., 2002 ). Fairs were timed to coincide with the peak migration of herring past that point along the coast (Kowaleski, 2010 ). Flavin noted from the Bristol accounts that sailings from Ireland with fish tended to coincide with fairs, and to exploit the Lenten market. She noted that in one year thirty-one per cent of the annual trade with Ireland took place in the month of March, and seventeen per cent in just one day (9 March) (Flavin, 2004 ). These patterns are notable in the Chester accounts too.
The biggest limitation to an examination of
developed based on the fishing activities of residents, but the fishing industry encouraged the migration of foreign fishermen, too. To some degree fishing-oriented settlement will have varied in terms of numbers of residents depending on the season, with some settlements probably temporarily abandoned out of season. It is difficult to elucidate these numbers, but there were certainly hundreds if not thousands of foreign fishermen at large ports, as well as small coastal places near fishing sites. One identified example of a small coastal fishing settlement was at
, 2011 ). If fish was used as a synonym for herring, then the small number of official entries in the records from the second half of the sixteenth century can be explained by a reduction in fish exports due to the migration of shoals away from the Irish Sea coasts. We also cannot discount the possibility that the Henrician Reformation affected fish consumption patterns in England, with knock-on effects felt on the Irish fishing economy.
Owing to herring's irregular migratory patterns, the Irish fish export trade was speculative