Breedloves's Folk Songs


    “Shoals Of Herring” was written for the third of the eight BBC radio ballads by Ewan
    MacColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger. It was about the herring fishery and
    fishermen, and the song was designed specifically to highlight the life-story of Sam
    Larner, who had spent a long life as a herring fisherman, but was retired at the time of the
    recording. He first went to sea, he said, in 1892, when he was just a boy. “Shoals Of
    Herring” was also recorded by The Clancy Brothers.
    With our nets and gear we’re faring
    On the wild and wasteful ocean.
    Its there that we hunt and we earn our bread,
    As we hunted for the shoals of herring.
    O it was a fine and a pleasant day,
    Out of Yarmouth harbor I was faring,
    As a cabin boy on a sailing lugger,
    For to go and hunt the shoals of herring.
    O the work was hard and the hours long,
    And the treatment, sure it took some bearing.
    There was little kindness and the kicks were many,
    As we hunted for the shoals of herring.
    O we fished the Swarth and the Broken Bank,
    I was cook and I’d a quarter sharing.
    And I used to sleep standing on my feet,
    And I’d dream about the shoals of herring.
    O we left the home grounds in the month of June,
    And to Canny Shiels we soon were bearing.
    With a hundred cran of silver darlings,
    That we’d taken from the shoals of herring.
    Now you’re up on deck, you’re a fisherman,
    You can swear and show a manly bearing,
    Take your turn on watch with the other fellows,
    While you’re searching for the shoals of herring.
    In the stormy seas and the living gales,
    Just to earn your daily bread you’re daring.
    From the Dover Straits to the Faroe Isles,
    As you’re following the shoals of herring.
  • O I earned my keep and I paid my way,
    And I earned the gear that I was wearing.
    Sailed a million miles, caught ten million fishes,
    We were sailing after shoals of herring.

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