IMA Source Catalog

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

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

“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

“Autobiography of an Irish traveller ” 1835

Summited by Chris Amendola

” Oh !’ said he, ‘ I have my scouts and my spies every where, who give me immediate warning. I can go in two hours, across the country, to places which they would be as many days in reaching; so ignorant are they of the bye-roads, and places we frequent. Besides,’ added he, ‘ one of our stout-hearted fellows is worth a dozen of your trained soldiers, who only fight by rule; we, squire, fight with a stick better than they with a sword. There,’ he continued, pointing to a stout, well-built young fellow, about twenty-five years of age,—’ if there be a man in Ireland who can beat down his cudgel with a cutlass, then I’1l give my head for a foot-ball.’
” Being a skilful swordsman myself, and always very cool and deliberate in my play, I answered, that if they had a good strong broad-sword, I would play a match after breakfast, for the sake of amusement.
“‘ With all my heart,’ said the young man, ‘ we are near of an age and of a size;’ and when the breakfast was finished, a cudgel and broadsword were produced.
” ‘ Comrade,’ said I, ‘ before we begin, remember we are not to strike each other ! I shall either cut your cudgel out of your hand, or you will beat down my guard; and whoever does this three times in succession is the conqueror.’
” At it we went accordingly, and, in truth, I never saw a cudgel played in such style before. He kept on the defensive, and parried all my cuts for fifteen minutes, without having his guard broke in upon. After this, changing his method, he began upon the offensive; and, in the course of ten minutes more, my sword had been three times nearly struck from my grasp. I now threw it down, and gave him my hand, satisfied of his unrivalled dexterity; for, when at Berlin, I was considered the best broad-swordsman in the college. The lads were all pleased with our trial of skill, and not less so with the good humour I exhibited on being defeated. I am convinced no swordsman could have resisted my antagonist. His cudgel moved like lightning; the inner part, from his hand to his elbow, covering his body in a half circle, or otherwise, according to the blows aimed at him.”

December 15, 2009 Posted by | As sport, Historical descriptions, 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

Giraldus Cambrensis

From Louie again:

Giraldus Cambrensis who was in Ireland in the late 12 century 
speaking of the weapons of the Irish, he says, ” they use pikes, 
javelins, and great battleaxes, exceedingly well tempered;” and, 
that ” they wield the axe with one arm, their thumb extending along 
the shafts, and guiding the stroke, from whose violence neither 
helmet, nor coat of iron mail, arc sufficient protection; whence it 
has happened in our days, that a single stroke has severed a heavy-
armed horseman in two, thorough his massy covering of iron armour, 
one side falling one way, and the other a contrary way.” 
How powerful must the arm be, and how well tempered the weapon., to 
achieve what is here related by an eye-witness and an enemy! ” These 
hatchets’ he says, ” they always carry in their hand, as walking-
staffs, ready instruments of death, not requiring to be unsheathed 
like a sword, or bent like a bow ; without further preparation than 
raising the arm, it inflicts a deadly wound.”

An impartial history of Ireland, from the period of the English 
invasion to the present time: By Dennis Taaffe 1811


February 22, 2009 Posted by | 12th century, Historical descriptions, Period illustration, prowess | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment