I am reading more about the 'Kanturk Massacre' in old newspapers, and one of the points brought up on a few occasions during the coroner's inquest is that a pike was found with the victims, and the police proffer this as evidence of the victim's ill-intent. For example:enter image description here According to Wikipedia, pikes are used in 'boating, construction, logging, rescue and recovery, power line maintenance, and firefighting.' The time period I am wondering about is around 1833, and the community is a rural farming community. Is a pike a common implement on Irish farms of the era, or would this be a pike specialized for war?

To help me answer this question, I looked up when pikes stopped being used in war, and according to Wikipedia, 1700 is typically given for the date, with the latest date for their use in war (given in Wikipedia) as 1721. So, I imagine it was not a pike made specifically for war, as these would be century-old antiques by now. Also, in attempt to answer this question, I wondered about the availability of better weapons, and I found this thesis. In the abstract, it says there was a 'diffusion of state owned firearms into private ownership in the 1770s and 1780s', so it would appear firearms were generally available if not out of the reach of impoverished farmers. Also, I find that pikes were used in Irish rebellions in 1803, 1848, and 1867.. In that same link, it gives an 1871 poem glorifying the pike as a weapon. So, I am not asking if pikes were used as weapons, they very clearly were during this time.

My question is, is there any non-violent reason for carrying a pike around after 10 p.m. in a sparsely populated, rural farming district in Ireland in 1833?

When I try to Google anything having to do with 'pike' and 'farming', I get articles talking about farming pike fish. Thanks.

So, I read on, and it would appear the pike came from a woman's house, so it did have a legitimate use, so the question should be, what legitimate uses were there for a pike in Ireland 1833?

  • 4
    What about "boating, construction, rescue, power line maintenance and forestry"? Why doesn't your citation from Wikipedia answer the question?
    – MCW
    Aug 14, 2022 at 23:50

1 Answer 1

  • A pike is a weapon.
  • A pike pole is a tool.
  • A number of weapons exist which are pike-pole-like (called polearms).

If you look at the pictures, you will see how slim the differences can be. A bit like the difference -- or lack of a difference -- between a machete and a falchion.

  • 1
    Also, a pike is a specie of fish.
    – Bartors
    Aug 15, 2022 at 7:44
  • @Bartors - 'specie' and 'species' are two very different things. Specie is not the singular of species.
    – Jon Custer
    Aug 15, 2022 at 18:49
  • @JonCuster you are 99,9% right: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/specie#h2
    – Bartors
    Aug 16, 2022 at 7:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.