The Herring Lassies

Despite the poor working conditions the girls would chat and sing while they worked.

This is a good example of one of the many songs they sang

 

 

Song of the Fish-Gutters
 
Come, a' ye fisher lassies, aye, it's come awa' wi' me,
Fae Cairnbulg an’ Gamrie an’ fae Inverallochie;
Fae Buckie an’ fae Aberdein an' a' the country roon,
We're awa' tae gut the herrin, we're awa' tae Yarmouth toon.
 
Rise up in the morning wi' yer bundles in yer han’
Be at the station early or ye'll surely hae to stan’,
Tak' plenty tae eat, an’ a kettle fer yer tea,
Or ye'll mebbe die o’ hunger on the wye tae Yarmouth Quay.
 
The journey it's a lang ane, an’ it tak's a day or twa,
An’ fa’n ye reach yer lodgin', sure it's soond asleep ye fa'
But ye rise at five wi' the sleep still in yer e'e
Ye’r awa' tae fin’ the gutting yards along the Yarmouth Quay.
 
It's early in the morning an’ it's late intae the nicht,
Yer han’s a' cut an’ chappit an’ they look an unco sicht;
An’ ye greet like a wean fa’n ye put them in the bree.
An’ ye wish you were a thoosand mile awa' frae Yarmouth Quay.
 
There's coopers there an’ curers there an’ buyers, canny chiels,
An’ lassies at the pickling an’ ithers at the creels,
An’ ye'll wish the fish had been a' left in the sea,
By the time ye finish guttin' herrin' on the Yarmouth Quay.
 
We've gutted fish in Lerwick an’ in Stornoway an’ Shields,
Worked along the Humber 'mongst the barrels an’ the creels,
Whitby, Grimsby, we've traivelled up an’ doon,
But the place to see the herrin' is the quay at Yarmouth toon

Another popular song in the doric dialect

THE FISHERMAN'S WIFE

Fa wid be a fisherman's wife Tae work wi' a tub an a scrubber an' a knife A deid oot fire an' a raivel'd bed An' awa tae the mussels in the mornin.

cho: Here we come scoorin in,  Three reefs tae the foresail in.  There's nae a dry stick tae pit on wer back,  But still we're aa teetotllers.

Noo, fa'll gie's a hand tae rin a ripper lead Tae try for a coddie in the bay o' Peterheid? They're maybe at the Lummies or the clock on Sautis'eid Fen we gaun tae the sma lines in the mornin.

Ma puir aul father's in the middle o' the flair Beatin heuks ontae tippets an they're hingin on his chair. They're made wi horses' hair, man, for that's the best o' gear Tae be gyan tae the fishin in the mornin.

Syne it's doon the Geddle Braes in the middle o' the nicht Wi an aul seerup tin an a can'le for a licht, Tae gaither up the pullars, ev'ry een o' them in sicht So we'll get the linie baited for the mornin.

It's easy to the cobbler, sittin in his neuk, His big copper kettle hingin on a crook. But we're in the boo and we cannae get a heuk It's sair hard work in the mornin.

It's nae the kin o' life that a gentle quine can thole Wi her fingers reid raw wi the scrubbin oot a yole An a littlen on her hip, she's awa tae cairry coal, She'll be caaed sair deen in the mornin.

Still an aa she widnae change for the gran'est o' yer gear For she never kens the minute when her hairt'll loup wi fear. For he's awa tae the sea an he's aa that she has dear She qued be a widow wi his bairn in the mornin.

Here's a translation for those that are not familiar with the 'Doric' dialect

Fa wid = Who would deid oot fire = no time to light it raivel'd bed = no time to make it scoorin = skelpin' (driving) Three reefs tae the foresail in = under high winds teetotllers = teetotalers gie's = give us ripper = metal bar with hooks, tied to a sea line coddie = codfish Lummies & Salt House Head = local landmarks gaun, gyan= going puir aul = poor old flair = floor Beatin heuks ontae tippets = attaching hooks to leaders syne = in time Wi an aul seerup tin an a can'le for a licht =  With an old syrup can (to hold the bait) & a candle for a light pullars = peeler crabs - soft-shelled for bait boo = bow quine = quean (young woman) thole = endure yole = fishing yawl littlen = little one caaed sair deen = get up for work too early gran'est o' yer gear = the best one might have loup = flip-flop qued = could bairn = child

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