Hair hurling balls: Earliest artefacts of our national game

Hair Hurling Balls, Clockwise from top - Lavally, Co. Sligo; Toornageehy, Co. Kerry; Tooreen, Co. Kerry

Hurling was popularly played cross-country, on river-fields, on beaches and in bogs. However, until now, very little was known about the hurling balls used throughout the country.

This exhibition features 14 hurling balls made from matted cow hair with a plaited horsehair covering. The Museum’s oldest-known hurley is also on display. All the balls dated to the late seventeenth century or earlier. The earliest was made in the second half of the twelfth century – that’s 800 years old!

The exhibition uncovers the story of each one - where they were found, how they were made, their age and how they measure up to the modern ball. The exhibition also centres on the scientific research used to untangle the mysteries of these balls. The scientific analysis and research undertaken by the Museum over the past four years shows us what goes on behind the scenes in Museums. This revealed so much more than the naked eye could see...

Munster features strongly with finds from Clare, north Kerry, west Limerick and Tipperary (One is in Cork Public Museum and one is in Kerry County Museum). There are also balls from east Sligo and the latest ball into the National Museum of Ireland collection is from north Mayo. All were found through hand cutting turf in bogs over the past 100 years.

The exhibition will also include examples of hurleys from our recent past and sliotars from our hurling legends of today.

The exhibition runs until May 2014.

An exciting programme of events accompanies this interactive exhibition.

PUBLIC PROGRAMME

Sunday 27 October 2013: 2.30-4pm. Workshop

Tales From The Bog. How does the bog preserve objects from long ago? How is modern forensic science used to uncover our buried past? Join Brid Colhoun from Ballycroy National Park to learn more. Discover bog finds in the Ancient Hurling Balls exhibition. Booking required.

Saturday 16 November 2013: 3pm. Tour

Temporary Exhibition: Hair Hurling Balls - Earliest Artefacts of Our National Game. Tour this exhibition to find out how this rare collection came about, discover its providence and the science which sheds light on these historic finds with folklife curator Clodagh Doyle. Booking required.

Saturday 16 November 2013: 4pm. Talk

From Setanta to Sheflin: An Illustrated History of Hurling. Hurling is an ancient game of myth and legend which today is a 21st century commercialised sport. UCD Lecturer Paul Rouse will trace hurling history and examine why it is played uniquely by the Irish. Booking required.

These are just the events for this autumn 2013; further events for Spring 2014 will be posted in due course.

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SCHOOLS PROGRAMME

PRIMARY

Wednesday 16 October 2013:

10am - 11.30am, 12.00noon-1.30pm.

Workshop: Tales from the Bog. How does the bog preserve objects from long ago? How is modern forensic science used to uncover our buried past? Join Brid Colhoun from Ballycroy National Park to learn more. Discover bog finds in the Ancient Hurling Balls exhibition.

1st to 6th Class. SESE: History, Geography, Science. Booking required.

Friday 14 February 2014:

10.00am - 11.00am, 11.30am - 12.30pm.

Workshop: Engineers Week: Technology behind the Sliotar. Join Dr. Fiachra Collins and discover how the hurling ball has been engineered and designed over the years, evolving from traditional hand-crafting to modern automated production. Compare them to our ancient hurling balls on display. 1st to 6th Class . SESE: History, Science. Booking required.

Thursday 27th February 2014:

10.00am - 11.00am, 11.30am - 12.30pm.

Workshop: Felting the Past! Long ago hurling balls were made from felted cow and plaited horse hair! Only a small number of balls are known to have survived the centuries, having been preserved in peat bogs around the country. View the exhibition of these rare balls and learn how they were made, then have a go at making your own felt ball with Aoife O’Toole. 3rd to 6th Class. SESE: History Arts Education: Visual Arts. Booking required.

POST-PRIMARY

Wednesday 17th October 2013:

10am-11.30am, 12.00noon-1.30pm

Workshop: Tales from the Bog. How does the bog preserve objects from long ago? How is modern forensic science used to uncover our buried past? Join Brid Colhoun from Ballycroy National Park to learn more. Discover bog finds in the Ancient Hurling Balls exhibition.

Junior Cycle, Senior Cycle. Junior Cycle: History, Geography, Science. Senior Cycle: History, Geography, Biology. Booking required.

Friday 14th February 2014:

10.00am - 11.00am, 11.30am - 12.30pm

Workshop: Engineers Week: Technology behind the Sliotar. Join Dr. Fiachra Collins and discover how the hurling ball has been engineered and designed over the years, evolving from traditional hand-crafting to modern automated production. Compare them to our ancient hurling balls on display.

Junior Cycle, Transition Year, Senior Cycle. Junior Cycle: Technology, Science, History. Senior Cycle: Engineering, Technology, Physics, History. Booking required.

Thursday 27th February 2014:

10.00am - 11.00am, 11.30am - 12.30pm

Workshop: Felting the Past!

Long ago hurling balls were made from felted cow and plaited horse hair! Only 14 such balls are known to have survived the centuries, having been preserved in peat bogs around the country. View the exhibition of these rare balls and learn how they were made, then have a go at making your own felt ball with Aoife O’Toole.

Junior Cycle, Transition Year. Junior Cycle: Art, Craft and Design, History. Booking required.

 
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