Hurling is the oldest sport in Ireland and Kilkenny, the ‘real home of hurling', is the best place to learn about the ‘fastest game on grass'.
If you've already decided to visit Kilkenny – or if today's episode inspires you to add this incredible location to your Ireland vacation, I have 2 free itineraries that you may want to grab: 7 Castles in 7 Days and the 2 Week Road Trip.
About the Sport of Hurling
Hurling is an ancient sport of Gaelic origin that has been played for over 3000 years.
The Gaelic Athletic Association was founded in 1884 to revitalize Irish sport nearly decimated by the famine. The first All Ireland competition was played in 1887.
The Home of Hurling
Kilkenny is the ‘winningest' county with 36 All Ireland championships, giving the county bragging rights at the ‘Home of Hurling' in Ireland.
The Fastest Sport on Grass
It could almost be said that every sport played today has a base in hurling. You'll find recognizable elements of American football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and even golf, in a hurling match.
Played on a pitch 135 meters long and 85 meters wide (larger than a football field), each hurling team has 15 players per side. One referee oversees the entire game, which averages a score every minute.
Players use a hurl (or hurley) and the ball is called a sliotar (slitter). The sliotar can be hit with the hurl or carried on the hurl (similar to the ‘egg & spoon' race) and hand passed.
Camogie, the female version of the sport, is identical to hurling.
Learn the Sport of Hurling in Kilkenny
James Kavanagh started Hurling Tours Ireland in Kilkenny in 2018 to help visitors learn and understand the game of hurling – and even step on a field and give it a try.
Hurling Tours Ireland has two locations – at the O'Loughlin Gaels GAA Grounds in Kilkenny city and at the local hurling field next to Kavanagh's Bar in Freshford.
Hurling tours are suitable for all ages and athletic ability is not required.
Plan about 2 hours for your hurling tour. More if you decide to stay for a pint.
3 Things You Shouldn't Miss in County Kilkenny
Kilkenny Castle (bonus: this is an OPW Heritage site)
Kyteler's Inn for dining and incredible history
Newpark Hotel – great for families