Where The Clash Of The Ash Begins...........
The Hurley.... If God Made SomeThing Better, He Kept It For Himself..
It's a Thrill to Know SomeDay You Will ........ Stand Shoulder to Shoulder... Swing that Camán and Hear the Roar
of the Crowd... and then Hear the Crowd Applause... a Mighty Clash of the Ash... as the sliothar sails High in the
Sky and Splits the Posts. Nothing Compares. And NOTHING EVER WILL.
Hurling is unlike any other field game.... the speed... the drama... the tension...the manly combat... the roar of the crowd.... the fierce Club and County rivalry on and off the field.... and it's ALL in the NAME of the GAME.......... AND THE PEOPLE WHO PROVIDE SUCH WIZARDRY ARE UNPAID PERFORMERS......... Almost EVERYONE ELSE BENEFITS IN CASH OR BENEFIT IN KIND........
And WHERE DOES IT ALL START?
The usual comment is.... it starts in the school..... BUT NO..... It starts with the PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE CHILDRENS HURLEYS... and it
ALWAYS WILL...... Without the hurley maker... we have NO GAME.........
The population of hurley (camán) and sliothar manufacturers around Ireland has grown enormously over the last two decades and that is testament to the popularity of the game with the youth of Ireland.
For many years the cry of the shortage of ash in Ireland has not deterred new entrepreneurs setting up new hurley manufacturing businesses and a recent browse at the hurley makers guild in Ireland, confirmed that hurley making, as a venture, is serious business.
In the early months of 2019, as editor and promoter, I intend to visit many hurley manufacturers.... find out the ups and downs of hurley making and just as I compose and present All Ireland Hall Of Fame tributes/profiles on legendary Club & County ex players, I’m fairly sure there’s a rich vein of established manufacturers waiting to disclose the charms of their business and how it all began for them.
As much as hurling is a skillful game, making hurleys to precision standards is a daily challenge, whilst retaining current customers and acquiring new clients, is always a priority. Hurlers generally stick with their own manufactures and loyalty to one another is greatly appreciated.
Suppliers have two main custom bases, the club hurler and those lucky enough to make the inter county grades. Clubs, schools and colleges are other markets also, whilst sports shops, and now even German retailers, see the merit in stocking hurleys. I grew up with a hurley as an extension to my right hand every day at primary school in Passage West, Co. Cork, but like many more, I left for John Bulls land seven months before my 16th birthday. When I sailed out of Penrose Quay in Cork city in Christmas 1960, I unashamedly had my hurley and gear with me also on the Innisfallen ship. My father was down on the quayside with a white hanky waving goodbye to his eldest son. He had cycled the seven miles up from Passage West.
Landing in Fishguard on a bitterly cold and snowy early winter morning, I boarded a train, Coventry bound, with my cousin Billy as my guardian angel. I got many strange looks with the hurley strewn over my shoulder and when my Coventry English landlady greeted me on arrival, she wondered...what this Irish weapon really was. That's my hurlery... Mrs. Foster. And what's it for young man... she enquired?
I'm going to play with the St. Finbarr's team in Coventry... I said. I'm from Cork and we're the best hurling county in the land.
Now young man... I never saw a hurley in my life, said Mrs. Foster.... to me it looks like a dangerous weapon and I'm taking it from you when you're under my roof. You'll get it back ok when your'e going to St. Finbarrs (wherever that is) and if you don't agree, go and find yourself new lodgings tomorrow morning. And I did find new lodgings with an Irish landlady the very next day.. Problem solved.
And now the real story............
Hurley making has surely become a competitive business with so many tendering for trade but with the future of hurling assured and its popularity expanding on many fronts, the custom base will continue to develop.
Every hurler of all ages needs a hurley to play the game and the All Ireland Hall of Fame Online Gallery... will now set out on our nationwide travels to play our own game, by meeting the business proprietors who set up their own sports plan, and the hurley was the No.1 item on their agenda. Talk later.
Derry JF Doody