23 August 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
To coincide with this year’s All-Ireland Hurling Championship and the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, a new temporary exhibition will open tomorrow in the Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald’s Park, Cork.
The exhibition “Hair Hurling Balls: Earliest Artefacts of our National Game” was first exhibited at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo in 2013 and has since travelled to the GAA Museum – Croke Park, Galway City Museum and Tipperary County Museum.
It showcases the predecessor of the modern leather-covered sliotar. These 14 balls are made of matted cow hair with a plaited horsehair covering. All were found through hand-cutting turf in bogs over the past 100 years.
Munster features strongly with finds from Clare, north Kerry, west Limerick and Tipperary. There are also balls from east Sligo and one from north Mayo.
The National Museum’s hair hurling ball collection will be displayed along with an ancient hurling stick found in Offaly. The exhibition will also include examples of hurleys from our recent past and sliotars from our hurling legends of today. Cork Public Museum will supplement the exhibition with artefacts and images relating to Cork’s hurling history.
Daniel Breen, Acting Curator, Cork Public Museum, said “Cork has such a long and deep-rooted history with hurling and this exhibition will serve to highlight this strong connection with one of our best loved national games. We are sure that this exhibition will be a treat for all Cork Hurling fans.”
Clodagh Doyle, Curator of the exhibition, said “The scientific analysis and research undertaken by the National Museum of Ireland on these artefacts shows us what goes on behind the scenes in Museums. We have always known that hurling was an ancient Irish game. Radio carbon dating revealed that the earliest ball was 800 years old! They are the evidence of our hurling heritage.”
This exciting new exhibition firmly establishes the antiquity of our national game of Hurling.
The exhibition will run from August 2017 until August 2018.