By Michael O'Keeffe, PRO of the South Kerry Juvenile Hurling Board
(As seen in the Kerryman newspaper, 14th May 2014)
On Saturday, 26th April, a very unique event, ‘A History of Hurling, Our National Game’ was held in the Muckross Schoolhouse, Killarney. This one-day seminar was kindly supported by the Trustee’s of Muckross House and was very much in-keeping with the educational, folk life and community outreach programmes of the Trustees.
The day consisted of a series of talks by a very impressive line-up of guest speakers including Seamus J. King (Author of ‘A History of Hurling’), Paudie Butler (Former GAA National Hurling Coaching Director), Tomás Mulcahy (Former All-Ireland Winning Cork Captain and Sports Analyst) and Eddie Keher (Kilkenny Hurling Legend). MC for the day’s events was none other than the ‘Voice of the GAA’, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. The event also showcased a very impressive collection of historic images of hurling since it’s origin. The collection included images from the Irish Photo Archive (www.irishphotoarchive.ie), the Irish Examiner (www.irishexaminer.com) and GaelicArt (www.gaelicart.com). A special and well-researched slideshow prepared by John Lenihan & Michael O’Keeffe of the South Kerry Juvenile Hurling Board was displayed highlighting the legendary heroes of days gone by as well as the current stars of the game.
Seamus J. King, a Tipperary native and one of the greatest GAA historians covered the early origins of hurling to the forming of the GAA. Seamus also had copies of his newly published book ‘The Little Book of Hurling’ on offer which is well worth the read.
Photograph: (from left) Micheal O Muircheartaigh (MC & Voice of the GAA), John Lenihan (South Kerry Juvenile Hurling Board), Tomas Mulcahy (former All-Ireland Winning Cork Captain & RTE Sports Analyst), Seamus J. King (Author, 'A History of Hurling'), Eddie
Keher (Kilkenny Hurling Legend), Paudie Butler (former GAA National Hurling Coaching Director), Michael O'Keeffe (PRO, South Kerry Juvenile Hurling) and Toddy Doyle (Events Manager, Muckross Schoolhouse).
Photograph by Valerie O'Sullivan.
Paudie Butler, former GAA National Hurling Coaching Director, was, as always, most inspiring. His presentation highlighted that this Irish game of hurling is one of the treasures of our heritage and associated it with our Irish music, dance and language. He was adamant that every child has the right to play our national game and he dedicated his life to promoting the game.
Tomás Mulcahy, former All-Ireland Winning Cork Captain and RTE Sports Analyst, gave an interesting presentation of the improvements in sporting achievements and how much the sport has progressed to almost professional status. He also made a very strong case, by highlighting many 21 yard frees, for the rule to stay intact as it is a great skill of the game. Later, during the panel discussion, Tomás and Eddie Keher expressed alternative views on the subject.
Eddie Keher, Kilkenny Hurling Legend, gave a great insight to his early hurling years and it is interesting to note that his father
was a Roscommon man who never played hurling. He also chose teams, of what he considered, were the
best players he played with and against during his hurling career.
After lunch, there was an open discussion with the complete panel of speakers. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh chaired the discussion and recounted stories of the great Christy Ring, Jimmy Doyle and the likes.
Certainly, the event was a great success and we hope similar events occur again in the future. Special thanks to the Trustee’s of Muckross House and the Events Manager, Toddy Doyle, for this promotional event of our National Game.