“The Fisherman of Wexford”


The rule that none fish Wexford Bay St Martin's Eve was broken once: "upon that holy day Came a wondrous shoal of herring." Against women's cries the men went out to "sweep the Bay"; only two boats are saved when "a human shape" waves them back to shore.


Ranson: The ballad states that "Upon St Martin's Eve no net shall be let down ... within the scope of Wexford Bay." No one knows when or how the rule was established. "Down to recent years no fisherman would dare put to sea on St Martin's Eve. This ballad is very popular on the Wexford coast. I have never heard it sung, but it is often recited." - BS

Historical references

  • Nov 10, 1762: 70 are lost in Wexford Bay fishing disasters (source: Ranson; Bourke in _Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast_ v1, p. 52)


  1. Ranson, pp. 21-23, "The Fisherman of Wexford" (1 text)
  2. BI, Ran021


Author: John Boyle O'Reilly
Earliest date: 1948 (Ranson)
Found in: Ireland