The Shoals of Herring

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The Shoals of Herring (Roud 13642) is a ballad, written by Ewan MacColl for the third of the original eight BBC Radio ballads[1] Singing the Fishing, which was first broadcast on August 16, 1960.[2] Ewan MacColl writes that the song was based on the life of Sam Larner, a fisherman and traditional singer from Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk, England.[3]:46

It has been recorded by The Spinners, The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers, The Corries, Three City Four (Martin Carthy, Leon Rosselson, Ralph Trainer and Marian McKenzie), Astrid Nijgh (in Dutch, as De scholen haring), Schooner Fare, Patrick Clifford and Breabach. It was also featured on the soundtrack for the 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis, performed in the film by Oscar Isaac (accompanied on the soundtrack by Punch Brothers).

In an example of the folk process, the song's title and refrain have altered to "The Shores of Erin" when sung by some Irish traditional singers.[4]


  1. ^ [1] Notes on the song, by Dick Gaughan.
  2. ^ [2] Notes on the song.
  3. ^ MacColl, Ewan (1963). Ewan MacColl - Peggy Seeger Songbook. New York: Oak Publications. 
  4. ^ Linstead, Stephen (2007). "Chapter 14: Exploring Culture and Collective Identity with the Radio-Ballads". In Pullen, Alison; Beech, Nic; Sims, David. Exploring Identity: Concepts and Methods. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 251–273. ISBN 978-1-4039-8983-3. 

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