Burn the Fleet!

Fishermen are renowned for their beliefs and superstitions relating to their boats, fishing and the sea.

In Ireland, boats were usually given a female name, or the name of a saint, male or female.

In Galway, there was a tradition that several of the Conneely clan (Mac Conghaile) were turned into seals by magic, and so fishermen “would no more kill a seal, or eat of a slaughtered one, than they would have a human Coneely”.

It was unlucky to meet a red-haired woman when going to sea, or any red-haired creature – fox, hair, rabbit. Indeed, a fisherman would not even utter the name of these creatures when at sea. A Claddagh curse went: “May there be a fox on your fishing hook and a hare on your bait and may you kill no fish until St. Brigid’s Day.”

It was considered bad luck for a fisheman to learn to swim. Some believed it showed a lack of faith in the boat; others that struggling against the sea would result in a more stressful drowning.

This short animation is a reaction to the many and varied superstitions relating to fishing and the sea. Here our animator – Jessie – imagines a (somewhat counter-productive) way of getting around the superstitions.

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