Tune of the Day: The Sprig of Shillelah
This Irish tune appears to have descended from an English Morris dance tune called “The Black Joke”, which dates from the early 1700s. Shillelagh is a word that has become synonymous with the cudgel favored by Irish faction fighters in the 19th century. The association of the name Shillelagh with a club stems from the quality of wood that could be found in the oak forest at Shillelagh in County Wicklow, from which a superior brand of cudgel could be fashioned. Unfortunately, the stock of oak in Ireland has diminished considerably, so that modern shillelaghs are invariably made of blackthorn, fashioned for the tourist trade in rather short implements, while the original oak shillelagh was a sturdy three feet long.