Irish-style shillelaghs are a very popular part of our selection, probably because of their legendary status as a durable, reliable hiking stick or walking cane. To help our customers learn more about this beautiful piece of craftsmanship, we would like to lay out the qualities of a genuine shillelagh, and make sure everyone understands the differences between a piece crafted by the masters on the British Isles and those imitations which can be found anywhere, at any retailer.
Why Irish Blackthorn Is So Popular
The material of choice for hundreds of years at this point, it is clear that the master craftsman who practice this trade prefer blackthorn. It is in very high-demand, and not at all easy to come by in the density and quality required to craft a walking cane, which of course raises its value to the collector. It coarse-grained, and very hard, making it a great material for walking canes. Also, it holds its dark luster very well and id naturally resistant to discoloration, warping and other kinds of wear.
Often Imitated - Never Duplicated
We guarantee all of our shillelaghs and Irish blackthorn walking sticks to be crafted of true, genuine Irish blackthorn. most often, when they are imitation, fake shillelaghs are made of Hawthorne, or some other related thorny bushes and trees, and finished in a dark stain to be passed off as a true shillelagh. Hawthorn is not as consistent of a wood, and not nearly as hard. It is common for hawthorne to also develop irregularities in its grain pattern as it grows, making it less likely to accept an even stain or finish, and more likely to have strong and weak spots in the material, a quality that is unacceptable for a mobility aid since it makes it prone to cracking and splitting under vertical stress (as when a user is leaning on the shaft of a cane).
How to Identify a Genuine Blackthorn Irish Cane
This can be tricky. First, it is not necessary that the craftsmanship or the cultivation of the plant actually occur in Ireland. There are several high-quality master craftsmen in England, mainland Europe and even in the United States (although the woods are generally imported). So in this sense, an "Irish Cane" is truly just a style being acheived, not necessarily the place of origin for the piece being sold.
Identifying the quality and type of wood might be nearly impossible for the untrained eye, but here are four things to look out
for when purchasing a shillelagh:
- There should be marks, either protrusions and lumps from when the thorns were sanded down, or dimples from when the thorns and spines were removed, which will be fairly evenly distributed around the shaft.
- The cane, if crafted properly, should taper to a fine point, although it is often cut with a flat end to make it usable for a rubber ferrule or cane tip.
- Blackthorn is naturally dark, and often stained to an even darker hue, but the bark, if you are able to see any, is often a reddish-brown hue.
- The grain pattern is coarse, with thick grains that are fairly regular and consistent throughout the cane, with the exception of the frequent knots which mark where new branches or thick spines would have grown before the shaft was cut.
The Shillelaghs and Irish Walking Sticks at FashionableCanes.com
We have two basic varieties: the classic
However, these pieces are favorites for both collectors and every-day cane users for their beauty, quality and their whimsical
nature that has been beloved by cane users for centuries.
Even if you dont purchase your cane from us, please be careful where you get your shillelagh from. It is definitely a tough
market, and there are several retailers who would not hesitate to charge full price for an imitation. No matter what you purchase, though, we wish you the best with your new shillelagh!