> Danny Spooner > Songs > Culler Herrin’

Caller Herring

[ Roud 18353 ; Ballad Index RcSilHer ; Bodleian Roud 18353 ; trad. / Lady Nairne]

Jean Redpath sang Caller Herring on her 1977 BBC Television Series album Ballad Folk and in 2009 on her Greentrax album of the songs of Lady Nairne, Will Ye No Come Back Again?.

Cilla Fisher sang Caller Herrin’ on her 1983 album Songs of the Fishing.

Tony Cuffe recorded the tune Caller Herrin’ in 2001 a short time before his untimely death. This was released in 2003 on his posthumous Greentrax CD Sae Will We Yet. Stuart Eydmann noted:

Nathaniel Gow, son of the great fiddler Niel, composed this miniature tone poem for harpsichord around 1798 to capture the traditional cries of the Edinburgh fishwives heard against the carillon of a city church. Lady Nairne (Carolina Oliphant, 1766-1845) added verses in the 1820s and donated proceeds from its publication to Gow who was by then bankrupt.

Danny Spooner sang Culler Herrin’ on his 2002 CD Launch Out on the Deep and, in a July 2002 live recording, on the 2004 anthology of the Douarnenez Harbour Festival, Douarnenez port de fête. He commented in his CD’s liner notes:

I first heard this from a friend of my mother’s, a Mrs McColl (no relation to Ewan). It is said that the words are by Lady Nairne and reflect her great regard for the Scottish fisher-folk. ‘Culler herrin’’ or fresh herring was the cry of the fisher women as they paraded the day’s catch for sale.


Danny Spooner sings Culler Herrin’

Chorus (after each verse):
Buy my culler herrin’
They’re bonny fish and halesome farin’
Buy my culler herrin’
Fresh ta’en frae the Forth

When you’re sleepin’ on your pillow
Think ye ought o’ our brave fellows
Darkling on the stony billows
A’ to fill their woven willows?

When the bonny creel it passes
Ladies dressed in silks and laces
Gather up their fine pelisses
Turn their heads and screw their faces

Now neighbour’s wives content me tellin’
When the bonny fish you’re sellin’
At your word be all you’re dealin’
Truth will stand when all things fallin’

Buy my culler herrin’
They’re no’ brought here without brave darin’
Buy my culler herrin’
Ye dinna ken their worth