Hurley or a hurl? The great debate rages once more

What do you think the correct name is to call the ash stick used to play hurling with?

 

Ned Monaghan, originally from Co Cork and living in Connecticut in the United States, has reignited a debate across Ireland and among GAA across the globe this week on what is the correct name for the ash stick used to play hurling with? Monaghan is adamant the correct name is hurley and wants to explain why, however, many others disagree.

The Irish Times published my letter about hurleys and hurls this week and I really need to say a little more. Here is the original letter:

“I was born and reared in Co Cork and when we went out to play, after school and before the tea, we went hurling.And we used our hurleys to do that.

Yet we will all be familiar, I assume, with the words of the song Bould Thady Quill, who as I remember, ‘Hurled the ball right and left in their faces’.

To do that, he used a hurley, not a hurl. Hurl is a verb, not a noun.

I just read a fine article in this paper about a fine man who, they said, made hurls. He did not. He made hurleys.

This is finally off my chest. I truly hope that I will never again see hurleys called hurls. If this trend continues donkeys will be soon be called donks.” (The debate is continuing on the Letters page).

I am from Kildorrery in north Cork, the village where after school every day we went hurling in the field known as the Paircin and set it up with goalposts of sweaters before we picked the teams. Then we hurled until we were called for tea. There were no parents no coaches, no TV and no smartphones.

Where are you from and do you say hurl or hurley?

Hurling and football were a major part of my upbringing however, I have some regrets at not having tried my best at both, especially hurling. Speed and skill are not enough you must also give it your best. A life lesson maybe?

I came to the US in 1966 where there was no hurling but I fortunately discovered squash and for the last 40 years I did my best. Modesty prevents me from mentioning my current national ranking.

I have always loved hurling though and am truly delighted that it is booming. I was there for the great final between Cork and Clare a few years ago. Twas magic.

The other eight members of the family Whatsapp told me that my letter has generated an amazing response in Ireland. It’s hard to say why it generated such a reaction. Maybe it’s to do with all of us resenting any change in something we thought was fixed forever. Like what we called that ash stick when we were kids. Of course it is a hurley. Of course it is a hurl. It always was. It always will be.

That we all can have a discussion on what is really an unimportant issue I see as a very positive indicator of the quality of Irish society. The issue may generate a few friendships but it certainly will not generate any enmity.

Here on the wall beside me I have a Cuala Press print of The Hurley Player by Winifred M Letts.

“When you are old she said, grown old and grey

I laughed to hear her say it, till the cold

Strange thought came afterwards: you will be old

Someday and give your hurley stick away

For someone else to play”

So we can all see Letts agrees with me.

And as I said, we cannot forget Mr Thady Quill, who in hurling the ball right and left in their faces seems to be on my side too.

There we are. I wish the best to all those who call it correctly a hurley. And I also wish the best to all those who call it incorrectly a hurl.

If you are reading this in the Irish Times app, click here to contribute if you think the correct name is hurley or hurl 

Tipperary’s Brendan Maher and Wexford’s Lee Chin at the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi final, Croke Park. Tipperary won and will mee Kilkenny in the final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Tipperary’s Brendan Maher and Wexford’s Lee Chin at the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi final, Croke Park. Tipperary won and will mee Kilkenny in the final. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly and Richie English of Limerick in the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Kilkenny’s Colin Fennelly and Richie English of Limerick in the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
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