What is a Shillelagh, Rungu or Iwisa?

Did you know the Celtic Shillelagh is essentially the same tool as the Maasai Rungu and the Zulu Iwisa? They’re all traditionally made from nature in the same way, for the same purpose.

It’s a baseball bat sized cudgel, traditionally made from a single natural root ball stick for maximum strength. In Ireland, this was mainly Blackthorn for its high density & toughness and its popularity in hedgerows (due to big thorns and sloe berries). Or Hazel as a cheap & cheerful alternative, thanks to its super straight shaft, bulbous rootstock and wide availability due to coppicing.

Not like the Frankenstein sticks commonly made today – a ball stuck on the end of a separate stick – that will break off too easy.

Shillelaghs are tactically great for balancing blunt instruments with sharp weapons, and for balancing long range tools with medium range tools that double as throwers. The Africans and the Irish both favoured holding a spear in one hand and a shillelagh in the other, for maximum options during hunting or fighting including the ability to show mercy without losing the edge.