This hurling ball was found in a bog near Sneem, Co Kerry in the mid 1980s. It came into the Museum in 1985. This ball has not been carbon dated yet but generally balls like this date from between the 15th to the 19th century. It has been intricately decorated with plaited interlacing. Hurling balls would have been made as tokens of affection – love tokens – by young women and given to young hurlers for the Mayday celebrations and hurling contests. In today’s game of hurling the ball or sliotar is made of cork and thread with a leather covering. In the past they were made from a variety of materials such as wood and rubber and cow and horse hair were often used. There is a link between the name sliotar and the Irish word ‘liotar’, meaning ‘hair’. The camán is made from ash.
Making a Sliotar
Soft hair of the body of the animal would have been gathered for the centre using large brushes. Then hair from the mane and tail was plaited and wound around itself to make the main body of the ball.
From: Sneem, Co Kerry
Date: Sometime between the 15th and 19th century
Made of: Horse and human hair
Find in the Museum: Curator's Choice Exhibition