• 10am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London
National Army Museum
  • 10am - 5.30pm
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

The Pike Dinner

'United Irishmen in training', 1798

'United Irishmen in training', 1798

10 June 1798 became known as ‘Pike Sunday’ when Crown forces in Ireland descended en masse, seized hidden pikes and arrested blacksmiths. Join historian Patrick Mercer OBE to find out more about this extraordinary episode in Britain and Ireland’s military history.

The pike has long been used as a weapon by medieval and early armies. By the 18th century, it had become synonymous with revolutionary violence. Economical and easy to make, quickly mastered by those used to a pitchfork, and deadly in the right hands, the pike became the symbol of the 1798 Irish Rising.

It’s a strange contradiction. Many thousands of Irish soldiers fought for King George against Napoleon. However, at one stage, 50,000 Irishmen, inspired and supported by revolutionary France, had risen up against British rule. This rebellion encapsulates the complex and often brutal relationship between Ireland and Britain at this turbulent time. As Fintan O’Toole wrote in 'The Irish Times' (7 July 2012): 'No Irish event of such consequence is more powerfully symbolised by a single object than the 1798 insurrection and the pike.'

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"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."