Miscellany: The Shillelagh
This St. Patrick's Day, I looked up the history of a quintessentially Irish weapon - the shillelagh. It's a straight knotty stick traditionally made from Irish blackthorn; in most incarnations, the thorns are stipped off, the bark is left on, and the root of the blackthorn is sanded down into a smooth round knob that can be used to rest your hand on...or to hit people with.
The term "shillelagh" is itself is a corruption of two Gaelic words, sail (mallet) and éille (strap). While accounts vary, this probably came from the fact that most shillelaghs have a wrist strap for use as a walking stick...and as a way to facilitate striking:
Irish stickfighting isn't as common as other European stickfighting methods (think canne de combat), but thankfully, there are still folks out there teaching and practicing this martial art:
Happy St. Patrick's Day!