IMA Source Catalog

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

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:

http://fencingclassics.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/american-stick-fighting/#more-1851

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

“The Foot Pad and the Cane” 1905

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1905-08-20/ed-1/seq-4/;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

Some NY Times quotes 1857, 1861, 1878, 1895, 1924

Contributed by Stephen Logan:

December 5, 1857 p. 1 (excert from a longer, extremely interesting article that is well worth a read)

NY Times

ERIE RAILROAD STRIKE. Two Hundred Men Discharged at Peirmont – They Drive Off New Employees. Twenty-Five Metroploitan Volunteers Dispatched to the Scene of Riot. THE RIOTERS ARMED WITH MUSKETS AND CANNONS.

…Heedless of their threats, however, the Superintendent came to the city and hired two hundred laborers, who were got together and sent ip to Piermont on Thursday. They found upon their arrival the whole place up in arms and ready to give them a warm reception. They attempted to land but were warned off, but being placed alongside the dock by the steamboat there was bo alternative but to land and vindicate their claim to hold the place against the rebels. Clubs, stones, and missles of all kinds were now put in requisition, adnt he invanding and repelling forces were joined in a fierce contest. The new comers were seized and pitched into the dock, they were pummeled with shillelaghs and fists until they were obliged to beat a retreat. They entrenched themselves on board the boat, put their wounded under the care of the surgeon, (the cook,) and waited for thte steamer to carry them back to the City…

July 8, 1861 p. 4

European Emigration to this Port for the Half Year

…Of course no son of Erin would ever think of going over to America or New York – which is about the same thing – after he heard that; for, Pat is proverbially of a beligerent turn of mind, and has lately shown himself as happy to wield a rifle in Virginia as heretofore a shillelagh at Donnybrook, it could hardly be expected that he would emigrate with his wife and his brood of young ones to a country where a general scrimmage ended in a universal flight for life…

January 20, 1878 p. 4

A BRAVE TROOPER – When gallant Ponsonby lay grievously wounded on the field of Waterloo, he forgot his own desperate plight while watching an encounter between a couple of French lancers and one of his own men, cut off from his troop. As the Frenchmen came down upon Murphy, he, using his sword as if it were a shillelagh, knocked their lances alternately aside again and again. The suddenly setting spurs to his horse, he galloped in hot pursuit, but not quite neck and neck. Wheeling round at exactly the right moment, the Irishman, rushing at the foremost fellow, parried his lance and struck him down. The second, pressing on to avenge his comrade, was cut through diagonally by Murphy’s sword, falling to the earth without a cry or a groan; while the victor, scarcely glancing at his handiwork, trotted off whistling “The Grinder.” — Chambers’s Journal.

November 10, 1895 p. 30

IRISH FACTION FIGHTS – From the Westminster Review. The Origin of these senseless, brutal, and cruel conflicts is more or less shrouded in obscurity. It is abundantly clear that neither politics nor religion had anything to say in the matter. They probably originated in ‘hurling matches,’ a species of hockey, once a favored amusement among the youth of Munster on Sundays and holidays after “last mass.” These matches were generally played between neighboring parishes or counties, in some large convenient field or on a bit of “commonage.” The matches naturally caused a good deal of rivalry and jealously; disputes, of course, were inevitable, and it was only natural than a hot-blooded Tipperary gorsoon, finding himself getting the worst of an argument with a Limerick logician, should have recourse to the unanswerable and readier argument of the stick. The “hurley,” “common” or crooked stick used in the game was especially adapted for this species of argument; and judiciously applied, as a rule, immediately silenced an opponent. A ponderous “shillelagh” waved aloft, a piercing “whoop,” a dull thud, and a groan were the signals for a general scrimmage. In a twinkling, the whole filed was a seething, yelling mass of ferocious, wild-eyed, skull-cracking demons.

Such contests took tremendously and grew rapidly in popularity. By degrees a petty quarrel become a matter of well neigh national importance, and whole parishes and baronies took it up and vindicated their champion’s honor whenever opportunity permitted and then fates were propitious. Every male, and, indeed, may old ones, too, were members of some faction or another and thus year after year and generation after generation, the feud grew and throve, and not a man knew what on earth he was fighting for. The leading factions in County Limerick were the “Three-Year-Olds,” and the “Four-Year-Olds,” so called because of a petty dispute as to the age of a bull in the remote past. In County Waterford the factions were called the “Shawnavests” and the “Corrawats,” while in Tipperary the “Magpies” and the “Blackhens” were the most notorious. Although, of course, the women were non-combatants, never the less they belonged to one faction or another, and, did an opportunity present itself for wreaking vengeance, neither sex nor age afforded the least protection. Chivalry, sad to relate, was conspicuous by its absence.

March 13, 1924 p. 7

IRISH CENTENARIAN LIVELY – He Jumps a Fence and threatens a Neighbor With a Shillelagh. LONDON, March 12, — The dangerous age in the case of Owen Connelly of Laskey, County Sligo, Ireland, seems to be an even hundred years. Connolly, hale and vigorous centenarian, walked nine miles to the court house recently to answer a charge of having “used threatening language and abused,” one Patrick Brady. He jumped over a fence and threatened me with a blackthorn,” declared Brady. The magistrate dismissed the case.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | as crime, grip, Old Newspaper clippings, other weapon, prowess | , | Leave a comment

Wake poem and artwork 1825

Found by Maxime Chouinard

Drinking, dancing, fighting and carrying on at an Irish wake! Looks to have the rare image of a woman holding a shillelagh…and smoking a pipe.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Faction fight descriptions, grip, Historical descriptions, Period illustration | , , , , | Leave a comment

Political Cartoon Faction Fight 1846

Found by Maxime Chouinard

John Doyle 1846
Listed Personalities (left to right)
Herbert of Lea, Sidney Herbert, Baron, 1810-1861 #5914
Graham, James, Sir 1792-1861 #5740
Aberdeen, George Hamilton Gordon Earl of 1784-1860 #4221
Wellington, Arthur Wellesley Duke of 1769-1852 #696
Peel, Robert Sir 1788-1850 #589
Sheil, Richard Lalor 1791-1851 #5823
O’Connell, Daniel 1775-1847 #574
Russell, John Russell, Earl, 1792-1878 #5597
Palmerston, Henry John Temple 3rd Viscount 1784-1865 #5598
Grey, Charles Grey, Earl, 1764-1845 #5606
Bentinck, George, Lord 1802-1848 #5732
Disraeli, Benjamin Earl of Beaconsfield 1804-1881 #204
Embedded text
I’m for the fellow with the whiskers. – I’ll break a head or two before it’s all over. – Die game, Bob. – We must give in. There’s no standing against such odds

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Faction fight descriptions, grip, Historical descriptions, Old Newspaper clippings, Period illustration, political cartoons | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Family History by John Dickey Braden, 1894

Then comes John Braden, my own father. He was about 17 years old when the family came to America. I have heard him tell many anecdotes of his early life in Ireland. His father as I have said lived at a place called Five-Mile-Town, this was near McGuires Bridge. He would often go up to Enniskillen on fair days to see the celebrated Enniskillen Dragoons, a troop of cavalry 600 in number. They were made up of the young protestants of the locality and as I recollect were furnished with horses and uniforms by Lord Cole who lived close to Enniskillen. Father said all of the 600 troopers rode black horses and when in full parade made a grand appearance. It was at these musters and parades that he saw the Irish lads in full enjoyment of the national sport of fighting with the shillalah. These were clubs of oak or black thorn generally cut from hedges and were about two feet long. It was a kind of exercise like fencing with swords when two would fight with them; each would grasp the stick firmly in the middle and he would then use it to guard off blows as well as to inflict them. Father would tell of one contest of this kind fought at Enniskillen by a friend of his from Five-Mile-Town and a bully from the city. After a long fight he knocked the bully down and as it happened he fell in the mud, when the friend from Five-Mile-Town sang out, “Ah, my maty, I think I put the County Seal on You.” This got the cheers on his side and the other fellow left the field of battle.

January 24, 2009 Posted by | As sport, Faction fight descriptions, grip | Leave a comment