200 Year old Pike

17 Sep

Randy Blake

As I was walking through the National Museum of Ireland, I noticed on of the major themes to be weaponry. There were longbows, maceheads, longswords and this pike. This pike caught my eye because it wasn’t from a very historical era like the Vikings or the Medieval Times, but instead was relatively recent from 1798. It is long and has a point at the end like a sword, and includes a sharp, hook part near the handle. This would allow the attacker to either stab with the pike or swing it and kill victims that way.

1798 Pike NMIHA:1938.69.1

This pike is an important part of Irish history because of the role it played in the Irish Rebellion of 1798. This item was used by the Catholic rebels to ensure that none of the prisoners escaped. According to legend, it is said that a child managed to break out of the facility where they were holding the prisoners only to be killed by the pike. A pike was used again on June 20, 1798 when 70 loyalist prisoners marched to the bridge, stripped naked and piked to death.

This pike represents a difficult time in Irish history and it shows the struggle that the people of the Republic of Ireland have gone through to defend what they believe in. It is also unique that a pike was used to kill all of these people instead of a gun. A pike is more personal and painful and it shows how little the killers cared about the people that they were killing.

The other weapons similar to this one in this museum had not been used in hundreds of years, and made this weapon a very abnormal weapon for the time period. The normal pike was used in medieval times by infantries and was typically much longer. This pike was short, but did an equally effective job killing.

References:

Dunne, Tom; Rebellions: Memoir, Memory and 1798. The Lilliput Press, 2004. ISBN 9-781843-510390

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