Irish 16th Century Foot Soldiers Ceatharna
Irish Ceatharna [Kern], or native soldiers existed from the most ancient times until the middle of the 17th century.
They were the archetypal Irish light infantry.
Relying on speed above all, they never adopted the use of armour.
Weapons included sword, darts, slings, muskets
Specialised in all aspects of guerrilla warfare, skirmishing, scouting and pursuit.
"Exceeding swift and terrible executioners"
Fynes Moryson 1601
For centuries they were successful, and did not change their style of fighting. A remarkable achievement in the face of what on paper at least are far stronger and more heavily armed and armoured Viking, Norman and later English government armies.
Despite the conservatism of their warrior tradition, they were not averse to innovation, they were armed with guns during the Nine Years War,
known to English as Kern, a corruption of Ceatharna, a word possibly from a root ceathar meaning four, or square, which may have referred originally to the shape of formed bodies of troops.
The picture above is of a group of Kern drawn "from the quick" i.e. from life
Ceatharna were light troops.
Buidhean (pron. bweean) comes from the root bui meaning yellow means a host, a military unit.
Irish soldiers generally, and kern almost always, dressed in saffron dyed linen shirts called léine with flared, hanging sleeves.
Over the leine a short embroidered jacket called an inar woven of goats hair with half sleeves resting on the upper arm.
a mantle of woven cloth, usually wool and fringed with tassles either simple in shape shaped with a hood or lined with fur, often otter pelt for its waterproof qualities a blanket and over the head against the elements and midges
They carry a long multi-purpose dagger 8-12 inches called a scian suspended from a strap or belt around the waist
Swear oaths on weapons common in many warrior cultures
Guard on the left forearm, wrapped cloak, or shield called a sciath
Spears and javelins are commonly carried, known as darts flighted javelins. Javelins are thrown with the help of a looped cord increasing the speed of the cast and perhaps imparting a spin to the weapon.
Two types of sword were used by Irish infantry during the Gaelic period
The most ancient and distinctive weapon is a short sword with a ring shaped pommel, sometimes with a blade flared toward the tip.
Swords were not suspended from the hip as in Europe, but was carried always in the hand, usually the left. This unusual method, which would appear at first to be an encumbrance. But it is always at the ready and can be easily concealed beneath their cloaks.
A light woven scabbard with fringed end. Thrown down when sword is drawn
This class of weapon, a fast bladed slashing sword
Style of Fighting Tactics