10 Aug 2022

Nine year Kilkenny campaign to make hurling and camogie protected globally ends in success

Minister John Paul Phelan's initiative

Hurling magic

Iconic photo of the hurleys belonging to St Kieran's College, Kilkenny students outside St Patrick's Church, Kilkenny

Hurling fanatic and Junior Minister, John Paul Phelan, TD, is delighted that a campaign he began almost a decade ago to give hurling and camogie coveted world status has finally borne fruit.

The Kilkeny-based TD wrote to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the immediate aftermath of his unsuccessful European Election campaign in 1999 and suggested the national games included on its coveted list of intangible cultural heritage.

“I’m delighted that the campaign I initiated and which Heather Humphreys, Josepha Madigan and the Department subsequently backed has succeeded.

“Those of us who love the sport tend to take it for granted just a little bit. But anyone from outside of Ireland that I’ve ever brought to a hurling or a camogie game is stunned by the speed of the game, the skill level and the fact that they are voluntary codes.

“The idea came to me when I was staying with a friend in Spain after the European Election defeat. A form of human pyramid making, Castellers, was added to the list at the same time. It was extremely popular in the Catalonia region. Everyone was delighted. I thought… why not do the same for Camogie and Hurling? As soon as I came back, I put in the bid.”

Already on the UNESCO heritage hot-list are cultural gems such as the Samba in Brazil; the Carnival of Binche in Belgium and the Sardinian Pastoral Songs of Italy.

“A key benefit of ratification, particularly for developing countries, is access to the World Heritage Fund. Sites or activities on the list are a magnet for international cooperation and may thus receive financial assistance for heritage conservation projects from a variety of sources.

“Being on the list also brings an increase in public awareness of the site or activity, and of its outstanding values, thus also increasing potential tourist spin-off for Ireland. I congratulate everyone who has been involved in this long-running campaign. While hurling and camogie are a religion for many of us in Ireland, this elevated status will help the game globally," Minister Phelan concluded.

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