For over 50 years, two of Kentucky’s high school football powerhouses, the Tigers of St. Xavier and the Shamrocks of Trinity, have competed for “the shillelagh,” an Irish war club and symbol of great pride… the AJ Ryan Division is proud to have donated this worthy trophy and looks forward to presenting it to the victor each Fall. Each year a medallion with the game’s score is added: The medallion is Gold if the Tigers win, Silver if the Shamrocks are the victors.
The game is one of the best-attended high school games in the country. GOOD LUCK TO BOTH TEAMS!
Used as hunting weapons, shillelaghs were essential life support to the Irish peasants of the middle ages. Every lad searched the hedges diligently for the prime stick which would be his companion for life and when at last he spotted the perfect specimen – he would claim it with the traditional shout, “BE JASUS AND IT’S MINE!”
He would nurture and protect it henceforth until it matured. When it was ready he would choose a winter’s day when the sap was down and joyously claim his prize!… he would then bear it home with pride and triumph and spend every spare moment until Spring by the peat fire lovingly smoothing the knots and rounding the head. If part of the shaft had grown too crooked, he would gently soak it and hang it from the cottage rafters weighted with sand until it was shaped right.
From the day the shillelagh was completed until his death, it never left his side… even then it would be placed by his side in his coffin!
So then… as you look upon this most honorable symbol of Irish heritage… reflect on its history and understand that it has been won in a clean, hard-fought contest.