IMA Source Catalog

Gathering all the sources for historical Irish martial culture in one place.


The Moreton Bay Courier Saturday 27 May 1854


“We have ever been disposed to pay the
mögt unqualified respect to the judicial
tribunals of the country, mid to those exulted administrators of the law whose
incorruptible purity is a source of pride
to their fellow countrymen and to admiration to others. But as men are
not infallible, even the Judges may occasionally commit on error or propound a

fallacy; and we feel assured that his
Honour Mr. Justice Dickinson made

a slip of this kind ou Saturday hist. As
the occasion was a trial for murder, and
is the culprit fate may be considered
as still pending, we shall endeavour so to
frame our remarks as to avoid prejudice

His Honour started what we cannot

but regard as a great and dangerous novelty. Everybody has heard that Irish-
men are addicted to the use of the stick,
or “shillelagh” ; and, no doubt, there
has been «great deal of exaggeration respecting this partiality. ‘Now Mr. Justice Dickinson thinks that on the trial
of an Irishman for murdering another
with a stick, or bludgeon, evidence respecting his native country may bo useful to the jury; because, argues his
Honour, Irishmen, being accustomed to

beat each other about the head with
sticks, might sometimes kill their
antagonists without intending it. In
other words, an Irishman, when merely
intending to give another a drubbing according to the custom of
his country, and having no intention
to kill or to do grievous bodily harm,
might chance to fracture a person’s skull,
without being guilty of murder. A
more dangerous doctrine we never heard
from the Bench ; and we do not wonder
that it created, as his Honour remarked,
some little -” emotion,” or that the Attorney-General replied to it with some
warmth. But this honourable and learned
officer of the law applied his remarks
more to what he conceived to be an offensive allusion to his countrymen, than to
the mischievous consequences likely to
result, in criminal proceedings; from the
opinion expressed by the Judge, his
Honour denied any intention of branding
the Irish people as assassins, and we feel
well assured that he had no such desire :
but ho wished to say that people of that
nation were very likely to kill each other
with sticks, without intending such a
crime. Herein consists the mischief of
the thing. To say that the customs of
a man’s country arc to be taken as evidence of his intention in beating another
on the head, is to offer facilities for the
evasion of justice. If such evidence
were ruled to bo good in law, we fear that
we should hear of many murders being
committed with sticks, and that the
perpetrators would invariably represent
themselves as Irishmen, who would have
a sort of privilege to fracture sculls. We
never before heard of any such distinction being made, and we cannot but think
that on this occasion the learned Judge
expressed an opinion without that calm
and philosophical deliberation for which
ho has usually been so highly distinguished.

October 7, 2012 Posted by | as crime, court, Old Newspaper clippings | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Saturday 7 November 1835

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Saturday 7 November 1835
…..At this
juncture, Mr. Constable Moore, who described himself as standing just opposite
Mr. Bruce’s door, came up and interfered in behalf of the latter; and after
an exchange of high words between the
parties, Moore collared Whelan with a
view of taking him to the watch-house
for having pushed Bruce, who refused to
go until he had delivered something he
had with him, at his master’s house.
Upon this, Moore, who was divested of
his jacket or baton of office, struck the
defendant a violent blow over the head
with his shillelagh, which the other resented by an immediate application to
fisticuffs. Moore being disarmed of his
shillelagh by some of the by-standers, in
order to render the encounter on a more
equal footing, he got considerably the
worst of the pugilistic scuffle that ensued
as a charming pair of black eye», with
beautifully cut nose and face could fully
testify; upon which be prudently withdrew to the adjoining watch house, where
having procured a reinforcement of authority, be returned to the scene of tumult,
and triumphantly bore off his antagonist
into custody.

October 7, 2012 Posted by | as crime, Old Newspaper clippings, pugilism | Leave a comment

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Monday 31 December 1827

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Monday 31 December 1827

On Christmas day, an assigned servant of Dr. Rutherford’s named Maher, in company with some of Sir John Jamison’s servants, went to bathe in the Nepean, when Maher, happening to go beyond his depth, was unfortunatly drowned, although every exertion had been made by the other men to render him ever assistance. It appears that the unfortunate man was an Irishman, and the other four being Englishmen. Dennis Delany who had been present
at the search made for the body, swore he would be revenged on the four men for the death of his countryman, and sure enough he was as good as his word, for he turned to with his shillelagh, with the utmost fury and struck at them most unmercifully. Two of them have been dreadfully wounded and in particular one of them is not expected to live, his head having been so severely cut that he has remained speechless ever since the affray. Delany on being interrogated why he had used such a weapon replied with the utmost coolness, that with
nothing in his hand but his fist he would convince any man present of what he could do. No one however compelled inclined to try the experiment.

October 6, 2012 Posted by | as crime, Historical descriptions, Old Newspaper clippings, prowess | Leave a comment

Shillelagh vs pistols 1837

The Cornwall Chronicle Saturday 23 December 1837
The Whiteboy – A Tale Of Truth
…”As I approached
the cries rose faint and short, and I soon discovered a female struggling violently with a well -dressed ruffian. I rushed to the spot, and wielding a knotty .blackthorn, bid the ruffian turn and defend himself. Great was my astonishment to discover Squire Craven, my father’s landlord, in the person before me. He turned with the rage of a tiger, and snatching a pistol from his bosom discharged it at me. Fortunately the ball only grazed my temple, and before he could present the second  pistol, I rushed upon him and leveled him to the earth. I beat him severely, and leaving him nearly motionless, I assisted the fainting object of his violence.

October 6, 2012 Posted by | Old Newspaper clippings, prowess | | Leave a comment

Bareknuckle Technique from a drawing at Kilmainham gaol, Dublin (Ireland) – Year 1818

Bareknuckle Technique from a drawing at Kilmainham gaol, Dublin (Ireland) – Year 1818

Contributed by Thorsten Schindler.

July 4, 2012 Posted by | Period illustration, political cartoons, pugilism | | Leave a comment

American Stick-Fighting: Hell comes to Frog Town

An excerpt from Dashiel Hammett’s  1924 short story “Nightmare Town”

Steve rocked back against a building front from a blow on his head, arms were round him, the burning edge of a knife blade ran down his left arm. He chopped his black stick up into a body, freeing himself from encircling grip. He used the moment’s respite this gave him to change his grasp on the stick; so that he held it now horizontal, his right hand grasping its middle, its lower half flat against his forearm, its upper half extending to the left.

Read the rest here:

March 5, 2012 Posted by | Faction fight descriptions, grip | Leave a comment

“The Foot Pad and the Cane” 1905;words=CANE+FOOTPAD?date1=1836&rows=20&searchType=basic&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=footpad+cane&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&index=1

One of the most interesting things to surface over the last few years.

January 7, 2012 Posted by | grip, Historical descriptions, kicking, Old Newspaper clippings, Period illustration | | Leave a comment

Faction Fighting Documentary

Here are links to a three part Irish Language documentary on Faction Fighting. I had my doubts at first but was pleasantly surprised. Highly recommended.

Na Chéad Fight Clubs (P1)

Na Chéad Fight Clubs (P2)

Na Chéad Fight Clubs (P3)

December 29, 2010 Posted by | as crime, Faction fight descriptions, Historical descriptions, other weapon, prowess, Stickfighting schools | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ottawa Valley Stickfighters

This incredible photo was dug up and shared by John Sullivan of the MSP

Here is the info he has given…

Unfortunately there is not much known about the men in the photo. The museum
where that photo sits is kind of on the boundary between the Shiner territory
and Walter Beckwith’s crew which would mean that there is a very very good
chance that these guys were Shiners. Beckwith’s faction was immediately down
river of ours and there was a close relation between the two that seemed fairly
civil. Beckwith (a Roman Catholic) was the man to hire Shiners exclusively as
the muscle for his interests on the river known as The Madawaske Roarers. There
were other factions in the area but as you noted there seems to be some pride in
those sticks which leads me to believe that these boys might be part of our old
crew. The fighting stick was very much part of our identity.

That being said you might put this quote by a media observer took a trip along
the “Whiskey Road” from Ottawa to Pembroke, as far as Foresters Falls where this
photo is from. If you google map “RocherFendu Ontario” you will see Foresters
Falls as well as Sullivan Island sitting in the river immediately to the east of
the town. not five miles further up the road was one of our hotels build by my
Great uncle Thomas in 1867
Taken from The Perth Courier Nov.29 1872 describing his observations of that
notorious road .
“A lumbering village of some twenty houses eight of which are hotels. No church
or meeting house but red rum in great abundance..murder is the business of the

Or maybe this one , but I cant find who wrote this, Memory says it was taken
from a court transcript as evidence given in court.

“In those days the only patent to a timber limit was a gang of fighting men, and
the operator who had the most formidable men got the timber. It was in 1836
that the Shiners became the terror of all the lumbermen.”

This image has been cropped. Please see the Modern Shillelagh Project page for the full image and to find out other information.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | description of sticks, Historical descriptions | Leave a comment

A few Australian stickfighting manual pics circa?

I am not sure of the source for these two pages. I received them via email in 2005 and was told they were from an Australian combatives manual. Now I am not saying that these depict Irish martial arts but I just thought I would put them up since the grip is similar and there might be some interest.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | Historical descriptions | 1 Comment