Blackthorn Transactions, LLC

the Blackthorn & How it Relates to the Vision of the firm


Success often demands that diverse strengths be harnessed. Like the dynamics of an organization existing for a purpose, the history of the Blackthorn is multi-faceted - yet it simultaneously maintains a simple elegance. Though it is a plant made of hard wood with thorns, attractive white flowers and plum-like fruits (used in making gin), its meaning goes deeper. It has many uses and has a storied tradition.


Today, most people would know of the Blackthorn as the same tough and hard wood that the famous “Shillelagh”, or walking cane, was once made. Though a slightly different type of wood, few materials compare to the Blackthorn for its ratio of hardness to lightness with a natural feel – as well as its flexibility. Neither are two Blackthorns alike. As such, like an organization, each is considered, one of a kind, with a personality of its own. The Blackthorn is therefore considered to be the rightful inheritor of the name, Shillelagh, given its uniqueness, history and creative uses. The latter quality, creativity, is also a way to further the goal of managing the multi-faceted – including that which organizations encounter today.


In fact, a true Shillelagh hasn’t existed for many years as the oak from the Shillelagh forest in the Wicklow area of Ireland has largely disappeared. In ancient Ireland, however, the same Celtic wood, although considered sacred, could also be used in self-defense. Sherlock Holmes carried a stick to defend himself against the riff-raff and was considered to be an excellent single-stick fighter. Naturally, the same stick could be used to go on the offensive. Organizations also sometimes need to go on the offensive against competitors – so as to avoid being placed on the defensive - a competitively inferior position.


Traditionally, Shillelagh fighting is the native martial art of Ireland (one of the oldest martial arts in the world) and was considered a right of passage; a young male began training with a short Shillelagh and upon reaching manhood (capable of using it artfully), was given his first full-length Shillelagh. Though the word itself is derived from the term “conflict”, the Blackthorn shrub provides shelter for various types of small animals and is also a source of their nourishment. As with an organization, the stakeholders generally require “nourishment” – as in continuously learning and growing so as to effectively add value… and to be prepared for possible conflicts.


The Blackthorn also has medicinal and other qualities which can be used to heal everything from stomach and blood disorders to whitening teeth to even providing a red dye for clothing materials. Likewise, sometimes leaders of successful organizations need to show a clear sense of compassion and humanity.


The mythological significance of the Blackthorn also deserves mention - as it is considered to have magical qualities. In the folklore of Ireland, “little people” were thought to live in the Blackthorn shrubs. (This may also be due to the same plums that make for the tasty Blackthorn gin.) It was considered unlucky to cut down the tree - but given its many useful properties, carefully using it was thought to bring good fortune. Fairy tribes were thought to guard the Blackthorn from being cut down on certain days of the year (Holidays) or the violator would be faced with misfortune. Similar wood was thought to ward off evil, provide both good luck and wisdom. It can surely be said that luck plays a role in the fortunes of organizations as well. Naturally, it would be prudent for an organization to provide useful services to a client accompanied by pragmatic, as well as, wise counsel … and perhaps even an occasional bit of “magic”.


Irish tradition also provides that the venerable Blackthorn walking cane be passed down thru the generations as a family heirloom. At the end of the day, it is said; the Blackthorn isn’t about fighting or nationalism, but about the basic values of home and hearth. Organizations too need to have a higher meaning, and principles such as loyalty are sorely needed in an increasingly complex world – where the pace of change is increasing. Balance is also necessary between the inherent need for the personal security of its stakeholders with competition and the quest for winning. The true significance of the Blackthorn, however, continues to be a matter of debate … but as one writer commented, “that’s Irish, we don’t really want a definitive answer – it would take all the fun out of it”. Ultimately as well, with the many “curve balls” that life often throws, what kind of organization does one have if it can’t engage in some fun every now and then?


The circular symbol above (to the left of the company name above) is known as a “Celtic Knot”, the most common pattern seen in Celtic art.  Celtic knotwork characteristically has no beginning or end, and is entwined into highly complex, yet simultaneously, simple - loops and plats.  For this reason, Celtic knotwork is also believed to symbolize the infinite complexity of the interconnected forces of life, and the Celtic belief that creation has no beginning or end.  The circular design of the logo enhances this quality of eternity, and reinforces the idea of the "circle of life."  (Notably, the symbol is not unique to Celtic peoples; rather, it has been known to be used in such cultures and countries as Islam and Japan, respectively.) As a global organization, Blackthorn Transactions is aimed at making the complex – simple, and as seen in the Celtic Knot - and in excellence generally, there is an artistic beauty of sorts found in simplicity. In the context of an organization -  people, relationships, and ideas, are also interconnected. Once created, they too need to be constantly tended to - so as to make them if not “eternal”, to make them the somewhat manipulated legal term, an “’on-going’ concern”. A focus on simplicity helps further that goal – both for the company, the client and ultimately, for society generally.


In sum, and in-line with the mission statement of “achieving simplicity from complexity”, the complex part has been at minimum, touched on here; the simpler part then is to glean the values of Blackthorn Transactions – a global advisory firm providing products and services to clients engaged in corporate transactions.

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