If you have ever wondered what it would be like to pick up a hurl and strike a sliotar into the back of the goal at Nowlan Park then take the Kilkenny Way.
The Kikenny Way tour was devised by PJ Lanigan of Lanigans on RoseInn Street and is informative, energetic and plenty of fun.
Starting off at Lanigans pub on Rose Inn Street hurls and sliotars are doled out to participants and the group is brought over John’s Bridge in the direction of the hurling Mecca that is Nowlan Park.
Jim Croke, who hurled with Slieverue for 22 years told the group who consisted mainly of Americans and Canadians that in Kilkenny kids usually start playing hurling at the age of four and he explained how passionate Kilkenny supporters are. “In 2010 over 45,0000 supporters came out to welcome home the team after they lost their Drive for Five,” he said.
Jim also explains how the Cats got their name. “In 1798 German soldiers were sent to assist the British and to quell the rebellion. For sport they used to tie two cats by their tails and hang them with a piece of rope until one of them killed the other. The hurlers got the name because they are as ruthless as those cats.” He also pointed out the Hurler on the Ditch above the door of Langtons. “This is the man who knows everything about hurling even though he has never held a hurl. He can be important though as you never know what ideas he has,” he added. As we make our way to Nowlan Park we pass St John’s Church and Jim points out that some of the quickest Masses are said on the morning of an All Ireland final as there is a mass exodus from the church in the direction of Croke Park. The Park is in lockdown as players are in training for their quarter final clash and we go to O’Loughlin Gaels where for over an hour I am put through the paces and shown how to solo run, strike, jab lift, block and tackle before returning to Lanigans for a well-earned lunch.