Irish Traditions: Hurling

The sport of hurling may be new to many, but not to Ireland. In fact, it's been around for nearly 3,000 years...

Brian White runs the Seattle Gaels, an organization that works to promote Irish sports in the Pacific Northwest, including Gaelic football as well as men's, women's, and youth hurling teams. 

So what, exactly, is hurling?

It begins with a stick made out of ash wood, called a "hurley". 

"They're made from the bottom part of the tree, right where the root comes out so that the grain sort of follows that curve of the stick," says Brian.

The ball is about the size of a baseball, but somewhat softer. The object is to hit the ball with the hurley, between the goalposts.

"That's three points. That's called a goal.  Or you can get the ball over the bar and between the posts, much like a field goal or an extra point in American football. And that's one point."

You can also kick it in or over, but...

"You can't throw it. That's the one thing you can't do. You can't throw the ball at all...but what you can do is hand pass the ball."

You can't pick it up either with your gloves, but you can use a roll lift or a jab lift, which involves a player running towards the ball and picking it up as they come up underneath it. 

Contact with other players via their sticks technically is not allowed in hurling, but helmets are required just in case.

For more on hurling and the Seattle Gaels, visit



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