How many of you have taken
vacations to Ireland
and seen people play a sport with a funny type of stick? The
traditional Irish sport
is called hurling (Not to be confused with what you do when you have the flu-Ha!) and the stick is called a hurl/hurley (Camán in Gaelic.)
The wooden stick is used to hit a leather ball (A Sliotar-I will explain about these in another post) in the game of hurling. A hurl measures between 28 to 40 inches long-depending on the height of the player. It has a flattened and curved end, which is what provides the striking surface for the ball, and is often called the “bas.” At the same end the “heel” of the hurley is the area to the left of the band and at the hurley’s edge. The “heel” is used to give height to a ball struck on the ground. The rounded area to the right of the band is the “toe” of the hurley and is used in the roll or jab lift techniques which allow a player to gain possession of a ball into the hand from the ground. Bands have been put on hurleys since the 8th century. However, Brehon Laws premitted only a king’s son to have a bronze band, while all others had to use a copper band. The handle is at the opposite end of the hurley’s “bas” and is typically wrapped with a self-adhesive foam grip. You can even find colored foam grips to match the colors of your favorite county.
Hurleys are typically made from ash wood. The base of the tree near the root is the only part used and local craftsmen in Ireland sell them from 20-50 Euros. Ash wood is found in Connemara, Donegal, and Wicklow. There are some hurleys that are even made from plastic, which are great for beginners or playing with inside.
No matter how well crafted the hurley is, a hurler goes through a couple a season. Hurleys often break if two collide during a game, which is known as “the clash of the ash.” Some hurleys can be repaired by a method called “splicing,” which involves cutting a “bas” shaped piece from another hurley and fixing it with glue and nails. Then it has to be sanded into shape.
So, if you are planning
and wondering what to get some of your friends, hurleys make a fantastic souvenir
. You can purchase them at Elvery’s, Limetime Sports, or if you really want an authentic homemade hurley-make a trip down to Tramore in Co. Waterford. Pay Peter Flanagan Hurley Makers a visit and tell them that Taryn sent you. Peter and Patrice will look after you and make sure you leave Ireland with one of the best hurleys ever!
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