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Thom R.

Location: Tucson
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Reading list: 30 books

Posts: 630

PostPosted: Wed 17 Mar, 2010 3:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After further review of my files, and the acquisition of new research material, I do completely surrender. In fact this week I finally got hold of a copy of The Journal of the Arms and Armour Society Vol II No I, March 1956 which is dedicated to Irish Arms and Armour and features an article by Hayes-McCoy. This is a particulalry difficult little journal to find. The article for the most part is similar to the booklet written by Hayes-McCoy and published by the National Museum, - features and discusses the same swords - but the text does differ a bit from the booklet. Its also nice because the journal has photos of the swords (B/W), whereas the booklet has sketches.

Two passages of note

First, because the open ring pommel swords are almost always associated with gaelic styled scabbards (broad, boxy and fringed) in all of the artwork:

the scabbards of the swords (ring hilted) suggest the widespread use among the Gaelic Irish as distinct from the Anglo Irish or English in Ireland.........

What he is saying is that some of the artwork (DeHeere in particular which may be a copy of the Oxford print) is a bit dubious nevertheless the stonework and other pieces and parts (margins of books, margins of certain maps) all suggest a gaelic association for ring hilts.

As for the cross pommee mark of the sword found near Ballylin Offaly, he says this:

The cross pommee mark may be Italian, or perhaps more likely a German mark made in imitation of an Italian one.

So I am afraid we are no closer to answering the original question on blade origin. I did find a rather obscure reference in Elizabethan journals involving Sir Norris and Sir Drake about the rationale for focusing first on military subjugation of Ulster and the outlying Islands like Rathlin - because ostensibly this was "to cut off the flow of arms into Ireland by way of Scotland." Since many 16th c Scottish blades are thought to have been imported from Germany, this might point to a German origin for many of the 16th c Irish sword blades as well. tr
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Thom R.

Location: Tucson
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Reading list: 30 books

Posts: 630

PostPosted: Wed 12 Jan, 2011 9:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Recently the past six months I have been conducting more research on the O'Malleys in the Tudor period, not just Graine but her father and uncles and other family members as well. They were all seafarers and traders. The O'Flaherty's and O'Brien's too. But the one thing that leaps out again and again is that they primarily sailed back and forth from Limerick, Galway, and Westport to northern Spain. Spain, and Basque France, were their main source of supply, and the primary trade goods they were bringing back to Ireland were wine, cloth, iron, and weapons. I have actually been surprised at the lack of any references to them sailing to Bordeaux or elsewhere in France. I also was unaware of the Spanish/Irish fishing industry connection in the 1500s. There was a substantial Spanish fishing fleet which often fished off the west coast of Ireland and there are references to the Irish traders meeting their Spanish counterparts at sea, providing fresh water and food and supplies to the Spanish ships in trade for the above mentioned goods thereby enabling the Spanish boats to stay at sea and fish longer before turning back for Spain. Just wanted to say that maybe this is yet another piece of evidence that points to Spanish/Italian for the source of these 16th century Irish blades....... tr

ps here is a quick brief on the fishing of western Irish waters in the 1500s
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