Getting to the root of making the best hurley

A FILM documenting the process of hurley making – from the first seeds all the way to Croke Park – features several Kilkenny faces, and one of those involved will be giving a talk about the art of hurley making later this month in the Hole in the Wall.

A FILM documenting the process of hurley making – from the first seeds all the way to Croke Park – features several Kilkenny faces, and one of those involved will be giving a talk about the art of hurley making later this month in the Hole in the Wall.

From Ash to Clash: The Art of Hurley Making is a 26-minute film produced by the GAA, Teagasc and the Irish Guild of Ash Hurley Makers. Teagasc forest development officer Michael Somers will be giving a lecture about the film and the hurley-making process on January 22.

The film details the process of what makes each hurley unique, including– “the balance of the hurl, the run of the grain, the width of the bás, the grip.”

In addition to Coon man Michael Somers, the film has appearances by St Martin’s players Thomas Breen and Bryan Byrne, and local hurley makers Tom O’Donahue, Bryan Dowling and Aiden Falkner were also involved in the film. A forest in Castlemorris in South Kilkenny also features.

The story follows the soil and landscape involved in providing an ideal space for ash trees to grow, the best form of the trees themselves, and how their lower 1.3 metres is crafted into hurleys. The best trees, it notes, are those that provide the highest amount of senior-grade hurleys in addition to high-quality wood from the upper portion of the tree.

“Some of the hurley makers say you give birth to a hurl – you don’t actually make it, you give birth to it” says hurley maker Pat Cullen. It also shows how the trees themselves “give birth” to the next generation of ash. One of the examples is a tree selected in a Kilkenny forest that will be a potential mother tree for other forests – with the father tree sourced in Tipperary.

The film is set to be played at the GAA Museum in Croke Park and can be seen on the three organisations’ websites and on YouTube.