Fish Gutters

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Fish Curing, Coonanna, Co. Kerry (Image Credit: National Library of Ireland, Lawrence Collection)

Women were often responsible for gutting the fish. Gutting was frequently carried out standing at large tables. Firstly the women sorted the fish, removing any that had lost their heads or become bruised or torn. These fish were not wasted, but packed separately.

The gutters sorted the remaining fish into baskets. Using sharp knives, they then made an incision from the throat to the backbone of each fish, removing its gut, liver, stomach and gills (Brabazon, The Deep Sea and Coast Fisheries of Ireland, citing Sir Thomas Dick Launder, pp.84-87). It was essential that gutting took place on the day that the fish were caught. The fish were then washed in fresh water to prevent them decaying. 

The image at the top of the page shows a fish curing station in Co. Kerry, including the table where the fish would have been gutted and salted.  Many West Cork stations would have been similar.


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