Thursday, 1 March 2018


Continuing with the Gaelic theme up next are some Scots "Redshanks" to serve as mercenaries in my Irish Army. They are a mix of Claymore Castings figures, now sold by Antediluvian Miniatures, and some converted Old Glory figures from their English Civil War range. Initially this unit was intended to simply be a mercenary force to add to my Irish army but the megalomaniac in me realised that by combining them with the Galloglass I have already painted and some more suitable Kern figures I could quite easily have a sizeable Highland Scots contingent. Add this Highland contingent to these chaps, of course swapping the banners, and I'm not far off a respectable Scots army for 1513. Definitley something I will be thinking about in the future. 

So the aim with these figures was to create a unit that could serve both as Redshank mercenaries in Ireland and also as a Highland contingent sent to fight in the Anglo-Scots wars of the 16th Century. If I had just been aiming to use them as Redshanks I wouldn't have bothered with the standard bearer and more formal command base. As with the Irish infantry and cavalry I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some of the depicitions of Highlanders that we have from the 1500s. What I find fascinating is that they are very different from the kilted characters you may imagine from Braveheart! Also of note is how much they have in common with the Irish infantry, the Galloglass and Kern, discussed in a previous post.

Effigy of a Highland Warrior from the Mid 16th Century, Finlaggan

Tomb of Alexander MacLeod, 1528. The tomb was prepared in the late 1520s although he actually died in the 1540s. Macleod is on the left in a Mail Shirt with a Cotun underneath. He looks strikingly similar to a Galloglass.

The Redshanks serving in Ireland were known as such because of their habit of going barefooted. Although this etymology has been debated Holinshed in his Chronicles of 1577, a picture from which is shown below, stated "For in the north part of the region, where the wild Scots, otherwise called the Redshanks, or rough footed Scots (because they go the wild Scots bare footed and clad in mantels over their saffron shirts after the Irish maner) doo inhabit". Similarly John Elder a highland priest and scholar called himself a Redshank for the same reason. Holinsheds quote and the image that accompanies his text make clear how similar to the Gaelic Irish the Highlanders and Scots of the Western Isles may have looked.

A common source for the attire of the Gaelic Scots, well the more aristocratic ones at least, are Tomb Effigies. From the two shown above it can clearly be seen that the more wealthy Highlanders and men of the Western Isles looked very similar to Irish Galloglass, with mail shirts and long cotuns. This is not surprising seeing as they shared a similar culture and the Redshanks or "New Scots" as they were sometimes known were simply a new wave of mercenaries arriving in Ireland from a similar area to the Galloglass. What is perhaps surprising is that the two images of tomb effigies shown above date from well into the 16th Century. It seems that these warriors preserved a very unique style of armament very different from much of Western Europe.

Image of Scots Highlanders from Holinsheds Chronicle of Scotland, 1577. Note how similar to Irish Kern they look with the characteristic baggy sleeves and short jackets or "Ionars".

While the Galloglass families began migrating to Ireland in the later 13th Century the Redshanks became a common feature in Gaelic Irish armies from the mid 16th Century onwards. That is not say that they did not feature in Irish warfare prior to this. By the end of the 14th Century MacDonalds had already begun to settle in Northern Ireland, in Antrim, and their men were hired by the O'Donnells in the 15th Century. By the 16th Century Clan MacDonald were fielding armies in their own right, clashing with Shane O'Neill at Glentaisie in 1565. It was Shane's wars that seem to have led to something of an influx of Gaelic Scots mercenaries. They could arrive, by galley, from the Western Isles and Seaboard constituting something of a seasonal force for Irish Chieftans to hire. 

That they were effective soldiers is demonstrated by the willingness of the Irish Chieftans to hire them and also by the serious threat they posed to the Elizabethan Goverment in Ireland. The English termed them "New Scots", the old Scots, it seems, would have been the Antrim MacDonalds and even older Galloglass families. The Elizabethan Government was keen to stop them migrating into Ireland and joining the various wars, feuds and rebellions that took place in the second half of the 16th Century. They attempted, sometimes successfully, to stop their galleys with their own warships, against which the galleys could do little harm. Even at the very end of Elizabeth's reign, while the succession was a major issue, James Fullerton of Trinity College Dublin was acting as a secret agent for the English and liaising with James VI in order to prevent these warriors of the Western Isles and Seaboard travelling to Ireland to fight in Tyrone's Rebellion.

As demonstrated by the images shown here they seem to have been armed with bows, axes and two handed claymores. Previously mentioned in my description of the Galloglass it is interesting that there don't seem to be any images of the Claymores worn in a back scabbard. The two images of Redshanks below show the swords tucked under one arm. Ian Heath in his excellent "Armies of the Sixteenth Century" gives references to them also sometimes being armed with arquebuses and sometimes even being hired as pikemen, halberdiers and shot, especially those Highland Scots who had already seen service in mainland Europe in the Dutch Revolt. An example Heath gives is a reference to Sir Nicholas Maltby, Lord President of Connaught, who in 1580 pushed 600 Redshanks out of his province. They were described as "180 horsemen, 180 targets (bucklers or perhaps Scots targes), 100 long swords, the rest ...darts, shot and galloglass axes, all as well appointed as ever I saw for their faculty'. Evidently by the end of the 16th century the Redshanks could be quite versatile in terms of their weaponry, it is easy to see why the English Government found them such a problem.

French Image of a Highland "Captain", 1560s.

A Scotsman by Lucas d'Heere, 1570s.

A final point worthy of note and something that always makes me smile is how different from the traditional image of Highlanders the men of the Western Isles and Northern Scotland actually looked in the 16th Century. It does seem some wore plaid as demonstrated by a quote from Jean de Beaugue, a French Officer who served in the French army that helped the Scots fight off Henry VIII's and later Protector Somerset's "Rough Wooing" in the 1540s. Describing some Highlanders at the Siege of Haddington he states "they were naked except their stained shirts and a certain covering made of wool of various colours, carrying large bows and similar swords and bucklers to the others (that is the Lowlanders)". Similarly another Frenchman Nicolay D'Arfeville said of them that "They wear like the Irish a large and full shirt coloured with saffron, and over this a garment hanging to the knee, of thick wool, after the manner of a cassock. They go with bare heads and allow their hair to grow very long and they wear neither stockings nor shoes, except some who have buskins made in a very old fashion which come as high as their knees". This description ties in nicely with the cloak and boots worn in the image of "Le capitaine Savvage"from the 1560s. Note also that this "Captain" has a quite unsual crest on his helmet. Perhaps this is something fanciful on the part of the artist but it does remind me of some of the odd Galloglass crests talked about in a previous post.

Scots Highlanders or "Redshanks". Such men from the Western Isles and Western Seaboard would travel to Ireland in galleys to fight for the Irish Gaelic Chieftans.

I hope this brief look at a few images and descriptions has given some idea of how these men were dressed and armed in the 1500s. When looking for miniatures to represent them we can say mail shirts, bascinets and cotuns would be the armour of the more aristocratic Redshanks while the less well off would have looked very similar, infact in many ways identical, to the Irish Kern and may also have carried targes, again similar to the shields used by the Irish. For weaponry bows, axes, two handed swords, javelins or darts and even arquebus's would all pass muster. I have used the Claymore figures to represent the more well off Gaelic Scots. There have been a few small conversions. I've removed some of the weaponry slung over a few of the figures backs, claymores and large axes, and instead replaced the weapons with targes worn on a strap. I'm just not a fan of the idea of large weapons worn over the shoulder, especially when many better off soldiers in this period, of all societies, had boys or servants to carry their weapons for them. This and the fact they are not all barelegged aside I do think these figures are a great representation of Highlanders for the 14th to 16th Centuries.

The second rank of Scots is made of some Highland archers from Old Glory's English Civil War range. Not perhaps the nicest figures but they are pretty generic Gaelic troops which makes them useful. With the conversions I have done to them they could also pass muster as Kern if required. Originally about half of them were wearing bonnets and they did not have such baggy sleeves. Some butchery with a knife and a bit of green stuff work, shown in more detail below, has soon made them look more the part. While I could have left out these lesser armed archers I like the idea of mixing them in with parts of my Irish army to form a unit of the Highlanders that fought at Flodden under Huntly, Lennox or Argyll. The whole unit is shown under a banner that is based upon one captured at Flodden by William Molyneux and I have a few figures left over that I think I will use to do another of these command bases with. 

Scots Highlanders, the banner is based upon one of the two captured by William Molyneux at Flodden in 1513.

Gaelic Scots or Redshanks. A mix of Claymore Castings, now sold by Antediluvian Miniatures, and Old Glory figures.

The Highlanders from the back. I have added the targes to the figures and given the Old Glory miniatures baggy sleeves using green stuff.

Perhaps not the best work with green stuff but adding to the sleeves, making them more baggy, means these miniatures can also serve as Irish Kern at a pinch.

The Highland Command base. I have a few nice Highland banners and will probably do a couple more command bases to use in an early 16th Century Scots army.

Finally if I am going to use my Galloglass, Kern and Redshanks to game with I am going to need some casualty bases. OK, they aren't the most varied bases seeing as I have only used two old Redoubt Enterprises sculpts! I have tried to ensure there are a few minor variations on each base. They will do the job nicely though. This unit of Redshanks would have been the end of my Gaelic project, for now at least, but then Michael Perry went and sculpted some Irish Galloglass and Kern with chieftans and pipers as well. Very well timed in my opinion! With this being said I will be posting up some more Gaelic additions soon.

Half a dozen Gaelic Casualty Bases. The figures are from the old Redoubt Enterprises Renaissance Range on casualty bases made by Warbases.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Irish Chieftan and Noble Cavalry

Following on from a look at the Kern, Galloglass and Horseboys who formed much of the infantry of Gaelic Irish armies in the 16th century I have turned my attention to the Irish Cavalry. A bit of a labour of love this unit as no manufacturer really makes perfect figures for these chaps at the moment. I have had to make a few compromises with the figures and I have based some of the colours and additions on conjecture but I hope they are fairly close to how they may have looked.

The cavalry arm of the Gaelic Lordships was normally made up of the nobility, in fact they could often be all directly related. This at first seems odd but a few examples may help to illustrate. Turlough an fhiona O Donnell, lord of Tirconnell, d.1423, had 18 eighteen sons by 10 different women and 59 grandsons in the male line. The O'Reilly lord of East Brefny, Mulmora, d.1566, had at least 58 grandsons who took the name of O'Reilly. In this light it is easy to understand how the Cavalry component of a sept could easily be a family affair in the most literal of senses. The "close" family aristocratic element could also be augmented by their more wealthy followers who answered their call to arms or "rising out". This could be further enhanced by young nobles who frequently traveled to other Irish Lordships to take service with another Lord. So for example in 1406 two sons of the King of Connacht travelled to Offaly with their attendants to serve the Lord of Offaly against the English of Meath. 

When looking at contemporary pictures of how these horsemen were armed and equipped a fairly broad spectrum has been used as there really aren't that many images. However just by looking at the first two pictures below, one from c.1399 and the other from c.1580 what is immediately striking is how similar the horsemen look despite nearly two centuries in between. The two unusual things about the Irish cavalry of the 16th Century were that they didn't use stirrups and that they used long lances overarm rather than the normal couched lance of late medieval/early renaissance warfare. John Dymmok in "A Treatise of Ireland" c.1600 described them as such "The horsemen are armed with headpeeces, shirtes of mayle or jackes, a sworde, a skayne, and a speare. They ryde vyon paddes, or pillowes without styrvps, and in this differ from ours; that in joyninge with the enemy, theye beare not their staves or launces vnder arme, and so put it to the reste, but takinge yt by the midle, beare yt aboue arme, and soe encounter." As with the Kern and Galloglass they of course had their attendants as grooms for their horses as well as leading their spare mounts and taking care of their harness and weaponry. Dymmok goes on to state that "Every Horsman hath two or thre horses, and to euery horse a knave : his horse of service is allwaies led spare, and his knave, which caryeth his harness and speare, rydeth vpon the other, or els upon a hackeney."

Depiction of Irish Horsemen attacking Richard IIs Cavalry c.1399

16th Century Irish Horseman c.1580. He is actually a Burke and so an Anglo-Irishman riding and armed in Gaelic Irish style.

As with the Irish infantry I was keen to have the cavalry component of the army looking as much like those in the original sources as possible. I used the old Redoubt Enterprises Irish miniatures from their renaissance range for my horsemen but had to do quite a bit of conversion work to complete the unit. I think the biggest issue for me was that the Redoubt figures all have large wicker shields. As I mentioned in my last post I think this comes from Edmund Spensers  "A View of the present State of Ireland" of 1596 where he states "their longe broad sheeldes, made but with wicker roddes, which are comonly used amongst the said Northeren Irishe". This may have been the case but the image below showing Irish Cavalry in a skirmish with English Horsemen (who are actually quite similarly equipped save for the stirrups and boots) has some really good depictions of Irish Cavalry shields. Only two examples of these shields or targes survive and there is a great description of making replicas of them here on Claiomh, the Irish living history groups, Facebook page: .

This shield issue meant I had the nasty job of removing the cast on wicker shields using a knife, drill and saw. It took ages and I can safely say I will not be attempting to remove 11 cast on large shields from metal miniatures again! I replaced the wicker shields with as close as I could get to the Irish shields in the image above. I know that the large bosses in the centre are not really correct and what is more frustrating is that Vendel used to make shields exactly like those in Derrickes image and they were available in packs on their own but such is the way with miniatures. Little niche ranges often appear and then disappear a few years later. I also included a couple bucklers from The Assault Group and painted some designs on them. These were inspired by a line from Edmund Spenser "Likewise rownd lether targettes, as the Spanyarde fashion, who used it, for the most part, paynted, which in Ireland they use alsoe, in many places, colored after ther rude fashion". I have mirrored the image of one of the Irish standards on one of the targes and on the other I attempted a Gaelic style pattern similar to the kind of thing seen on the Kerns Jackets (I think these Jackets may have perhaps been called Ionars, following on from my last post).

Irish Horse from John Derricke's Image of Ireland 1581. Note the "hook" style nasal guards on the front of their helmets, plumes on the back of some of the helms and the shields worn on straps. The fallen horsemen at the bottom of the image also shed useful light on how they were equipped.

An Irish Chieftan, horse, showing the trappings off beautifully, and horseboy from The Image of Ireland, John Derricke 1581.

When it comes to the horses I have to give Redoubt credit as they are the only manufacturer I know of who have made any horses in 28mm that are in the unique Irish trappings with a "cushion" being ridden on rather than a saddle. The image above by John Derricke shows how this worked very clearly. I am glad this element of the Irish cavalry can be represented on the miniatures. As a nod to the contemporary images, and also to some of the images shown in my last post, I added various different plumes to the horsemen. Ok, so some of the plumes I added maybe a little over the top compared to those seen in the images but I really think they add to the cavalry and make them look suitably aristocratic. Some of the images show relatively simple plumes, for example the mounted chieftan in the image below or the cavalry fleeing from the English shown above. Others head accoutrements are a bit more dramatic, for example the Wild Irish Rider of 1575 or the Chieftan shown being blessed by a priest and then on horseback in one of John Derricke's images.

With regard to these two images, both shown below, firstly I am unsure what type of troop the "Wild Irish Rider" is really meant to represent. He certainly doesn't seem to be an aristocratic Irishman from his dress but he is riding stirrupless in the Irish manner and certainly dressed like a native Irishman of the 1500s. Ian Heath in his "Armies of the Sixteenth Century" argues that Horseboys normally fought on foot, despite their name which was more to do with the fact that they cared for the nobles horses and led the spare mounts. Certainly by Tyrones Rebellion or the Nine Years War, as it is also known, the Irish did have lighter cavalry than the mail armoured nobles so perhaps some Irish Chiefs also fielded even lighter horse armed with bows and darts or javelins earlier in the century. Horses were certainly in plentiful supply in Ireland.

Close up of an Irish Chieftan, note the plume at the top of his helm.

A lighter armed "Wild Irish Rider" Abraham de Bruyn 1575.

An Irish Chieftan riding under the O'Neill Banner.

Secondly, have a look at the images of the Chieftan shown below and then have a look at Redoubts representation of a Gaelic Chief. Apart from the helmet I think you will agree their miniature looks very similar, wrapped in his "brat" or is it an Irish mantle? He certainly looks the part. If you have a look a the image of the Irish cavalry fleeing the English horse you will notice that their helmets have quite unusual nose guards. Surviving pieces and images show Galloglass helmets sometimes had these as well. The miniatures also have these on their helmets which is a nice touch. Quite why they also have mail hanging from the back of their helms I am unsure, as I haven't seen this in the images I have looked at but maybe I have missed something. You will notice I've chosen to represent a lot of the helms as painted or maybe cloth covered. My "excuse" for this is that if you look at some of the images of Kern and Galloglass in my last post they have coloured helmets. If these infantrymen did then surely their aristocratic betters wouldn't want to be outdone! The painted helms are also a nice throwback to the Anglo-Norman roots some of these horsemen may have had. The mail armoured Burke in one of the images above is in fact Anglo-Irish, Burke being a corruption of de Burgh, and even the great Shane O'Neill was a grandson, on his maternal side, of Garret Mor, the 8th Earl of Kildare.

Two depictions on an Irish Chieftan from Derrickes Image of Ireland 1581. Note the unsual helmet and plume.

So here are the horsemen, shown with Petes superb Irish flags: The flag I have chosen to show with the unit is taken from a picture map of the Battle of the Erne Fords in 1593, shown below. Annoyingly I couldn't find a really large copy of this image online, but it is flying in the block of horsemen at the top of the image. Flags, or bratachs in Gaelic, weren't particularly popular with the native Irish. In fact in some images of the later 16th century they are shown simply carrying captured English ensigns! Note also in this final image that in 1593 the cavalry are still using the lance overarm. A couple of the miniatures I have painted are carrying darts or javelins rather than these long lances. As with the Kern, the dart was still a popular weapon with the Irish Nobility. Ian Heath notes a skirmish between Neill Garbh O Donnell, who went against his cousin Red Hugh O Donnell, and fought for the English in the Nine Years War. Neill fought another kinsman, Rory, who thrust a large javelin into the head of Neill's horse but was able to retrieve it as it was held on a thong.

All in all I am fairly pleased with the finished unit. I think they are colourful and flamboyant enough to represent the Gaelic Irish aristocracy. There are a few nasty areas behind the shields that were created when I removed the original wicker shields. I have tried to simply paint these areas in shadow, as can be seen in the photo of the miniatures from the rear and I don't think this detracts too much from the finished horsemen. The Redshanks will hopefully be up next and I will try and get some photos of the whole host assembled as well.

Irish Noble Cavalry armed with Swords, Darts or Javelins and Long Lances that were used overarm.

Irish Noble Cavalry. The flag, or bratach in Gaelic, is from a depiction of Hugh Maguires cavalry at the Battle of the Erne Fords 1593, see the image below.

Battle of the Erne Fords 1593, the Irish Cavalry can be seen in the top of the image holding their lances overarm.

The Irish Horse from behind.

Monday, 1 January 2018

"Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied"

Something different to start 2018 off with, some Gaelic Irish. We have Kern and Galloglass, warriors who made it into Shakespeare's Macbeth they were so notorious by the very end of the 16th Century. A few Horseboys accompany them as well. Late Medieval/Early Renaissance Irish armies have been an interest of mine for a long time and when I was selling my old Elizabethan Irish army on Ebay I decided to start another one! Often the way with wargaming. The Claymore Castings figures helped sway my decision as despite the fact they are made for the 14th Century many of the Irish and Highland sculpts are perfect for the 1500s, even more so with a little bit of converting. Another reason I thought I would give this army another go is that the cattle raids and ambushes of Irish Warfare in this period are perfect for Lion Rampant games, this will be a great army to skirmish with my 1513 and 1540s Tudors. The Kern can also be used as mercenaries for my 1540s English (see the last photo). The fact that many of the figures can be used for quite a wide time span is another bonus.

Tudor Ireland is a theatre that does suffer a little from not having an entire really well sculpted range to support it. Lots of manufacturers make a few figures but some are quite old sculpts or the miniatures are very large which is a shame. With a bit of work and careful selection of figures most of the Irish troop types can be represented. I think only the very end of the 16th Century, Tyrone's Rebellion, also known as the Nine Years War would still be quite tricky to do well in 28mm at the moment. The traditional Gaelic troop types were rapidly replaced with Caliver and Pikemen and there aren't really any great figures for these troops yet. For most of the 16th Century, when Kern, Galloglass and Redshanks were used, there are figures available. 

Irish Gallowglass, Galloglaich, Galloglass or Galloglas!

The Galloglass

Gallowglass, Galloglass or Galloglas, this is one of those words you find a few different spellings for, comes from the Gaelic "Galloglaich". It is normally translated as meaning "foreign warrior" as to denote that they were not originally native Irish. Sean Duffy, in "The World of the Galloglass", states that the word is in fact short hand for "warrior from Innse Gall" meaning the Hebrides. Whatever the exact etymology is, these were heavy infantry who came from the Hebrides and West Coast of Scotland to Ireland in the latter part of the 13th Century. They settled in Ireland and became part of the social strata. By the 16th Century many were in fact native Irishmen and some may have even been Anglo Irish with only the Captains being from the main Galloglass families such as the MacDonnells or the MacSweenys.

The unit of organisation of the Galloglass was the Spar, a term deriving from the name of the traditional Galloglass two handed axe, the sparth. A spar was a Galloglass and his two servants (they will be dealt with below). The Spars were organised into companies, also known as battles. The sources seem to differ on how many Spars were in a company. Ian Heath, in "Armies of the Sixteenth Century" provides examples of them being stated at 60 to 100 Spars in a company, but argues that by 1575 a company was set at 100 men with 13 being "dead pays", that is men who weren't actually present so instead the captain would collect their pay as a kind of "bonus". This was a practice common in lots of later 16th Century armies.

So what did the Galloglass look like? If you read my ramblings regularly you will know that I like to try and get my miniatures looking as close to contemporary images or descriptions as possible. For the Galloglass I had already decided to use the excellent figures by Claymore Castings, but of course I could not resist a few tweaks as a nod to some of the original artwork and sources. Let's start with weaponry. Galloglass were of course famed for their two handed axes, know as Sparths. They are known to have had a very distinctive shape. John Dymmok in his "A Treatise of Ireland", written c.1600, stated "the weapon they most vse is a batle axe, or halberd, six foote longe, the blade whereof is somewhat like a shomakers knyfe, and without pyke ; the stroake whereof is deadly where yt lighteth". I take this to mean it would look something like the axes carried by the MacSweeny Galloglass in the third image below. Annoyingly I used to have lots of these style axes in 28mm from the Vendel Irish range but I sold them before I decided to start this army again. They aren't always depicted carrying this style of axe however, see the second image below, so I was happy to use some other variations of the two handed axes.

Interestingly in the famous Dürer image of the Irish soldiers, the Galloglass themselves don't carry axes at all, although their following attendants may of course be carrying their axes for them. These look more akin to Lochaber axes than those described above. It is hard to know if these chaps were drawn from life. It would be fascinating to know if there really were Galloglass and Kern fighting in the Low Countries during this period, perhaps in the Guelders Wars, and that Dürer encountered them. The soldiers drawn match other descriptions so well that it is tempting to think he did see them.  However if you have a look at Dürers Rhinoceros sketch which was drawn from a description and realise he had never seen a Rhino you start to think that maybe he was going by a second hand account rather than a first hand encounter. It's hard to tell!

What Dürers image does show is two huge Claymores, one carried by a Galloglass himself and one by an attendant. I could not resist rearming some of the Claymore figures with two handed swords as they look really impressive and are, rightly or wrongly, also seen as a classic Galloglass weapon. As a further point to this, there are a lot of modern Galloglass images, and miniatures, where a two handed sword is being worn in a back scabbard. Aside from this seeming very impractical and the fact that the Galloglass had servants to carry their weapons, I have been unable to find a single contemporary image or description of these back scabbards. All the images I have found show these large swords being carried, normally under the arm, as the attendant is doing in the image below. I will return to this point when I work on some "Redshanks" for this army. If anyone does know of any contemporary evidence for the back scabbards let me know, I would quite like to be proven wrong on this one as some really nice miniatures have back scabbards sculpted on and removing them is a real pain!

Another weapon carried by a Galloglass in the Dürer image is the spear. I have included a few of these among my figures. Interestingly in some of the 16th century poems to the MacSweeny Galloglass their spears are described as being used to make temporary shelters when they camp, something the Landsknechts did with their pikes and halberds in camp and shown in European pictures of sieges. In her essay "Images of the Galloglass in poems to the MacSweeneys" Katherine Simms translates one of these verses as "No surprise when Domhnall takes his rest after plunder sitting on the mountainside. Every man withdraws his spear from what constituted the sleeping-quarters last night". Simms also notes that the Galloglass Constables, may have in fact been mounted. In 1397 a Catalan Pilgrim stated he had met the Great O'Neill's Constable of Galloglass, Owen MacDonnell, at the head of a troop of one hundred horsemen. As a Constable was a prestigious position and horses were in plentiful supply in Ireland, the Irish Nobles normally took two or three to war, it would be of little surprise if some of the Galloglass did indeed travel on horseback and dismounted to fight.

Dürer's image of Irish Soldiers, 1521. There are some great details in this image: the unusual Galloglass helmets, the two handed swords, the horn carried by one of the attendants, the "jacket" and "brat" being worn by the attendants.

A "Royal" Galloglass from  Elizabeth I's Charter to Dublin c.1581. His helmet seems to be painted or cloth covered and to have an odd plume.

MacSweeny Galloglass from a Map of Ireland 1567. Note the crest or plume that the centre Galloglass has on his helmet.

Late 15th Century Galloglass from the Tomb of Felim O'Connor in Roscommon Friary.

Tomb Effigy of a Burke Warrior in Glinsk, Galway, second half of the 15th Century.

16th Century Tomb Effigy of a MacSweeny of Banagh. The image is not very clear but you can make out an odd crest on the helmet of the Galloglass on the left.

Other interesting little details I have noticed when looking at contemporary images of the Galloglass are the strange crests or plumes they sometimes have. In the images above the "Royal Galloglass" in Elizabeth I's charter, one of the MacSweenys in the 1567 map and the MacSweeny on the 16th tomb effigy all have variations of some kind of crest or plume. I couldn't resist adding a few of these to my Galloglass, see the two bases of them below. They are quite unique and really simple conversions to do that help to make the miniatures look the part.

In terms of armour at the very end of the 16th Century Dymmok described the Galloglass as "armed with a shert of mailc, a skull, and a skeine" with Edmund Spenser in 1596 stating they wore "a long shirte of mayle downe to the calfe of his legge". From looking at tomb effigies and based on these descriptions above it seems these specific Claymore Castings figures can be used to represent Galloglass from the 14th Century right up to the end of the 16th Century at a pinch. The only caveat I would add is that the two handed swords are probably more of a late 15th century onward weapon. While it would be nice to have some in Burgonets or Morions for the Elizabethan Wars I can always convert and add some of these later. If you look at the tomb effigies from Roscommon and Glinsk shown above you can see these figures match them really well. I like the fact not all of them are in mail, one of Dürer's Galloglass is depicted only wearing a long "cotun", and there are plenty of contemporary tomb effigies where Hebridean Warriors are depicted in cotuns and mantles of mail only.

Galloglass by Claymore Castings. I have added a crest to one of the helmets and a few moustaches to some of them with greenstuff. One carries a spear as in the Dürer image.

More Galloglass by Claymore Castings. The chap pointing with the axe is a converted Highlander and I have replaced one of the axes with a two handed "claymore", again as in the Dürer image.

The Galloglass charging into battle!

The Galloglass from behind - note there are no two handed swords in back scabbards!

Irish Kern or Kerne

The Kern

The term Kern or Kerne comes from the Gaelic "Ceithearn". The Scots Highlanders "Cateran" comes from the same source. These were the native Irish infantry, it seems some of the "Household Kern" or "Ceithearn Tighe" were full time soldiers or perhaps more accurately bodyguards or "police" who fought under hereditary captains. As with the Galloglass I wanted my representation of these soldiers to look as much like contemporary images as possible. For the 16th Century there are some really characterful images of these Irishmen as can be seen below. They wear the léine, a saffron coloured shirt made of linen with voluminous sleeves, and characteristic sleeved "jackets". I don't know when the "jackets" first appear, interestingly the Irish in Dürer's image don't wear them although one is in something similar. Is this perhaps evidence this wasn't an image drawn from a first hand meeting or did the jackets worn in the later 16th Century evolve from this more basic style? To me they look like a specifically later 16th Century fashion, the depictions of them seem to come from the 1540s onward, but I may be wrong. Perhaps they were worn earlier.

In the first three images below the Kern are shown armed with swords, javelins or "darts" as they were known, and skeans, a narrow Irish dagger. Interestingly in all of the images below one of the Kern has at least a gauntlet for his left arm, in the 1547 image one has his entire left arm covered. As this armour is always on the left it makes me wonder if these were worn as some kind of parrying armour for sword fighting, instead of a shield or buckler? Sadly no manufacturer has made any Kern with these gauntlets yet which is a shame as I would have like to included some in this army. Perhaps a conversion for the future?

What is odd about the images below is that none of the Kern are shown carrying shields yet in contemporary accounts they are often described as doing so. Kern saw service for Henry V at the siege of Rouen, 1418-1419, where they were used in considerable numbers to protect supply lines through forest and woodland. Monstrelet described them as such "This King of England had with him in his company a vast number of Irish, of who far the greatest part went on foot. One of their feet was covered, the other was naked, without having clouts, and poorly clad. Each had a target and little javelins, with large knives of a strange fashion". It seems nearly two hundred years later their armaments had changed little save for the adoption of firearms. John Dymmok in  "A Treatise of Ireland" c.1600, described them as such "The kerne is a kinde of footeman, sleigh tly armed with a sworde, a targett of woode, or a bow and sheafe of arrows with barbed heades, or els 3 dartes, which they cast with a wonderfull facillity and nearnes, a weapon more noysom to the enemy, especially horsemen, then yt is deadly ; within theise few yeares they have practized the muskett and callyver, and are growne good and ready shott".

Miniature sculpts often depict Kern carrying "wicker" shields. I presume this is based on their description by Edmund Spenser in "A View of the present State of Ireland", 1596, where it is stated "Moreover, their longe broad sheeldes, made but with wicker roddes, which are comonly used amongst the said Northeren Irishe, but specially of the Scottes". As Spenser states that only the Northern Irish used the Wicker shields I decided not to use them for this army (which is proving to be a real pain with the Cavalry I am currently working on as they all have wicker shields cast on them!) and to go for the wooden "targets" described by both Monstrelet and Dymmok. It does seem odd that the Kern never carry them in contemporary images though.

Lucas d'Heeres Irish, c1575. Note the gauntlet hanging on a cord.

Irish from the Códice De Trajes c.1547. Note the arm armour worn by the Kern with the Javelin or "Dart".

Irish Kern from Henry VIIIs reign. Again the arm armour can be seen worn by one of the central figures. Claymore Castings have done a nice sculpt of his leather helm on one of their figures.

Irish Kern Skirmishing.

Kern with a mixture of Javelins or "Darts" and bows.
I have converted the Kern in the red jacket by adding a léine with its characteristic long sleeves from green stuff.

For the two units of skirmishing Kern shown above I have used predominantly Claymore Castings figures, with a few tweaks of course. There are also a couple of Crusader Miniatures casts in the mix for added variety. I have used different shields for them and have made sure all of their léines have the characteristic baggy sleeves. Some of the figures come with them sculpted on but for those that don't its relatively simple to add them on with green stuff. A few extra moustaches and beards have also been added as well.

In Gaelic Irish society their large cattle herds or "creaghts" were of great importance to the Clans or Septs as they were known at the time. A few years ago I painted up some bases of cattle which fit in really well with these figures, remember that the cattle back in the 16th Century were much smaller than modern breeds. I wanted some Kern to accompany the "creaght" who weren't in quite as dynamic poses as most of the Claymore figures. The resulting unit is shown below and is made up of  Claymore and Crusader figures with the Piper being from Scheltrum Miniatures I think? Apart from the Claymore figures they have all had their weapons swapped and the Piper has had his baggy sleeves added with green stuff.

The unit was inspired by the two contemporary images below, one showing Kern in Henry VIII's employ during the Siege of Boulogne in 1544 and a later representation from John Derrickes "Image of Ireland" in 1581 showing Kern raiding cattle and horses. I wanted to create a small band of Kern that looked like those in these images being led by a Piper. I like the more relaxed poses of these miniatures and they work well carrying javelins and axes as in the Derricke image. At some point I would like to do some more Kern with swords and also arquebuses.

A band of Kern including a Piper guard the cattle. This unit was inspired by the two images below.

Detail from the Cowdray House Murals which depicted Henry VIII's siege of Boulogne in 1544. In the centre Irish Kern can be seen driving the cattle into the camp. They are armed with Javelins and lead by a Piper. Some appear to be wearing Morions. Henry used Kern in significant numbers in France and in Scotland during the 1540s.

Irish Soldiery from John Derrickes "Image of Ireland", 1581. Note the Piper and the Javelins and Axes they are armed with.

A lone Kern drives the cattle or "creaght" onwards. 

The Horseboys or "Daloynes"

The Horseboys or "Daloynes"

An interesting thing about the Gaelic armies of this period is that all of the different classes of soldier, the Cavalry, Galloglass and Kern, had attendants. The Cavalry had two or three Horseboys to look after their horses, each Galloglass two servants and for every two Kern it seems a page or boy was also present to carry their weapons, mantles and victuals. That the Kern had boys to accompany them is born out by the issues this caused the English Government who were hiring them in May 1544. During the 1540s the English engaged in warfare on an unusually large scale, helped greatly by the finances from the dissolution of the monasteries. Henry VIII was fighting on fronts in Scotland and in France and was in need of manpower. In May 1544 1,154 Kern were hired and rather than one boy for every two Kern it was requested that one for every four was hired instead. So of the 1,154 soldiers hired, 234 were in fact the accompanying boys, only 920 of them being actual Kern soldiery.

That being said it seems that the attendants did take part in combat sometimes. Returning again to Dymmok, he stated "Some will have the Dalonyes or horsboyes to be a fourthe sorte, for that they take them into the fight: they are the very skumme, and outcaste of the cuntrye, and not lesse serviceable in the campe for meatinge and dressinge of horses, then hurtfull to the enemy with their dartes". The word "Daloyne" is a corruption of the Gaelic "Diolmhainigh", meaning hireling. I am unsure whether the Horseboys ever fought mounted, it seem logical that they may have done if they were attending to the nobilitys other horses.

I wanted to represent these Daloynes in some way in this army and decided to use the Old Glory Kern miniatures for them. They work well to represent boys as they are quite slight figures and most of them don't have beards. I have even removed a few beards from some of the miniatures. It seems that some of the Galloglass and Kern attendants were in fact young men and not always boys but I wanted the unit to be distinctive so tried to make them all look as much like the young lad illustrated below in Derricke's "Image of Ireland" as possible! They are only armed with javelins, there are no shields or other weapons. Weren't they meant to be carrying everyone else's stuff anyway? I still have another unit of these to paint up, they are really easy to do and the handy thing is they can also be used as Kern if need be.

A Horseboy from John Derrickes "Image of Ireland", 1581.

Horseboys, these are Old Glory Kern without the shields. I also removed any beards to make them look younger!

So below is the Gaelic raiding party so far along with a picture of the Kern accompanying my Mid-16th Century English. I am currently working on the Irish Noble cavalry and will hopefully be able to post pictures of them up soon. As mentioned above I have another unit of Horseboys to complete as well as some Redshanks in the pipeline. I would like to add more to this army but as I said at the start Tudor Ireland is an area that I don't think has yet been done real justice by any manufacturers in 28mm. Here's hoping this will happen one day! The beauty of this army is that while the converting and green stuff may take some time the miniatures are really quick to paint, especially when you consider how much time I have spent painting Landsknechts!

Happy New Year.

The Irish raiding party so far.

And finally an image of the Kern accompanying my 1540s English. Henry VIII employed Irish Kern as mercenaries in Scotland and France during the 1540s and when the English Deputies campaigned in Ireland they regularly used Kern in their forces.