History of Clan and Combative Systems

Since ours is a family system, it follows that our clan and combative systems histories are totally intertwined. The name Bradley in Ireland is derived from the native Gaelic O'Brollachain. Our clan was located in Counties Derry, Donegal, Tyrone and Cork. This family also anglicized their name as O'Brallaghan.

Shortly following the separation of the North and South of Ireland, the whole clan was outlawed by the British and forced to move to the 'Free State'/Erie. They were also "officially" forced to change their names to 'Bradley'.

Thus this was another way in which the British attempted to remove Irish identity (or that of the citizens of any occupied lands in the Commonwealth) by creating confusion over family roots or nationality.

This Bradley name was also brought to the country by settlers who arrived from England, especially during the seventeenth century.

That the Brollachain’s/O’Brolchain’s settled in Scotland and were ‘renamed’ is evidenced by instances of record such as references to "Mac an t-Saoir Ui Brolchain" or "son of the wright O Brolchain (or O’Brollachain – O’Brollachain’s by either spelling of the name being masons, builders and master builders – "wrights”)

Thus the Scots MacIntyre (Eng proun of Mac an t-Saoir) and O’Brollachian’s (Eng proun Bradley or Bradly) are one and the same family. MacIntyre being the name given to these Irish settlers in Scotland. This Irish settlement into Scotland occurred in the early 1500’s and the anglicizing of the Scots and Irish Gaelic’s led to the split/formation of two seemingly different families who were, in fact, one Irish, clan.

The name is also seen as O’Brallaghan, O’Brolloghan and Brodie.

The O'Brollachain name itself translates, literally, as 'the desendants of the son of the Chest'. In time most of the clan became stone masons with our own faction becoming known as 'the horse clan'.

The O’Brollocain’s married freely within the Sweeney’s, Mc Cauley’s, Doherty’s, Coyles and O’Neill’s (O’Nail’s). Each of these families had both Irish and Scots clans.

Likewise members of these families would turn from one to the other when refuge or enforcement was needed. These individuals, moving back and forth, were usually the family fighters/enforcers and often married into their host clan. Cross-training fighting styles was established and expected. Movement and family connections were established in Ireland, Scotland, Iona and other small islands. There is even evidence of movement to and from the French/Brittany Celts.

With the coming of the World Wars, family fighters from each branch and location joined the Allied forces and added this training and experience to their skill sets. Most simply did their time in service and held the opinion that there was nothing much useful to be learned from such “bloody awful ways of fighting”.

Those who served as commandos or with the various resistance groups were grateful “for the old ways” and “added some useful stuff” from their service.

After the wars some continued to find work as mercenaries/Soldiers Of Fortune. Some, naturally enough became involved in Ireland’s own growing ‘Troubles’, either joining up in the I.R.A. or simply accepting ‘work’ as it was sent their way.

Many listed as ‘labourers’ or ‘fishermen’ as these occupations allowed free movement without raising any eyebrows or 'official’ interests. Many employers had walked the same path themselves and understood the tongue in cheek communications hidden in statements like “…I’ve a wee job come in. I’ll be back when it’s done.”

The concept of plausible deniability was well understood and the nature or locations of such ‘wee jobs’ never inquired into further. An effective blending of both culture and business was essential to avoid upsetting known ‘hard men’ or drawing the unwanted attentions of the authorities.

Those of us youth who were connected to the ‘right’ families, could keep our mouths shut and could be groomed to the work were simply seen as the logical next generation. For most of us even our siblings and parents never knew we were “in” and we stuck together to make sure it stayed that way. Those relatives who were also “in” sponsored us and handled any gaps that occurred in our cover.

Times were changing but even my sponsors and trainers couldn’t possibly have foreseen how much. Professionals in their field, these men also worked as labourer’s, fishermen and as "lurchermen” (with dogs and ferrets on pest control issues). Each field chosen because of the freedom they provided to pursue darker occupations.

I apprenticed to one such ‘country character’. We provided fish and game to many a restaurant, hotel or bar. Spent hours ‘bird watching’ or enjoying long country hikes and runs. Training dogs and setting and tending nets. All these undertakings neatly explained activities and hours that would otherwise have been declared suspicious by friend and foe alike. In fact, we were very rarely questioned except by those who wondered as to our catch or the progress of our dogs.

We'd no way of knowing I'd end up in Canada. I teach professional use of force and related issues. For all my black belts it's the stuff that Paddy taught me that I still depend on. He's gone now and the word from home is that I was the last one he taught the whole system to.

I've an Irish passport that says I'm Plib Padric O'Brollachain and a Canadian one that calls me Philip Patrick Bradley. I've lived in the old world with the old ways. Now, in the new world, it's the old ways that still get the job done.

In any event family is family and our ways are important to me. Paddy could never have envisioned taking our clan combative systems outside our family but I find the law enforcement community to also be 'family' and they need these tools. It's time to take our system into the community at large.

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