MacPhail

The Oban Times - - NEWS - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­hoo.co.uk

Over the past few weeks, a num­ber of un­re­lated but sig­nif­i­cant events and en­coun­ters – both sad and happy – have brought the fish­ing in­dus­try to the fore­front of my mind and it spurred me on to dig out the verses of a song I started writ­ing a few years ago.

The down­ward spi­ral of the fish­ing in­dus­try in the UK and Ire­land is a mul­ti­fac­eted and sad story of un­nec­es­sary de­cline. The song is not an at­tempt to go into de­tail and ex­plain the quag­mire of tan­gled knots and many fac­tors that have led to this, but a sim­ple re­flec­tion on the sadness of the pass­ing of a once pow­er­ful and highly-re­spected in­dus­try.

While the in­dus­try is a shadow of what it was, fishermen still go to sea, boats are built and hope for the fu­ture.

The Last of the Hunters

Here’s a health to the fishermen who plough the lonely sea And bat­tle with the ocean where it’s in their blood to be. Dear the fruit­ful bounty of the blind and sav­age foam. They are the last of the hunters, and they’re proudly sail­ing home.

Sail­ing home, sail­ing home, The last of the hunters sail­ing home.

Away to the west­ward now against the flood­ing tide The hunters of the wild, now the last ones in our time. Through liv­ing gale and storm they sail, the crys­tal sea they roam

We’ll give a wel­come at the har­bour when the boats are sail­ing home.

From the mighty fleets of Yar­mouth to the deep-sea ships of Hull

The fa­mous Fleet­wood trawlers all have suf­fered from the cull In Lossiemouth, Lochin­ver, Fish­er­row and Pit­ten­weem Golden days in mem­ory, but now a fad­ing dream. Quiet now the har­bours where a dis­tant echo rings Eriskay and Scal­pay where the her­ring men were kings; Laden deep for Mal­laig and the Skip­per’s chair a throne Leg­ends of the sea and still their ghosts are sail­ing home. A realm of strong in­trepid men and heroes of renown

A shadow of the past and be­ing quickly torn down By those in suits not fit to wear the boots of fishermen

The heart torn out from the har­bour leav­ing scars that will not mend.

The lions of sea tied up in knots of weasels’ lies

Are fight­ing for sur­vival as their world quickly dies. Un­der cloaks of con­ser­va­tion, they’re be­ing left to die alone But we’ll stand upon their side again and hail them sail­ing home.

And in New­lyn, Ply­mouth, Brix­ham, Poole, The Wash and Grimsby town

North Sheilds and Eye­mouth, Peter­head, the Broch, they’ll hold their ground. Orkney, Shet­land and the He­brides, in Oban and Kin­tyre Kil­keel, the Isle of Man and Killy­begs, they will not die. So we’ll toast the Mal­laig trawlers and the creel men of the West

Pe­lagic ships of Whal­say and the sein­ers of Caith­ness, Brix­ham beam­ers, Cor­nish crab­bers, and in every pier and cove

We’ll give a wel­come at the har­bour when the boats are sail­ing home.

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