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The Ring-Net Fishermen

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Angus Martin

1981, 1996



From the back cover:
To meet popular demand John Donald is presenting a new paperback edition of this famous text, first published some fifteen years ago.

This is partly the chronicle of the development of ring-net fishing: the angry resistance by traditional fishermen, with its toll of imprisonment, starvation, and blood, until it attained its maximum development, only to be replaced by purse seine-net and mid-water trawl.

But this book is more than a history of the ring net, for the author, himself a fisherman, is primarily concerned with the fishermen and their way of life ashore and afloat; their traditions, their clothing, their superstitions, their boats and equipment, their sea lore, their nature lore and their recreation.

A vivid picture of the life and work of the fishermen from the early nineteenth century to the present day.

Excerpt from the author's introduction:
Twenty-two years have passed since I began researching this book: exactly half a lifetime ago. Practically all the men I interviewed are dead, and the ring-netting itself is just a memory. I am glad that I experienced the final years of the fishery, albeit as an untrained youth, first with Willie Gillies in the Westering Home, out of Campbeltown, and later from Carradale, with Argyll McMillan in the Silver Fern and Alistair McMillan in the Maid of Honour. It was a civilised and highly skilled job, and the boats were beautiful. Or are these the judgments of a middle aged romantic? I, at least, think not.

This book had its origin in a programme of tape-recording in the fishing communities of Tarbert, Campbeltown and Carradale begin in April, 1974. The initial stimulus to activity was provided by the artist Will McLean, who was by then already engaged in researching the history of ring-netting. His concern was primarily with visual documentation, and the result was an exhibition of photographs, plans, and drawings presented in Glasgow at the beginning of 1978, and now the property of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.

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