5 Facts About Ireland's Favorite Sport: Hurling
January 2, 2020

Many Richmonders within the last few years have adopted a new sport that the Irish have coveted for many centuries. Hurling, a sport many Americans have never heard before, but many are instantly intrigued once they see it played. Hurling has uncanny similarities to many classic American sports like: Baseball, Lacrosse, Field Hockey, Soccer, Football and more..

This video below introduces new players and fans on how the ancient game of Hurling is played.


To learn more about the history of Hurling, grab some of your favorite Traditional Irish Bread and indulge "5 Fact You Need to Know About Hurling: Ireland's Favorite Gaelic Sport."


1) Hurling May Predate Jesus Christ!

Many Irish historians argue that Hurling is older than documented Irish History, being introduced to Ireland by the Celts more than 2,000 years ago! Yet, the earliest surviving references to hurling are found in 7th and 8th century AD Irish laws, which describe various sporting injuries that should be compensated. Hurling is also mentioned in the 11th/ 12th, while further descriptions are to be found in 13th/14th century romantic tale Cath Mhaigh Tuireadh Chunga. This latter account details a very bloody hurling game between the Tuatha De Danna and the Fir Bolg that was played at Moytura, Co. Mayo. This mythical match supposedly took place in 1072 BC! (the Bronze Age).

Hurling has a richer history than most sports on earth!


2) Hurling has Its Own Legendary Heroes

The most famous early account of the hurling is found in the Tain Bo Cuailgne(From the book of Leinster), which describes the exploits of the Ulster hero Cú Chullainn. Although the surviving version of this epic dates from the 12th century it has been convincingly argued that the story’s origins lie in the Iron Age (500 BC – 400 AD).  

Hurling is mentioned a number of times in the text, most notably when the young hero, then known as Setanta, uses a hurley and sliotar to kill a vicious hound. Henceforth he became known as Cú Chulainn (Cullen’s hound), after the owner of the dog.

Think twice before facing off with a Hurling legend!


3) Hurling As a Matter of Law

Ireland's ancient Brehon Law stated that the son of a local king could have his hurley hooped in bronze, while others could only use copper. It also stated that it was illegal to confiscate a hurley.

During the 13th Century, the English attempted to break away from of Brehon Law with the Statute of Kilkenny. This new statute forbade landowners from playing hurling due to its excessive violence, stating further that the English settlers of the Pale would be better served to practice archery and fencing in order to repel the attacks of the Gaelic Clans.

Hurling, and its' equipment, has evolved with the ages.


4) Hurling Boasts it's Own Golden Age

When English bans on Hurling failed outright, even the Anglo-Irish landlords took to the sport during the 18th century. They would hold hugely popular competitions on their lands between their tenants, and the sport flourished, leading this period to be known as the ‘Golden Age’ of hurling.

Tales of colorful hurling matches from this era continue to be collected from modern Irish storytellers and newspapers of the era.

Many believe we're entering a new Golden Age of hurling with its rising popularity around the world.

All Hurling players now are required to wearing helemts - but that wasn't always the case!


5) Hurling Will Forever Be an Amateur Sport

In the 1880's Hurling would see a new revival in the name of Michael Cusack. Michael recognized and promoted the need for a uniformed set of rules so that Hurling could be played fairly amongst all the teams n Ireland.

On November 1, 1884 Cusack convened the first meeting of the ‘Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of national Pastimes.

The GAA is focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders. The Association also promotes Irish music and dance, and the Irish language.

Today the GAA is the biggest amateur sporting association in the world with over 2,500 clubs with over 300 of these clubs outside of Ireland.

Hurling is an inseparable part of Irish culture.


Two and A Half Irishmen Bakery are proud supporters of Richmond's  Battery Park Hurling team.

If you're interested in joining the team, or simply want to attend one of our weekly practices, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/RichmondBatteryGAA/