The Wild Herrings (1987 Session)

Updated following some great comments so make sure to read them. Look forward to more feedback and thanks for taking the time to post!


Photo (c) Irene Pender

The Wild Herrings were formed in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal in 1985 and remained active until 1987. The band consisted of John Kane (guitar), Fiona Pender (vocals and sax), Irene Pender (vocals), Patsy O Kane (bass) and Michael Christie (drums). Four of the Wild Herrings went on to form punk-pop group The Malfunctions who reached 27 in the single charts. The Malfunctions (minus singer Fiona) became Georgia who knocked Bryan Adams off number 1 with their single “Sends Me High” on Danceline Records only to be disqualified because too many of the sales were in the north-west of Ireland! Micheal Christie is currently active with The Boxtie Band. I never managed to see them live, maybe they didn’t make it as far south as Limerick but have read of a Bundoran gig. I was lucky enough to catch their Fanning Session though and thankfully record it. The quality isn’t great but hopefully that won’t detract too much from what I think are some standout tunes. Without further ado..

Update: Fiona and Irene are back gigging again as The Pender Sisters and have played a couple of shows in Derry at Sandinos and Cafe Del Mondo. They are playing a post Christmas show in Dicey Reilly’s bar in Ballyshannon on December 27th from 10.30 to 12.30 if you’d like to catch them.

Up Donegal

Buy Me A Drink

Fat Politicians

Crash & Burn

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26 Responses to “The Wild Herrings (1987 Session)”

  1. They were actually from Ballyshannon in Co Donegal – my brother played trumpet with them when he was about 13!

  2. Fanning Sessions Says:

    Thanks Jasper have corrected that, not sure where I got Killybegs but I was sure that’s where they were from. So did your brother do any gigs or was it all studio work?

  3. I’m pretty sure it was just studio work. Four of the Wild Herrings (including my brother) formed a similar punk-pop group called The Malfunctions who had one single reach no 27 (i think). The Malfunctions (minus the singer Fiona) became Georgia who actually knocked Bryan Adam’s “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” off no1 with a tune called “Sends Me High” but they got disqualifed from the charts cause too many of their records sales were in the north-west of Ireland! I think that made it made the front page of The Irish Press!!!

  4. michael christie Says:

    hi im michael christie the herrings drummer. glad you liked the fanning session- have never met anyone who even remembers that band.
    anyway the wild herrings were:
    john kane-guitar fiona pender -vocals and sax irene pender-vocals
    patsy o kane -bass and myself.
    we lasted from 1985 – 1987 (christ was it that long ago)
    i currently play with johnny gallagher and the boxtie band which is a different beast entirely- check it out on youtube.
    finally i also did a fanning session in 1989 with the malfunctions which also had fiona pender as lead singer.

  5. Fanning Sessions Says:

    Hello Micheal, great to hear from you. I am a big fan of The Wild Herrings as you can probably tell from the recordings – the tape is almost worn out! Can you tell me some more about the recordings you made, how many songs did you record for Dave Fanning, did I get them all or are there more? Do you have any photos or posters, I would love to add an image or two for posterity’s sake..

  6. Fanning Sessions Says:

    Posted a Malfunctions track over here: https://fanningsessions.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/the-malfunctions/

  7. just letting you know that Fiona (Fido) still plays sax in a selection of ska bands I think. Paranoid Visions intend recording a version of “fat politicians and materialistic priests” for either vol 2 or vol 3 of their compilation eps chronicalling the underground music scene in the early 80’s (the first of which was the treasure on the wasteland / high cost of living / reptile e.p)

  8. gary o brien Says:

    i have been looking for the song fat politicains for years . yep another one here that recorded these songs off fanning . tryed u tube ect , the wild herrings this is mad ,
    the quest is over ,

  9. Irene Pender Says:

    Fiona and I are playing again – The Pender Sisters – we’ve had a couple of gigs in Derry and around. Fat Politicians is still on the list! I’ve been overseas for about 20 years so it’s cool to be back playing. Fiona is playing sax and accordian and I’m on guitar, and of course we’re both singing. I’ve photos up on Facebook if you’re curious …

  10. Fanning Sessions Says:

    Hello Irene, thanks for stopping by! Great to hear you are gigging, hopefully I’ll be able to catch you in the flesh this time round 😉 Any chance of a MySpace page for The Pender Sisters so you can keep us posted of gigs? I can help out if you like..

  11. Irene Pender Says:

    Go for it!!! I’m technically illiterate and Fiona’s allergic. We’re playing in Dicey Reilly’s bar in Ballyshannon on December 27th from 10.30 to 12.30 if you’re really keen. Not too sure about how much flesh you’ll see – it’s a bit chilly for that!

  12. great to hear those tracks again.

  13. malachy Says:

    i often sing Crash and Burn to myself despite not having heard it in over 20 years so it was great to come across this after googling it! This brings back the memories. Fat Politicians is a great song. Much better than i remember. Great lyrics

  14. yes fat Politicians a great pop song. wears its heart on its sleeve. Some great irish songs from the eighties. Guitar on this terrific

  15. gerrymolyneaux Says:

    fantastic.mates mentioned youse yrs ago.have had the bald aggresssion tape from the 80s,they were a great letterkenny band.last 2 of yr trax were great pity not on vinyl.one of lads who dis neu carnage fanzine in late 70s early 80s paul mc carroll from donegal used to go to yr gigs.any chance of posting any pix,theres a huge interest in retro irish punk.also i have yr malfunctions 7”.

  16. Oh Man Hennigans in Sligo Terry Browne ( RIP ) Wild Herrings Midwitch Cuckoos. The Good Old Days …….. They Really Did Exist

  17. Hey ye forgot to mention The Mutant Frogs ………………. formed from the ashes of the Herrings and Cuckoos in London. I still have their Demo they sent me

  18. ‘Hennigans’ of Sligo (of the 50s/60s/70s), before the actual Hennigans sold it, was the bee’s knees. Proper artisans meeting point. It went south quickly during the following ownership. ‘Georgia’, how they are missed. Legendary Donegal band.

  19. Irene Pender Says:

    SHI-ITE, better get practising …

  20. gerry molyneaux Says:

    the HERRINGS<OUTCASTS<AND BOYS.that would be worth seeing.saw john plain of the boys playing arthurs thomas st last night.great gig.how bout getting THE BOYS and OUTCASTS and HERRINGS together in letterkenny???

  21. Real shame they dont shows which promote bands like these. All about ratings now

  22. colmkavanagh2015 Says:

    Found an old tape with a Fanning session……tracks included: Up Donegal, Buy Me A Drink, Materialistic, and Crash & Burn! Think I have ye on video somewhere, from your appearance(s) on RTÉ’s ‘Screen Test’!

  23. Irene Pender Says:

    If you ever find it and miraculously convert it to DVD I’d live a copy. Although I remember one of the bitchy judges in the heat going on about me looking at the mic instead of the audience/camera – COW

  24. Declan Bradley Says:

    Hi Irene. This is class timing… I have a version of your Screen Test appearance. I was looking for more footage of my late brother Mark Bradley’s bands (Ego Minefield / Macbeth) and found it, he must have recorded it, (I think you guys knew Mark’s friend Rory McCann who also played with Mark for a bit). Anyway I guessed it might be nice for ya to see again so I converted it and just this minute uploaded it to Youtube and while waiting for it to load I found this page… haha. Sorry about the crap quality, VHS tape was nearly ready to snap. ps. Nice to see my good mates Bald Aggression get a mention above and also Midwitch Cuckoos who’s bassist Marty McElroy went on to join Mark in Ego Minefield) anyway, again, sorry for crap VHS tape lines but here it is, Enjoy! https://youtu.be/H9CbSy-KH8Q

  25. Irene Pender Says:

    You’re a star, thanks a million 🙂

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