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My Blog

Shillelagh..a weapon!

Good morning to everyone.  I hope that you are enjoying the day.  As I sit, I am all aglow from the sun streaming through my living room window.  Although there is still snow on the ground.  It appears to be a lovely day outside.  They predict that the temperature will rise to 50.  A very pleasant thought indeed. 
My blog for the day is a continuance about St. Patty's Day.  I started thinking about a shillelagh.   I have heard of it...seen pictures of it, and perceived it to be no more than the terminology of the Irish for a walking stick. 
When I get a thought in my head ...it just seems to fester until I find the answers.  Well, to my surprise, a shillelagh is not only a walking stick, but a weapon as well.
It is made from the wood of a Blackthorn and is usually covered with butter or lard and then placed up a chimney to cure which in turn, gives it that dark black look.
It may often be filled with molten at the hitting end to give it more weight....you see, the shillelagh is a form of weapon that was often used in a duel. They usually have a handle of some sort at it's top to also use as an aid in striking the blow. 
By the 19th century Irish shillelagh-fighting had evolved into a practice which involved the use of three basic types of weapons, sticks which were long, medium or short in length.
Shillelaghs are sometimes referred to in a similar context in folk songs, such as in "Finnegan's Wake," in which the term "shillelagh law" refers to a brawl, and in the 19th century song "Rocky Road to Dublin," in which references are made to fashioning a shillelagh, using it to hold a tied bag over one's shoulder, and using it as a striking weapon.
Now I am beginning to understand when there are remarks about the fighting Irish.  It was quite amazing to me to hear the description of this walking stick.  I have always connected them to just an aid to get up a hill or to help in clearing brush away from the path you may tread.  All the stories of Leprechauns and rainbows, pots of gold and trickery...never made me think that there was any weapon in the picture. 
So let it not be said that the search of walking sticks not be ended here.  I discovered that although the first sticks were probably used to help one stand, they became both weapons and symbols of authority.  The larger and stronger the man, the larger the stick.  As centuries passed, man added stones, points and hatchets to the sticks, which then became weapons as well as walking aides.  The most elaborate of sticks would belong to the chiefs of tribes.  These were often elaborately carved with emblems pertaining to the particular tribe itself. European kings used canes or sticks as a symbol of authority and in fact jewels were often added to their sticks. 
We are so accustomed to a stick being used as a cane or a walking aid...I never imagined it to be anything more.  Well...that just goes to show you that no matter how old we get, there is still so much more to learn.  I am pleased  to learn that the use of the shillelagh has been outlawed as a weapon these days, but I must admit...the vision of someone shaking the stick now not only makes me chuckle...but brings a whole new concept to mind. 

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