04 Feb 2020
The world's largest-selling travel guide recommends trying one of Ireland’s unique national sports.
Travel bible Lonely Planet has put the Irish sport of hurling on top of its list of Unique Sports to Try on Your Travels in 2020.
Coming ahead of the likes of volcano boarding in Nicaragua and freediving in Australia, Lonely Planet says a trip to experience the Gaelic game will not only leave you with a potential new hobby, but a deeper understanding and a stronger connection with the Irish people.
“Lightning-fast reactions are an advantage for those taking up hurling, which is the fastest field game on Earth” the travel bible states. “Learning to play offers not only a physical workout but an opportunity to delve into Irish culture; the sport is practically a religion in parts of the Emerald Isle, where it has been played for around 4,000 years.”
Full of pace and power and recognised by UNESCO as global cultural asset, the ancient game has been shaped by myth, history and geography and, with Gaelic football, is deeply engrained in the Irish national identity and culture.
From Antrim to Tipperary and from Dublin to Down, rival county clubs play fiercely competitive hurling matches across the island, and there are numerous opportunities to learn, play and spectate the game regardless of age, gender or skill level.
Live like a local as you learn about and play the sport with Experience Gaelic Games, based in Dublin, Galway and Cork. With an incredible passion for the game, their team of coaches are senior players who also specialise in teaching curious travellers how to play hurling and other Irish sports.
Immerse yourself in a Gaelic world with their various experience packages that can place you at the centre of the sport and bring you into the heart of what it is to be Irish.
In Dublin and Cork the sessions operate out of Gaelic Athletic Association – or GAA – clubs both a few minutes out of the city centres, while the Galway sessions are based at a GAA club on the beautiful shores of Galway Bay.
With Galway being the European Capital of Culture in 2020, and also featuring in the Lonely Planet list of best cities in the world to visit this year, there is no finer place to be immersed in hurling.
But if a workout is not your style, you can still become absorbed in the game through the craft of hurl-making at Scullion Hurls, an économusée, or working museum, in the scenic Glens of Antrim.
Watch as the Scullion family produce and hand finish fine Irish hurls out of ash wood, a skill which has been passed through generations. Then explore the exhibition area where you can learn about the history of the sport and the family connections and culture behind it.
Croke Park Stadium, County Dublin
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