On town streets or in green fields, at fairs, race meetings and
saints' patron days, rival gangs of Irishmen used to meet to battle and beat
each other with cudgels and sticks. The practice was particularly prevalent in the 1800s, and involved
tens, hundreds and even thousands of men and women at a time.
Days of the Blackthorn uses eyewitness descriptions, as well as the
oral history of local communities, to provide a visceral sense of this exciting
and brutal activity in County Kerry. From the Battle of Ballyeagh between the
Cooleens and the Lawlors that left eighteen dead, to the savage combats of
various strongmen, such as Seon Burns or 'Big Mick' Foley, this is a
fascinating account of a wild and violent time in Ireland's history.