First thing’s first, what is a shillelagh? A shillelagh is a small uprooted tree generally around two-thirds the height of its bearer. Shillelaghs are used to kill snakes in the Snake Pits during St. Pat’s annual Snake Invasion. During the annual Snake Invasion, participants kill rubber snakes with their weapon of choice by smashing the rubber snake in the ground while screaming, “HERE’S TO THE FIRST ANNUAL BEST EVER ST. PAT’S, HERE’S TO THE SECOND ANNUAL BEST EVER ST. PAT’S, HERE’S TO THE THIRD ANNUAL BEST EVER ST. PAT’S,” and so forth, until reaching the 111th Annual Best Ever St. Pat’s. After participants successfully complete 111 rounds of screaming, a St. Pat’s Board representative will ask them a trivia question. These trivia questions are generally about St. Pat’s, the St. Pat’s Board, and the history of St. Pat’s. After a participant can correctly answer the trivia question, the representative will inform the participant the snake is “dead”. At that point the participant will proceed to remove the head of the snake by any means necessary. This generally means taking the muddy rubber snake off the ground and biting off the snake’s head, thereby successfully killing the snake. After that, the student will obtain another rubber snake from a St. Pat’s Board representative and start the entire process over.
Now, participants can not just walk into the Snake Pits with any old regular tree they ripped out of the ground at morning. There are requirements that must take place prior to the event. To start off with, participants must obtain a small tree. Generally these small uprooted trees can be found on a friend’s local farm or property. However, it can not be just any old tree. Shillelaghs must have the thickness at the base larger than the grip of the possessor’s hands and it must have the ability to stand on its own. When it is stood on its own, the roots will be up.
The best advice to finding a great shillelagh is to walk in the woods for a while until the perfect tree is discovered. It is found that the best way to rip the chosen shillelagh out of the ground is by first digging around the base of the tree. After making sure most of the roots are exposed from removed earth, participants can then rock the tree back and forth until the tree is on its side resting on the ground. At this point, participants can use a chainsaw to cut the tree’s trunk right before the branches start. After the tree is cut, it is advised that participants pick up their shillelagh to see if they can carry it home, or if it is too heavy. Once the shillelagh is home, participants can start debarking and sanding their work of art. Once the shillelagh is smooth, the real artwork can begin.
Participants must paint or carve at least three shamrocks (carefully not making them four leaf clovers), two snakes, their organization/team name (including chapter name for fraternities and sororities), the words and year “111th Annual Best Ever St. Pat’s 2019” and at least one carving. After the masterpiece is made, participates are ready to go out into the pits. The pits will be open from March 4th to March 6th starting at 9:00 AM and going to 4:00 PM. And remember, what makes the grass grow green? BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD!