Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.B.17

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Ireland has nominated Hurling (No. 01263) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Hurling, or Camogie (a form of Hurling played by women), is a field game played by two teams which dates back 2,000 years and features strongly in Irish mythology, most notably in the epic saga of Cú Chulainn. It is played throughout the island of Ireland, particularly in more fertile agricultural areas, as well as overseas. Traditionally, the number of players in the game was unregulated and games were played across open fields. Nowadays, there are fifteen players on adult teams and the game is played on a clearly marked pitch. Players use a wooden stick (hurley), similar to a hockey stick but with a flat end, and a small ball (sliotar), with the aim being to use the hurley to strike the sliotar and hit it between the opposing team’s goalposts. The primary bearers and practitioners are the players, known as ‘hurlers’ (male) and ‘camógs’ (female). Hurling is considered as an intrinsic part of Irish culture and plays a central role in promoting health and wellbeing, inclusiveness and team spirit. Today, the skills are promoted and transmitted through coaching and games in schools and clubs. As the custodians of Hurling, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Camogie Association, both volunteer-led organizations, play a central role in transmitting the skills and values associated with Hurling.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   As a sport practised for centuries, Hurling provides Irish people with a strong sense of identity. Hurley and sliotar, designating the stick and the ball used in the game, symbolize the commitment of its players, and their dedication to the skills required to master it. The social relevance and rootedness of Hurling in Irish culture is underlined by the fact that it was already revitalized and safeguarded in the late nineteenth century during the Gaelic Revival. The game is transmitted during coaching sessions, especially in schools and clubs, enabling almost every child to come into contact with the game from a young age.

R.2:   Hurling has been practised across Ireland as well as in many other countries, meaning that the game has the potential to promote dialogue among different communities, spread awareness about sports and games as important aspects of intangible cultural heritage, and inspire other communities practising traditional games to pursue their safeguarding. As the game is widely practised over a long period of time, research brings together different stakeholders across sports, history, archaeology and civic society.

R.3:   The safeguarding plan foresees the promotion of the element in connection with the Convention. Knowledge will be disseminated primarily within the educational system, in a dedicated museum and through online platforms, workshops and courses. More in-depth research and documentation of the element and measures concerning the currently endangered production of hurleys are also included. The communities and groups were involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures, represented by leading associations and institutions in charge of the transmission, documentation and safeguarding of the element. Their participation and supervision will ensure that the community remains at the heart of the safeguarding activities.

R.4:   The nomination was initiated and prepared by institutions representing the community of practitioners, consisting mostly of volunteers. The Hurling and Camogie community was addressed via social media platforms and print media with an invitation to submit individual comments, observations and recommendations. A large number of stakeholders and practitioners provided their free, prior and informed consent, in different forms, including personal testimonies by children of different ethnic origins – the youngest generation of practitioners.

R.5:   The element has been included since 2016 in the interim National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The inventory is updated following considerations by the interim Advisory Group. The inscription was initiated by the Hurling Development Committee and many other relevant stakeholders participated in the preparation of the proposal.

  1. Inscribes Hurling on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Reminds the State Party that cultural and social meanings should be at the heart of any safeguarding efforts under the Convention, and that the professionalized practice of a sport or game could undermine these functions and threaten its status as an element of intangible cultural heritage;
  3. Further reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites it to include detailed information in its next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level on how the interim National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is regularly updated with the active participation of the communities, groups and non-governmental organizations concerned, in accordance with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.