Whipping the Herring an Easter Saturday Tradition in Dundalk

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372-P-N-Grogan-Whipping-the-Herring-out-of-Town
Whipping the Herring out of Town, a scene of Cork -Natanial Gogan, circa 1800 (Available to view in Crawford Gallery, County Cork

Henry Morris, Dundalk;

‘The people of the town kept the fast of Lent so manfully that no meat was eaten there during Lent. This greatly set back the killers of beef, the butchers, and on each Easter Saturday, when their good season was returning they bought a herring, and hung it upon a straight strong lath nine feet long. Then they got big long rods and walked through the town from Gallows Hill to the Big Bridge, beating the poor herring until hardly a fin was left. On reaching the bridge they hurled the horrid herring into the water with insult, and hung up a quarter of lamb decorated with ribbons and flowers in its place, and went back to the market place, playing tunes and loudly boasting to each other.’

Claidheamh Soluis, 12 April 1902

The tradition of Whipping the Herring was once widespread in the towns of east of  Ireland, whilst the chosen date of the festivities varied, in different towns, between  Easter Saturday, Sunday or  Monday.