Connemara Warfare

Irish clans often engaged in raids against their neighbours. These, depending on the seriousness of the engagement, usually consisted of small raiding parties.

For larger set piece battles the preferred means of attacking an enemy was an all-out assault. The adoption of regular formation, shoulder to shoulder, forming a solid front with shields and spears came as military tactics (and the odd defeat) brought change.

Cavalry was not widely used until the arrival of the Normans. Chiefs and clan leaders went into battle on horseback. Each horseman had at least one footman to attend him called a gilla or dalteen armed only with a dart or javelin.

Two kinds of foot-soldiers are often mentioned in Irish military records, the kern and galloglasses. The kern were light-armed soldiers: they wore headpieces, and fought with a skian (a dagger or short sword) and with a javelin.

The Irish, unlike the Scots, generally wore clothes when fighting. Soldiers thought likely to desert were tied together at the ankle to prevent them deserting but allowing them to fight.

The galloglasses are mentioned after the Anglo-Norman invasion. These were  heavy-armed infantry, wearing a coat of mail and an iron helmet, with a long sword by the side, and carrying in the hand a broad, heavy, battle axe.

It was common to use war trumpets in Irish battles. These were used to signal the troops as to what to do in battle but also as means of communications in camps.

The Irish clans also had a clan war chant or cry that they used when charging into battle.  The use of sea power is rarely recorded in Irish military history.

The most famous user of naval military resources was Grace O Malley or Granuaile ( 1530  to 1603) who commanded the Connemara Coastal Defense and Anti Piracy Force in Elizabethan times.