Straight blackthorn stems have traditionally been made into walking sticks or clubs (known in Ireland as a shillelagh).
In the British Army, blackthorn sticks are carried by commissioned officers of the Royal Irish Regiment; the tradition also occurs in Irish regiments in some Commonwealth countries.
The blackthorn, or Prunus Spinosa, is a shrubby bush with vicious thorns and a suckering habit, so that it forms dense hedges through which livestock cannot escape. It grows particularly well in Ireland and England, where blackthorn sticks cut from hedges have been popular for many centuries.
A close relative of the blackthorn stick is the blackthorn shillelagh, which is about 16 inches long and generally has a large, heavier head than a walking stick. By popular tradition, Irish giants carry shillelaghs. Every Irish pub is said to have one of these behind the bar, to help keep order if required.
The stick has be grown upside down, usually in a hedgerow or on a coppices blackthorn shrub. There is a great art to shaping the handle so that it is comfortable to the hand. The handle part is prone to splitting, so it is common to see small splits that have been filled with wood filler. This is unavoidable sometimes and doesn't warrant loosing an otherwise perfect stick and we believe it adds some character. The handle and shaft are varnished and a hardwearing metal ferrule added to the tip.
Blackthorn Derby Walking Stick
There are two variants of the blackthorn with derby handle: the country derby and the reduced and polished derby. The country version has its bark on and has a pleasing rustic appearance. The reduced and polished version has had its bark removed, an elegant taper applied to the shaft, and a high quality polish and varnish to bring out the beauty of its colouring.he contorted grain and thorn pattern of the blackthorn wood results in a very unusual and eye-catching stick. The derby handle itself will be made from another type of wood, often beech or maple.
A blackthorn thumbstick or more than 120 cm (or four feet) in height is a special stick because blackthorn is a shrubby bush and it is difficult to find straight sections of blackthorn as long as this. A natural 'V' in the wood makes it comfortable to old the stick with either the user's thumb or forearm resting in the 'V'.
Blackthorn Antler and Ram's Horn Sticks
The beauty of blackthorn makes it an obvious choice on which to mount beautiful stag antler and ramshorn handles, producing a fantastic contrast in colours. It is a skilled craft to prepare and dress the horn and to ensure the wood meets in a neat and smooth join. Top quality blackthorn horn sticks command high prices and demand always exceeds supply.
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