Category Archives: Culture: songs, stories, photography and art

Traditions and culture relevant to the world of real boating and sailors

Fishermen, 1959

BFI fishermen

Fishermen, 1959, with music by Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and co.  Essential viewing, I’d say. My thanks to Chris Brady for spotting this one.

‘With their nets and cable winches, their boxes and their creels. They’re the lads that bring the harvest into Shields.” An epic in miniature set into sea-faring song by radical folk musicians Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, fishermen aboard the Ben Torc diesel trawler battle rain and sleet squalls and black nights on the North Sea, risking their lives for little reward to bring home the fresh catch to market in North Shields.’

The Aran Islands

The Aran Islands

Read JM Synge’s The Aran Islands here, or buy a copy here.

‘The geography of the Aran Islands is very simple, yet it may need a word to itself. There are three islands: Aranmor, the north island, about nine miles long; Inishmaan, the middle island, about three miles and a half across, and nearly round in form; and the south island, Inishere—in Irish, east island,—like the middle island but slightly smaller. They lie about thirty miles from Galway, up the centre of the bay, but they are not far from the cliffs of County Clare, on the south, or the corner of Connemara on the north.

‘Kilronan, the principal village on Aranmor, has been so much changed by the fishing industry, developed there by the Congested Districts Board, that it has now very little to distinguish it from any fishing village on the west coast of Ireland. The other islands are more primitive, but even on them many changes are being made, that it was not worth while to deal with in the text.

‘In the pages that follow I have given a direct account of my life on the islands, and of what I met with among them, inventing nothing, and changing nothing that is essential. As far as possible, however, I have disguised the identity of the people I speak of, by making changes in their names, and in the letters I quote, and by altering some local and family relationships. I have had nothing to say about them that was not wholly in their favour, but I have made this disguise to keep them from ever feeling that a too direct use had been made of their kindness, and friendship, for which I am more grateful than it is easy to say.’

And here’s a favourite quotation from later in the book:

‘A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned,’ he said, ‘for he will be going out on a day he shouldn’t. But we do be afraid of the sea, and we do only be drownded now and again.’

Canoe tricks with Reg Blomfield

A charming 1930s film made at Stoney Lake, Ontario showing improbable things being done with a Canadian canoe. My thanks to Bob Holtzman for spotting this one…