Irish Medieval Swords

One of the more unique styles of medieval swords are the examples identified as Irish. These intriguing pieces and take a couple different forms. The ones we will look at today are defined by iconic ring pommels and spatulated guard arms. These are some of my favorite medieval swords.
In the example shown in the video below, I have incorporated details from a couple of original swords and the few depictions of these style of weapon seen in art. The pieces that I mention seeing in the video are in the National Museum of Archeology in Dublin where they are part of an exceptional collection of artifacts.
The pieces range from small single handed swords to larger longsword varieties but they all share a certain form and character of construction that highlights how light and quick these weapons would have been in hand.
Sword display in Archeology Museum Dublin
Swords in Dublin


The most striking thing when I first saw these swords was the size of the pieces. they were much lighter construction than I expected and had an almost delicate quality to the detail. The tangs were quite thin and the rings far thinner in both thickness and width then is often done on replicas.

The single handed piece pictured below was especially interesting as the elements of the hilt were beautifully formed but done with far less material than pieces designed today. These were very obviously crafted to be fast and deadly weapons one could carry with little effort.

 Sungle handed Irish Sword

Hilt of single handed sword

 Taking these elements from the originals and combining them into this version of an Irish sword worked quite well and the sword came out at just over two and half pounds. It is exceptionally agile and fast. The length of the blade is a bit shorter than many longsword replicas made today but fits in the middle of the size range of historical pieces.

Irish Bastard Sword hilt
Recently completed Irish style medieval Sword
Even with the weight reductions and focus on lightness this piece would probably be considered a bit bulky by the owners of the originals pictured above. So please check out this interesting sword in the video below and let us know what you think.

divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985

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