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What is an Irish shovel?

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Application

A multi-purpose shovel designed for heavy digging and shovelling This shovel was traditionally used in Ireland where it suited the moist Irish climate. It has been designed for digging in particularly heavy, impenetrable soils where cultivation is more difficult.

Its long blade with a pointed tip is perfect for effortless insertion and the curved sides can slice through solid soils and roots.

The blade’s wide design at the shoulder is also ideal for moving excavated soil out of the way and for shifting aggregate such as shingle, sand and gravel.

Any difference is negligible

Is there a difference between the Irish shovel and the West Country shovel?

Any difference is negligible, so don’t let this cause you confusion. Both shovels can work just as well as each other.

The Irish shovel usually has a slightly longer blade with more of a point at the end, whereas the West Country shovel has a slightly wider, flatter face.

This is not always the case as designs differ between manufacturers.

The blade

The blade is wide and flat, tapering to a point towards its cutting edge The most robust heads  (the blade and the socket) are forged from one piece of steel, which means that the shaft-to-socket connection is either a solid socket or, less commonly, a strapped socket connection.

The length of the blade is usually around 350mm (14″) and 250mm (10″) at its widest.

Wonkee Donkee says 'A solid socket means that head is forged from one piece of steel rather than stamped out of a thin sheet like an open socket, which creates a weak point at the neck. A solid socket connection is much sturdier.'
Solid strapped connection For more information on socket connections, please see our section: How is the blade attached to the shaft?

The shaft

This will prevent water from entering any open points, lessening any damage A steel shovel should have high quality welds (metal joins) that have no open points to allow water to enter. This will reduce the risk of internal rust and damage.

There should not be any fractured seams: welds must look immaculate and as smooth as possible.

The shaft is extra-long, usually up to 1828mm (72 inches) The extra long shaft (usually without a handle grip) makes digging in heavy soils easier by using the power of levers. It also gives greater digging depth particularly if working in a deep trenches.

The length of the shaft can be anything from 1.21m (48″) to 1.82m (72″).

Use an insulated shaft when digging around live cables For working around live cables or power lines, use an insulated shaft.

For more information, please see our section: Insulated shovels