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'An intrinsic part of Irish culture': Hurling has been granted special status by UNESCO

Ireland’s national sport has been recognised by the UN’s cultural body.

Doon and Na Piarsaigh contested this year's Limerick Senior Hurling Championship final.
Doon and Na Piarsaigh contested this year's Limerick Senior Hurling Championship final.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

HURLING AND CAMOGIE have been added to a UNESCO list designed to raise the awareness of important cultures worldwide.

The Irish sport is now part of the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, having been added to the list today.

A number of other global cultural practices were added to the list today, among them Jamaican reggae music a form of Georgian wrestling called chidaoba, and the festivity of Las Parrandas in the centre of Cuba.

In its blurb highlighting the importance of hurling to Irish culture, UNESCO notes that it also has a central role in Irish mythology.

“Hurling, or camogie (a form of hurling played by women), is a field game played by two teams which dates back 2,000 years and features strongly in Irish mythology, most notably in the epic saga of Cú Chulainn,” the description states.

It is played throughout the island of Ireland, particularly in more fertile agricultural areas, as well as overseas. Traditionally, the number of players in the game was unregulated and games were played across open fields. Nowadays, there are fifteen players on adult teams and the game is played on a clearly marked pitch.

UNESCO also describes a hurley as being “similar to a hockey stick but with a flat end” and says that a sliotar is essentially “a small ball”. 

The description says that hurling is “an intrinsic part of Irish culture” and notes that the GAA plays a central role in transmitting “the skills and values associated with hurling”. 

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The granting of UNESCO status to hurling has been welcomed by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan who said it gives “prestigious international recognition of our national game”.

Further details about the granting of UNESCO status to hurling will be announced later this morning at an event in Croke Park.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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