Watching Hurling and then Hurling

I’ve always liked the Irish.  Little about them is dull.  They respect things like beer, music, and sports where there’s a potential for injury.  And well I had to correct a few of them in their claim that Hurling is the fastest sport in the world (of course, it’s ice hockey), I can’t refute that it’s a brilliant sport.  In fact, as I watched my first live match of hurling, in a dungeon-like Irish bar in Cork, I kept wondering to myself why this sport isn’t more popular.

Cork Castle

I think this is the original Hurling goal

Hurling almost seems like a mix of a half dozen sports.  But essentially, it’s lacrosse played with a battle axe and no padding, with goals that are both nets and uprights.  Scoring happens at the pace of a basketball game, and the momentum can swing just as quickly too.

The skill of hurlers can’t be properly conveyed by a silly-witted Canadian like myself.  It really is incredible.  And the drinking skills of the crowds in Ireland watch the matches too should never be challenged.

Cork Pub

The bar I watched the hurling in.

My night in Cork started at the hurling match against Clare County and quickly evolved into a typical night on the town just about anywhere in Ireland.  It started with a small pub, with a sign labelled “no cell phones” clearly standing watch over the tables.  There was a piano in the corner, and a grumpy old man behind the bar.  And from there it’s all a bit murky.  You see, when you drink with the Irish, it’s not that you drink to forget, it’s just that you don’t remember.

Cork, Ireland

My tale of the night ends outside the tiny pub, searching my smartphone for messages, then discovering I lost the bar, and then finding McDonald’s.  The heavy rains must have cleared my foggy mind, because I clearly remember walking home with a big mac in each hand, a chicken sandwich tucked under my arm, and my camera slung over my shoulder.

In reality, we visited several establishments after tiny said pub, and I woke up 12 hours later cuddling a chicken burger, and carrying a weight in my belly that can’t entirely be blamed on the booze, but also the Big Macs.

But you see, well the title might be misleading, I never did hurl the night I watched Irish hurling, I’m just a sucker for a good title.  I do, however, assure you that hurling is a beautiful sport, and the Irish, they can drink.

Wanna see a bit of hurling? Watch this video:

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. Ok, that’s a kind of “Walking Quidditch”, right? That would definitely be a sport I watch on TV (despite being in a stadium) with a Beamish in my hand.

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  2. “Walking Quidditch” – I love it! I always find it difficult to explain hurling to someone who’s never heard of it, but this shall be my new go-to description!
    But, I guess if they haven’t seen Harry Potter I could also direct them to this post, you explained it better than I ever could, even though I’m Irish!

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