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Great Gifts for Christmas 2018: Traditional Irish Shillelagh

Monday, 2 October 2017

Does this sound familiar? You've been scratching your head trying to think of what to get for that one person who is impossible to shop for, and once again you find yourself to be even more clueless than the year before. You know the type: they're the ones whose birthdays we dread and who make Christmas a stressful time of the year. We all know at least one.

You promise yourself each year that this time around, things will be different. And guess what? This year, we're making sure things really will be different. A Shillelagh is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who appreciates a great walking stick or knows how to enjoy a classic piece of history.

Why a Shillelagh?

The idea of getting someone a shillelagh might seem a bit out there, but you need to start thinking outside of the box. The perfect gifts are rarely practical, but they do usually carry a deeper meaning and come with an interesting backstory, which is what makes this traditional Irish stick the ideal Christmas present for people who seem to have everything.

A Symbol of Irishness

"Oh! an Irishman’s heart is as stout as shillelagh, It beats with delight to chase sorrow and woe; When the piper plays up, then it dances gaily, And thumps with a whack to leather a foe."

Originally known as bata, meaning a fighting stick in Gaelic, the shillelagh was once used for settling disputes. It was carried by Irishmen wherever they went and was especially common in bataireacht, the various forms of stick fighting from Ireland. Today, the shillelagh is recognised as a symbol of Irishness, particularly popularised in the Irish-American context, and used mainly for ceremonial purposes.

Did You Know?

  • Though commonly believed shillelaghs are blackthorn sticks, they have also been made from oak, ash or holly.
  • 'Loaded stick' means the hallowed end of the stick has been filled with molten lead to increase its weight.
  • With blackthorn shillelaghs, the handle is actually the root, quite heavy on its own, and as such doesn't require 'loading'.
  • The heavy knob handle has been used for striking, parrying or disarming the opponent.
  • Shillelaghs have traditionally been kept behind the bar in Irish pubs.
  • The bark is intentionally left on the stick to give an impression of extra toughness.
  • Shillelaghs are often mentioned in popular culture, such as in the ballad 'Finnegan's Wake', the folk song 'Arthur McBride' by Bob Dylan and the 19th century song 'Rocky Road to Dublin'.

Original Blackthorn Irish Shillelagh

Though perfectly common and readily available at one point, traditional blackthorn shillelaghs are nowadays slightly more difficult to come by. What you often find instead are lesser imitations made from hawthorne or similar woods, which could never compare to the quality of the original.

Blackthorn Irish Shillelagh

But fear not - our Blackthorn Irish Shillelagh is the real deal, made from genuine blackthorn wood, naturally shaped and featuring a classic knobstick handle. Tough, resilient and highly resistant to chipping and warping, this original shillelagh will last for a lifetime.