Wednesday, July 4, 2018


The blackthorn tree root forms the knob on the Shillelagh that was historically used as a poor man's
weapon in Ireland. The Shillelagh is a cudgel or club that was traditionally smothered with butter and hung for months in a chimney to cure.

Occasionally, the hitting end of a Shillelagh was hollowed out and filled with molten lead, thus increasing the weight and the potential damage one could inflict.

The name is derived from the Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow, Ireland.

The Shillelagh has been romanced in stories along with songs and has evolved as part of the logo of professional sporting teams as well as an insignia of military regiments.

A Shillelagh should not be confused with its taller cousin, the Irish walking stick. The Irish walking stick is also typically sourced from blackthorn wood but it is longer and it is often carried for aesthetic appreciation as well as for mobility issues.

The Irish Gift House is happy to share this poem about the iconic Shillelagh:

Oh no! It’s not a walking stick,
It’s carried neath one’s arm,
For though it was a weapon,
It kept you free from harm.

For long ago invaders came,
To Ireland’s pleasant shore,
Those Danes were fearsome fighting men,
With sword and shield and more.

To kill or plunder was their aim,
And pretty girls to snatch,
But when they reached Shillelagh,
They found they’d met their match!

The peaceful farmers had no swords,
Their homesteads to defend,
But they knew that on the Blackthorn,
Their lives they could depend.

They cut stout sticks,
Then joined the fight,
And quickly put the Danes to flight,
Such exploits brought Shillelagh fame,
And to the stick they gave its name.

- Author Unknown

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