We have always known it but now the world has recognised the cultural importance of hurling and camogie with news that the sport and all that goes with it have been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

At a meeting of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mauritius yesterday (28 November), Ireland’s nomination of Hurling was approved, thereby achieving international recognition of hurling as a key element of Ireland’s living heritage to be safeguarded for future generations.

“I am delighted that Hurling has achieved international recognition by UNESCO,” said Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage Josepha Madigan.

“Hurling is a key element of Irish culture. For centuries, hurling has been an important part of the Irish identity, with men and women passing on this living tradition to each rising generation. I am grateful to the Camogie Association and the GAA for their work with my Department to achieve this UNESCO recognition.”


Ireland ratified the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2015. The Convention was established to safeguard, appreciate, and raise awareness of cultural heritage locally, nationally, and internationally. Intangible cultural heritage, or living heritage, refers to customs, traditions, crafts, games, and practices that are part of people’s lives and identities both individually and as part of wider communities, and that are passed on from generation to generation

Hurling, which is used to denote the entire game, including camogie, as played by men, women and children, is Ireland’s second inscription on the Representative List. Ireland’s first nomination, Uilleann Piping, was officially inscribed last year.

The submission for this inscription was led by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in partnership with the GAA and the Camogie Association.

“The decision of UNESCO to award the prestigious Intangible Cultural Heritage status to the game of hurling is yet another high point in what has been a quite exceptional 2018 for the game,” said GAA President John Horan.


“Coming on the back of what was yet another exceptional summer of Championship hurling, this UNESCO award is international recognition for our native game and an acknowledgement of its cultural, social and sporting importance to the People of Ireland.”

“It reaffirms the fact that Hurling is more than just a sport. It is a national treasure; an ancient tradition that connects us to our Celtic past and a part of our DNA. At a time of unprecedented popularity for the Game here, we owe a debt of gratitude to the generations of people who preserved, protected and promoted the game at school, club and county levels so that it would survive and thrive for our benefit. All of us involved in the Association are charged with ensuring that the promotional work we undertake preserves Hurling for future generations.”

“It is a great honour for Camogie to receive this prestigious international recognition which illustrates the integral role which Hurling and Camogie play in Irish life and the great history associated with our games,” added Camogie Association President Kathleen Woods.

“I am delighted for all of our wonderful volunteers and players that our unique games have been recognised as they are the lifeblood of our games. I wish to thank Minister Madigan and her colleagues within the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht as well as our colleagues in the GAA for their hard work and support with this submission.”


The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, and the Minister for State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, were both quick to recognise the Award.

“Arguably one of the fastest, most exciting and skilful field games in the world, Hurling has been part of Irish life for centuries,” said Minister Ross.

“Today’s announcement will further assist in keeping our national sports alive and raise more awareness of it around the world as well as ensuring its continued popularity. Hurling and camogie are played not just in Dublin, but in Dubai and Durban also. In addition to heritage value, this magnificent sport attracts fans from all over the world who wish to see it played on “native soil” thus supporting our vibrant tourism industry.”

“By achieving international recognition, Hurling will be recognised as not just a game, but also as an Irish tradition steeped in history and Irish pride going back to the days of Cú Chulainn and beyond. Hurling is a central part of our Irish cultural and sporting heritage and today’s acknowledgement of that is something to celebrate and be proud of.”

“It is very welcome news to hear that UNESCO has added hurling and camogie to the list of protected cultural activities,” added Minister Griffin.

“We have always known that hurling and camogie are a strong part of our culture and heritage and I want to commend the Department of Culture, the GAA and the Camogie Association on the successful submission to UNESCO.”

Image Credit: Brendan Moran, Sportsfile