There can’t be many fiestas where a funeral is the focus of the celebrations. And probably none where that funeral is for a 20ft papier-mâché fish. But this is how the folk of the pretty harbour town of Aberaeron mark the end of mackerel season in late-August each year. It’s their way of giving thanks for the continued abundance of the scomber scombrus – the humble mackerel – whose arrival each summer provides food, income and the return of dolphins to Cardigan Bay.
The timetable for the day is generally thus. The cortège – complete with ‘super-sized’ mackerel effigy, carried by 6 bearers – meets outside The Harbourmaster Hotel. Mourners are invited to follow the funeral party across town to Aberaeron Yacht Club, where a blessing is given by the local rev. This is then followed by the obligatory wake (barbecue, live music and an ample bar) and at sunset our dearly-departed mackerel is carried onto the beach and cremated.