Hurling in Ireland
Is that a band of rugged Celtic warriors screaming death cries as they charge at full speed down the battlefield wielding battle clubs? Nope, it’s the game called Hurling and it’s one of Ireland’s national sports. They act like warriors by defending their county or club’s pride and taking on all opponents. One of the fastest sports in the world, there’s lots of action to see at any moment of the game.
Jessica and I were lucky enough to get the chance to learn how to play Hurling in Kilkenny. We went with a group to the field and started by learning about the Hurley stick. They’re only made of Ash and from the base of the tree. We started off by learning how to use the Hurley stick and the basic rules of the game. The rules are similar to field hockey, but scoring is a bit different. There is a bar between two poles. Over the bar is one point and under it is three. Luckily, we had plenty of time to get the hang of the game. We had a fun little competition trying to score on our host for the chance to win a free drink.
The cool thing is that none of the players get paid. Not like in the NFL or MLB. The clubs normally make enough money on advertising to pay for their expenses and maybe just a bit more. That means that all these guys have a day job and do this on the side. That’s pretty crazy when you find out they might practice 15-20 hours a week during the season along with their normal job, family life, and everything else. They’re just playing for pride and glory and bragging rights all around the country.
You always end up hungry after practice and so we headed over to Lanigan’s bar for some Irish stew and the winner got to pour themselves a free pint of Guinness. This is part of the Kilkenny Way Experience where you learn how to play Hurling and get a meal and drink at the pub in town.