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Ancient Irish sport of hurling wins UNESCO heritage status

AFP  |  Dublin 

The Irish sport of hurling -- often described as "the fastest game on grass" -- was granted UNESCO special status on Thursday, adding it to the register of "Intangible of Humanity".

"I am delighted that hurling has achieved international recognition," Irish Minister said.

"Hurling is a key element of Irish For centuries, hurling has been an important part of the Irish identity, with men and women passing on this living tradition to each rising generation."

Hurling is known for its brutal contact tackles and during play the ball regularly travels at speeds in excess of 150 kilometres per hour (93 mph), meaning players wear face masks.

The game is played by teams of 15 on a pitch with "H" shaped goals at either end. Players use carved wooden sticks called "hurleys" -- resembling paddles -- as well as their hands and feet to move a "sliotar" -- similar to a baseball -- up the field.

Points are gained by striking the sliotar between the goalposts with the hurley. A goal, when the ball passes below the bar, is worth three points while a shot over the crossbar is worth one point.

Hurling and Camogie -- a form of the game played by women -- have a deep cultural and political history in the Republic.

According to the (GAA) the sport is one of the oldest field games in the world, and has been popular for at least 3,000 years in

Tales of the sport are enshrined in Irish myth and legend, which emphasise it as a form of training for the rigours of the battlefield.

The early Celtic legal system codified compensation for hurling accidents -- with provisions for and even death during a game.

In the 12th century hurling was outlawed, following the Norman invasion of

In the history books there are also reports that when the Irish fought the British for independence members of the (IRA) sometimes trained with hurleys -- using them as stand-ins for the rifles they lacked.

Hurling enjoys a vigorous following across

It is played widely in schools, and counties regularly play against each other in well-attended league and championship competitions presided over by the GAA.

"This UNESCO award is international recognition for our native game and an acknowledgement of its cultural, social and sporting importance to the people of Ireland," said GAA

"It reaffirms the fact that Hurling is more than just a sport. It is a national treasure; an ancient tradition that connects us to our Celtic past and a part of our DNA."


UNESCO is the United Nations Educational,

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 18:25 IST
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