IMA Source Catalog

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

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

MacGregor’s lecture on the Art of Defence, Paisley 1791

Dug up by Louie Pastore:

“I am told that a number of the Irish are very good at fighting with 
two sticks, viz. a short one in their left hand to guard with and a 
long one in their right, which they manage with amazing dexterity. 
This is practicing sword and dagger, the same as the evolutions of the 
backsword are performed with cudgels”
MacGregor’s lecture on the Art of Defence, Paisley 1791

February 20, 2009 Posted by | description of sticks, grip, knife, prowess | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cavan Observer 1864


MANSLAUGHTER IN THE COUNTY CAVAN–It is our painful duty to detail another case in which ungovernable passion, prompting the use of a dreadful weapon, known as a “loaded butt” has eventuated in the taking of life. The facts and circumstances of the present case, as transpired at the coroner’s inquest, appear to be, that a man, named Matthew FARRELLY, who resided between Bailieborough and Shercock, was, on the evening of the 11th ult., drinking in the public-house of William SLOANE, at Shercock. Farrelly was in conversation with a girl, when two men, named Daniel MARRON and Owen M’KENNA entered the house. Some altercation took place between the parties, when Marron struck Farrelly with a stick loaded with lead, and knocked him down. Whilst on the ground, Marron and his companion, M’Kenna, beat their victim so as to render him insensible, and from the effects of which he remained unconscious up to the hour of his death, which took place on the 26th ult. The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of manslaughter against Marron and M’Kenna, and they were committed to the county gaol to abide their trial at the forthcoming assizes. Our local magistrates have had frequently to comment on the use of this dreadful weapon–a “loaded butt”; and not long since, Mr. Thompson remarked that he would rather defend himself from a loaded pistol than a “loaded butt.” It is time that the use of these deadly instruments should be put a stop to.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | as crime, description of sticks, Old Newspaper clippings, prowess | , | Leave a comment

Cavan Observer May 30, 1863


The case of Thomas BENSON v. Michael M’KEON which was adjourned from lst Court day, to enable M’Keon to produce witnesses, was next heard.

Benson swore positively that it was M’Keon who hit him on the head with a loaded “butt” on the evening of the 14th inst. in Church lane….Three witnesses were produced for the defence who deposed that M’Keon did not strike Benson, but whilst both of them had a hold of the “butt” some person in the crowd; whom they did not know, struck Benson a blow on the head…The witnesses differed in their description of the manner M’Keon held the “butt” in his hand at the time…..The Court directed the “butt” to be produced. It is a short stick, loaded with lead at the end, and covered over with leather. It is certainly a desperate weapon, and a blow from it would knock down a bull…..

Mr. GALLOGLY proved that he was passing through Church-lane on the evening in question, when he observed a row going on; saw Benson M’Keon, and COURTNEY standing close by quietly looking on; witness went to take a stone from a boy who was about to fling it, and when he turned round saw Benson bleeding, and having a hold of the “butt” in M’Keon’s hand…..

Constable M’CARTHY proved that he knew M’Keon for five years, and never heard of any charge against him. He considered him a man of good character…

M’Keon was fined 1l. and 1l. costs or one month’s imprisonment–the costs and one third of the fine to go to Benson.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | as crime, court, description of sticks, Old Newspaper clippings | , , , | Leave a comment

Murder in the County of Cavan

The Times
London, Middlesex, England

March 24, 1856

(From Our Own Correspondence) 
Dublin, Saturday Morning

Murder in the County of Cavan

The following letter, dated Ballyconnell Wednesday morning, appears in the Express. The outrage, brutal as it was, can scarcely come under the class of murder, being rather a case of aggravated manslaughter, arising out of the drunken orgies with which too many of the lower orders delight to honour the natal day of the patron saint: – “Another fell and foul murder has been committed in this doomed locality, almost on the very spot where the unfortunate MR. GALLAHER was shot in May, 1845, and, I may state, not far from the police barrack. I give you some particulars; – We had on Monday (St. Patrick’s Day) a fair, which was attended by a vast crowd of idle young fellows, who towards evening began to beat and batter every person in any way obnoxious to them. A decent, quiet, inoffensive man, name JOHN GALLAHER, who lives near the town, was going home about 9 PM., quite sober, and, having crossed the bridge, he found a party of those ruffians beating a boy name CASSIDY. He begged of them to desist, when they turned on him, and, with short sticks loaded and lead, battered his skull in. He contiued to live, suffering intesely, untill last night. The boy CASSIDY is not expected to live many hours. Some fellows, supposed to be the murderers, have been arrested by the police. I have just heard on good authority that two parties of these ruffians were on Monday for above an hour in two houses, whose names I have heard also, running lead to the end of short sticks that could carry under their coats.”

January 24, 2009 Posted by | as crime, description of sticks | , , | Leave a comment