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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

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Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 8:46 pm    Post subject: Open Ring Irish Swords         Reply with quote

Hi All…

Up until last year, I had only seen one picture of a particular hand and a half version of the Irish open ring sword. It was one of the most graceful swords I had ever seen. Then early last year I found a couple of really blurry museum photos of the pommel of this sword on the internet. In a post here at myArmoury, I requested more info and Thomas McDonald sent me a scan of Tony Willis article “A Two Handed Gaelic Irish Sword of the Sixteenth Century” published in 15th Park Lane Arms Fair Catalog. (Thanks Mac!). At the time the article was published, this beautiful sword was hidden away in a private collection. However, at some point it has found its way into a display case at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

Here are the stats:

Overall Length: 49 inches (125cm)
Blade Length: 38 inches (97cm)
Blade Width: 1.5 inches (40mm)
Diameter of Pommel: 2.5 inches (675mm)
Cross Length: 11 inches (29cm)

Here is a photo mosaic of images I have collected of this particular sword. Some of the more complete photos were posted by Jay Barron (I think).

(Note the channel on the outer perimeter and the way the inside of the ring looks rounded.)

ks



 Attachment: 94.33 KB
MA.1.IrishRingMuseumMosaic.jpg
Photos of display at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 8:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In his article on this sword, Tony Willis expresses the opinion that the open ring pommel developed from wheel pommels with concave faces. A while back Mac posted some of Vince Evans pictures of a Scottish sword with just such a pommel. If I remember right it was hollow inside… In essence they were hollow open rings with thin metal plates over each face. To produce the open ring hilt all one would need to do is leave off the thin metal face plates.

ks



 Attachment: 54.32 KB
MA.2.SCOT.L105bl88cog229wt823g15th.Ve.jpg
Overall Length 105cm, Blade Length 88cm, Cog 22.9cm, Weight 823grams. 15th century Scottish. Photo by Vince Evans

 Attachment: 87.92 KB
MA.3.RiverBannIrelandBM.RMS.jpg
From River Bann in Ireland. Photo from "Records of the Medieval Sword"

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 8:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Willis believe the blade was made on continent, but engravings were cut in Ireland. The blade has engravings on both sides of the forte of the blade. One side is a Celtic Cross and the other side is a standing robed figure holding two rods in the air. Who might this robed figure represent? Based upon the juxtaposition of Celtic Crosses and carvings of the Resurrected Christ on sculptures at Durrow, CoOffaly and Muiredach’s Cross at Monasterboice, Co Louth, Willis suggests that the figure opposite the Celtic Cross may be Christ. The idea is that one side recalls Christ’s crucifixion on the cross and the other side shows Christ in his resurrected glory as an appropriate counterpoint to the cross. Other possibilities for the robed figure would be St Patrick or some other saint. The images I have of these faint engravings below the thick patina are quite poor. However if you use your imagination you may be able to see them… At least I think I can see them.

ks



 Attachment: 59.87 KB
MA.4.IrishRingEngravings.jpg
From Tony Willis "“A Two Handed Gaelic Irish Sword of the Sixteenth Century” published in 15th Park Lane Arms Fair Catalog.

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In his article Tony Willis says there are only about a dozen or so such open ring swords known to historians, most of these being single-handed versions. (Its rarity may be why Oakeshott does not give the ring pommels a type designation.)

Here are a few archeological drawings I found in “Irish Medieval Swords c.1170-1600" by Andrew Halpin, 1986.

ks



 Attachment: 60.45 KB
MA.5.IRISH.L98w32TullyloughIreIMS.jpg
Overall Length 98cm, Blade Width 3.2cm, found in Tullylough Ireland

 Attachment: 66.32 KB
MA.6.IRISH.w28SuckR.BallinasloeIreIMS.jpg
Blade Width 2.8cm, found in River Suck, Ballinasloe Ireland

 Attachment: 76.25 KB
MA.7.IRISH.w31BannR.TommeIreIMS.jpg
Blade Width 3.1cm, found in River Bann Tonne Ireland

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And a couple more...

(Note that the Portglenone sword also has a groove around the outer perimeter)

ks



 Attachment: 69 KB
MA.8.IRISH.w35CorribRSpanishArchIreIMS.jpg
Blade Width 3.5cm, found in River Corrib, Spanish Arch Ireland

 Attachment: 96.89 KB
MA.9.IRISH.w36BannRPortglenoneIreIMS.jpg
Blade Width 3.6cm, found in River Bann, Portglenone Ireland

Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And now for something completely different...

Well maybe not completely Big Grin

Though I have never cared much for fantasy swords, I really liked the Andruil sword from Lord of the Rings movies. In the summer of 2004 on the way to the Atlanta blade show, I stopped in at the Museum Replicas Limited showroom and in the clearance bin I found an MRL Irish hand and a half sword… for $70! I decided to try to satisfy two urges at one time. I would redo the Irish Ring sword (I wanted) to look like LOTR Andruil (which I admired).

Here is a picture of the original sword, the MRL replica as bought and what it looked like when I was finished with it:

ks



 Attachment: 85.18 KB
MA.10.IrishOpenRingCompare.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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Reading list: 42 books

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PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk,

Those are very nice alterations. I think it greatly improves the look of the sword. Can we get a close-up of the hilt and the mark on the blade?

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is what the components looked like before I put the leather covering on the lower grip and reassembled the hilt.

If you would like more information on how the hilt was redesigned and see more progress pictures click here:
Home Improvement Forum at SFI

ks



 Attachment: 61.17 KB
MA.11.PtsHiltOblTip.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities


Last edited by Kirk Lee Spencer on Sun 27 Nov, 2005 9:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After many months of redoing and redoing my redos… this is how it finished up.


 Attachment: 59.88 KB
MA.12.HiltOblRiver.jpg


 Attachment: 55.21 KB
MA.13.HiltOblRiver.jpg


 Attachment: 94.93 KB
MA.14.HiltOblTip.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
View user's profile Send private message
Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a close up of the Grip, then a picture of the sword in hand and finally a shot of the engraved Celtic Cross on the forte.


 Attachment: 94 KB
MA.15.Grip.jpg


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MA.16.SwordInHand.jpg


 Attachment: 90.23 KB
MA.17.CelticCross.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks great Kirk. I'm always impressed by the aesthetic value of your projects.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Kirk Lee Spencer




Location: Texas
Joined: 24 Oct 2003

Spotlight topics: 6
Posts: 820

PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The leaves were so colorful I just had to get a few shots against my Japanese maples.

Take care...

ks



 Attachment: 71.07 KB
MA.18.HiltOblTipLeaves....jpg


 Attachment: 51.39 KB
MA.19.PomLeaves.jpg


Two swords
Lit in Eden’s flame
One of iron and one of ink
To place within a bloody hand
One of God or one of man
Our souls to one of
Two eternities
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really nice Kirk, very impressive work. Oh, and the photographs are very nice also, would make great desktop background.
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 26 Nov, 2005 9:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kirk, that is fantastic work! I really, really like what you've done with this sword, especially because the regular version has never appealed to me at all. Great work!
Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Henrik Bjoern Boegh




Location: Aust Agder, Norway
Joined: 03 Mar 2004

Posts: 386

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2005 2:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Kirk,

That looks great! Thanks for posting the pictures of both the historical ones, and that nice project of yours.
I really like the colours you've used on the leather; the contrast between that green and reddish-brown is awsome.
Have you made the engraving your self or was that something made by windlass???

Here's a link to Nathan Bell's Irish Arms Irish ring hilted sword: http://www.myArmoury.com/nateb_swor_ia_ring.html?5

By the way, how's it going with your basket hilted cutlass project?

Cheers,
Henrik

Constant and true.
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Patrik Erik Lars Lindblom




Location: Göteborg Sweden
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PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2005 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Surprised You have really take a big step forward in your works Kirk! Cool Happy
Was there any changes on COP on the blade after you have work on it ?

Frid o Fröjd!
Patrik
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2005 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Beautiful work, Kirk, as always!
Henrik Bjoern Boegh wrote:
...Have you made the engraving your self or was that something made by windlass???...
There is no way that Windlass/MRL did that celtic cross engraving. Kirk must have done that himself.
"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
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Wolfgang Armbruster





Joined: 03 Apr 2005

Posts: 322

PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2005 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That sword looks really amazing!
I especially like this s-curved cross-guard. Haven't seen this type on any other sword.
I wonder how these ring-hilted swords handle due to the lighter pommel.
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Henrik Bjoern Boegh




Location: Aust Agder, Norway
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PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2005 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I checked the SFI post that Kirk did, and read how he made the engraving... Very nice cross indeed.
Stupid of me to even consider it was engraved by Windlass :-P

The post on SFI is very informative and shows a lot of in progress photos. I recommend you all take a look at it!

Cheers,
Henrik

Constant and true.
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Boris Bedrosov
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Location: Bourgas, Bulgaria
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PostPosted: Sun 27 Nov, 2005 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, Kirk!

Very impressive work! Congratulations Laughing Out Loud Laughing Out Loud Laughing Out Loud
I have only one question - what is the behavior of this long and (maybe) heavy sword with relatively light pommel?

Regards!
Boris
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