Irish stick fighting documentary
This is a new documentary to be screened on TG4, an Irish TV channel:
Na Chéad Fight Clubs (new documentary)
Gangs of New York meets The Field best describes the mood of this stunning 1- hour documentary. In the first half of the 19th century there was more violence in rural Munster than could be found on the streets of New York at the time. In Tipperary and Waterford organized gangs or factions such as the Caravats and the Shanavests or the Black Hens and the Magpies fought highly ritualized pitched battles on fair days. Wearing insignia and led by their 'captains' gangs of several hundred young males lined up and faced each other, all carrying the deadly weapon- the blackthorn stick. Death and injury was commonplace during these brutal feuds.
Produced by Nemeton TV and director Geraldine Heffernan, Na Chéad Fight Clubs explores the many facets of this brutal and forgotten practice. Why has this aspect of our social history not been handed down by our grandfathers as others have? Why did hundreds of young men go out and dash each other’s skulls on fair day, filling their sticks with molten lead to make them more deadly weapons? What did they fight about? Why did the authorities not intervene for many years? The somewhat unsettling truth about our ancestors and the rampant savagery amongst the rural Irish is revealed in this fascinating film as well as the existence of the forgotten and noble Irish martial art of troid le maidí or stick fighting.
Shot on the Red by Director of Photographer Cathal Watters the film features stunning reconstructions of fights, choreographed by martial arts expert John McGrath, who in an interesting twist to the story of faction fighting, has re-introduced this ancient art to the country by teaching it in his Waterford gym.
TG4 Tuesday 28 December 21.15