Saturday 27 May 2017

Hard-hitting documentary lifts lid on our fight-club shame

Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

IN THE hands of young Munstermen of the 19th century, a blackthorn stick was a lethal weapon, often hollowed out and filled with molten lead in advance of vicious faction fighting between armies of rural gangs.

Now a fascinating new documentary tells the story of the first Irish fight clubs. Na Chéad Fight Clubs, which will be screened on TG4 on Tuesday, December 28, is a dark, hard-hitting documentary about a forgotten and shameful episode in Irish history.

The phenomenon of faction fighting involved huge groups of young men in rural Munster in the first half of the 19th century.

Savage brutal fights about land and other feuds involved hundreds of young men skilled at stick fighting, and usually resulted in fatalities.

Another documentary on RTE 1 -- also on December 28 at 10.45pm -- tells the story of the song that has galvanised and inspired Ireland's sporting greats, from boxer Bernard Dunne to the men of Munster on their way to the Heineken Cup glory.

The Fields of Athenry, originally written in 1979, by Pete St John, is a tale of the Great Irish Famine.

Sunday Independent

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