In the spring of 1963, John Earnshaw of the Phoenix Mountaineering Club was formulating in his own mind the need for, and the possibility of improving in some ways, the safety protection needed for some climbs. After numerous sketches and rejections, he decided on the style and the shape of the Spud, as it has always been known. The origin of John Earnshaw’s choice of name for the device came about as follows. At the time of the invention, he had no access to machinery but one of his climbing protégés, Terrence Murphy, was an apprentice engineer and he volunteered to make a prototype. Everyone may of course already know that, in Ireland, potatoes are known as « murphys » and, in England, they are called « spuds ». Because of Terrence’s invaluable help, John Earnshaw named his invention Spud in his honour. He had no means of testing the device scientifically but, with help, he did the testing by jamming the Spud in a crack near the top of a climb in Ravensdale. He hurled a kit bag full of stones over the cliff to check if the device held fast. After several successful proving experiments he decided that the Spud was indeed safe to use.

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