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

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

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

Period Illustration


January 25, 2009 Posted by | Faction fight descriptions, Period illustration | , , , | Leave a comment


The Cork Examiner, 7 June 1861

KILLARNEY, THURSDAY.—The parties engaged at faction fighting at the above fair, were yesterday brought before the following magistrates at petty sessions :—Messrs. Thomas Gallwey (chairman) ; D. J. Cruise, R.M. ; Daniel C. Coltsman, and Richard Murphy. Owing to the excitement which the friends of the delinquents seemed to manifest, and the interest attached to the hearing of the cases, the courthouse was densely thronged. The names of the parties are Jeremiah Leary, Killarney ; Cornelius Crowley, do. ; Denis Desmond, do. ; Jeremiah Riordan, Darby Gueran, Thomas Russell, Pat Riordan, Daniel Callaghan, Jeremiah Rourke, John Ahern, John Quinlan, and Pat Callaghan. There were several others called, but did not appear. 
   The Sub-Inspector of the Castleisland station occupied a seat on the bench during the day. From his evidence it seems that, late in the evening, several parties struck with sticks, but he did not attempt to make any arrests ; to do so would be very imprudent, as the parties engaged in the fight were much stronger than the police. Crowley, it was stated, seized the sub-inspector’s horse, and threatened to strike the sub-inspector with a stick. It also appeared that the immemorial usage at faction fights was not forgotten—of calling out £5 for the head of any of the opposite party. This was called out by the Callaghans, who immediately attacked an unoffending man named Quinlan, who admitted that that was his name. The parties, whose names I give below, were sent for trial before the chairman of the county, Mr. Coppinger, at the ensuing quarter sessions :—Cornelius Crowley, Jeremiah Leary, Denis Desmond, John [sic] Riordan, Darby Gueran (not amenable), Thomas Russell, Daniel Callaghan, Pat Quinlan [sic], John Ahern, Jeremiah Rourke, John Quinlan, James [sic] Callaghan, and Jeremiah O’Sullivan [sic]. 
   The magistrates admitted the prisoners to bail —themselves in £40, and two sureties in £20 each. 
   Michael Nagle, Eugene Barton, Michael Hogan, Timothy Collins, Jeremiah Kelleher, Robert Giles alias Dunleary, Edward Spring, Pat. Moriarty, Margaret Leary and William (alias Doctor) Hayes, were fined each £2 and costs, at the suit of Constable Couming, for having sold spirits, &c., after legal hours, at the fair of Molahiffe. John Breen, of Killarney, was also summoned for the same offence, but it having been proved that he left the fair at six o’clock in the evening, it was dismissed. In this case it was admitted by Breen, that he sold a barrel of porter to another publican (the only quantity of drink he had unsold at the fair) before he left. For doing so, his case is to be reported to the Excise by Head-Constable Burchell of this town, as the porter was sold wholesale by a dealer.

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