Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/53

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45
SUPERSTITIONS OP THE SCOTTISH FISHERMEN.

of the friends of the deceased that he was compelled to quit Nairn, fur what harbour of refuge is not recorded.

There is a church in Fladda dedicated to St. Columba. It has an altar in the west end, and on it a blue stone of round form, which is always moist. It was an ordinary custom when any of the fishermen were detained in the island by contrary winds to wash this blue stone with water, in the hope of procuring a favouring breeze. This practice was said never to fail, especially if a stranger washed the stone.

Until within recent years no Cockenzie fisherman would have ventured out to sea had either a pig or a lame man crossed his path on his way to the beach. Not only so, but had a stranger met him of a morning and been the first to greet him with "a gude mornin" he would have regarded the interruption as an evil omen, and remained at home that day at least.

Another curious and superstitious custom used to prevail amongst fishermen. If, when at sea, especially when going out or coming into port, any one was heard to take the name of God in vain the first to hear the expression immediately called out "Cauld airn," when each of the boat's crew would instantly grasp fast the first piece of iron which came within his reach, and hold it for a time between his hands. This was done by way of counteracting the illluck which otherwise would have continued to follow the boat for the remainder of the day.

The ancient bell which formerly rung the good people of St. Manance to church, being suspended from a tree in the churchyard, was, strange to say, removed every year from that position during the herring season, the fishermen entertaining the superstitious belief that the fish were scared away from the coast by its noise!

Before striking their tents at Lammas, and bidding farewell for a while to the active, perilous occupations of the summer, the Orkney fishermen, who had been accustomed to associate during the season, met and partook of a parting cup, when the usual toast was, "Lord, open Thou the mouth of the grey fish and hold Thy hand above the corn!" This meeting was known by the name of the "Fishers' Foy."