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History of hurling

The oldest field game in Europe, the fastest field game in the world - just two of the things we are able to boast about this ancient celtic game.

Records show evidence that hurling was a regular pasttime in Ireland for well over 2,000 years. In fact the first recorded reference to hurling dates to the Battle of Moytura, near Cong in County Mayo (in the West of Ireland) in 1272 BC between the native Fir Bolg and the invading Tuatha De Danann. When both sides were preparing for battle they decided to have a hurling contest instead, between twenty-seven of the best players from each side. Both sides fought a bloody match and in the end when they were bruised and broken the match finished with the he Fir Bolg victorious who then slew the Tuatha De Danann.

It is known that the Tailtean Games, said to be the oldest recorded organised sports in the world, were held in Ireland as far back as approximately 1800BC, and that they went on until 1180AD. Hurling was likely to have been a central part of those games.

One of the earliest references to hurling but by far the most famous and widely known is from the 12th centuary document which tells the story of Cu Chulainn and clearly mentions the word camán which is the Irish word for hurley. Cu Chulainn was one of the greatest Irish mythological heroes and legend tells us of his famous feat when, as a young boy and known then as Setanta, he defeated a viscous hound by hitting his ball through the mouth of the hound with his hurley. For this feat he won the name Cu Chulainn, the Hound of Chulainn. This story is told in Táin Bo Cuailgne (The Cattle Raid of Cooley).

Not just a sport, hurling was also a common way to train warriors for battle. Even the Vikings tried their hand at the sport before we sent them home! :-)

Grandfather of Ice-hockey?

The exact origins of ice-hockey are not fully clear. But one Canadian source seems to be in no doubt. The website Birth Place Of Hockey claims the following:

"[Ice Hockey] originated around 1800, in Windsor, where the boys of Canada's first college, King's College School, established in 1788, adapted the exciting field game of Hurley to the ice of their favorite skating ponds and originated a new winter game, Ice Hurley. Over a period of decades, Ice Hurley gradually developed into Ice Hockey."

Some claim ice-hockey developed from the Scottish game of Shinty, but as we know shinty came from hurling as it was introduced to Scotland along with the Gaelic language approximatly 2000 years ago by Irish missionaries.

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