So why this very unusual name anyways? Where does it come from, why was it chosen and why do so many have so much trouble remembering it?
It’s been a pleasure fielding the constant inquiry about the meaning of Gallowglass over the years. There’s been times where it has flowed quite naturally and times where even I have not felt confidant with my acute knowledge in this regard.
A quick Wikipedia search defines `gallowglass`as:
“The gallowglass were a mercenary warrior élite among Gaelic-Norse clans residing in the Western Isles of Scotland (or, Hebrides) and Scottish Highlands from the mid 13th century to the end of the 16th century. As Scots, they were Gaels and shared a common origin and heritage with the Irish, but as they had intermarried with the 10th century Norse settlers of the islands and coastal areas of Scotland and the Picts, the Irish called them Gall Gaeil (“foreign Gaels”).
They were the mainstay of Scottish and Irish warfare before the advent of gunpowder, and depended upon seasonal service with Irish lords. A military chieftain would often select a gallowglass to serve as his personal aide and bodyguard, because as a foreigner, the gallowglass would be less subject to local feuds and influences.”
Essentially The name “gallowglass” means servant, summarized as `one indebted to another’.
The Store Gallowglass Books has been in existance since it’s founding in 1990. It was started, and of course named, by a gentleman called Terry Malone. Terry was very well read in his Celtic history and folklore and revered the Gallowglass as bodyguards, protectors, per se, of the nobility that contracted their services. Perhaps, the metaphor of the ‘gallowglass’ being the protector of literature and books that span the ages, can summarize a possible purpose for his giving the name to the business.
For whatever reason, the name was truly chosen, I have been very comfotable with it’s unique nature and the connotation to service that defining the role of these medieval warriors can lead to. In a time when service is somewhat compromised in place of perceived price discount and larger purchasing power, if this business were remembered for anything, I would wish it to be it’s dedicated and consistent focus on service.
GALLOWGLASS – in dictionary
Gallowglass: gal·lo·glass or gal·low·glass
Pronunciation Key (gl-gls) n. [Irish Gaelic gal-
loglach : gall, foreigner + oglach, soldier (from
óg, from Old Irish óac. See yeu in Indo-
European Roots).] \Gal”low*glass`\, n. [Ir. gal
loglach. Cf. Gillie.]
Galloglass or gallowglass (Irish gallóglach, from
gall, ‘foreigner’, and óglach, ‘young warrior-
servant’). An armed servitor or foot soldier in
ancient Ireland. Shakespeare speaks of kerns
and gallowglasses as coming from the Western
Isles of Scotland. See also KERN.