausible German lawyer, who would become a regular guest, staying at the Lodge each year for months on end. A popular and successful fisherman, he was a raconteur with the dry humour of a Henning Wehn. He had many and varied interests, and seemed to be quite the guru on almost any subject that might arise. From the start he claimed to be joint owner with his brother of a German law firm, which underpinned his authoritative image, but after some years the guru’s mask began to slip, as inconsistencies became more and more apparent. Eventually it emerged that he was in almost all respects a charlatan and serial fraudster, who had falsely purported to ‘invest’ the life-savings of trusting friends in Ireland, Britain and even of his mother in Germany.

    Years before this shocking revelation, there had been another development which lies at the Memoir’s core and is the dynamic for its Fall. The pseudo lawyer had befriended a few other wealthy German guests, hitherto unknown to him, who had become Delphi regulars and whose interest at first seemed confined to their love of Irish salmon fishing. However, in the course of a few years the Germans gradually ingratiated themselves and, perceiving Delphi’s need of a financial life-line, they suggested that Peter Mantle might admit them to a shareholding. Gradually, as demands on Mantle’s resources increased, they bought their way into what would become an increasingly controlling partnership, this leading to their eventual usurping and supplanting Mantle’s control and management, before effectively driving him out. In many respects this was his personal Paradise Lost.

    This is a compelling tale on several levels, and is beautifully told. Ranging from the sublime to the cor-blimey, from triumph to tragedy, it illustrates among other things the extreme difficulty in running a top-class wild fishery in straitened economic/ecological times. It is the story of the tragic fall of one part of the Peter Mantle’s Double fantasy, the fall of his beloved Delphi in lovely Mayo in the west of Ireland. The Memoir also suggests, but with a suitably delicate touch, that this was a fantasy and fall which had wider, albeit rather less painful, ramifications than his own. For it was also the dream of other fishermen who, apart from the beautiful Delphi idyll, had associated themselves with what Mantle calls the Delphi ethos − the relaxed and friendly open-house style. The new German landlords, largely absentee, could never remotely hope to replicate this.

    W. B.

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