‘Lovely hurling’ and Unesco


Sir, – Your editorial on the addition of the sports of hurling and camogie to the Unesco Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (“Lovely Hurling”, December 1st ) was disappointing and a bit mean-spirited.

The list includes expressions of human culture from around the world, some with global reach and some with significance only for the communities that practice them. The latter, as unique expressions of human genius, are no less deserving of inscription than the former, just as seed-banks include the germs of grasses as well as of oaks.

You could not resist a jibing reference to hurling rubbing shoulders with trivial activities. This was also the reaction of the begrudgers last year when Ireland first had an element – uilleann piping – accepted for inscription on the list. Then the belittlers fastened on the fact that it had been approved in the same session that approved the art of Neapolitan pizza-making, but ignored the fact that the great German tradition of organ-building and organ music, and other significant practices, had also been approved.

In a similar vein, in response to this year’s inductions, and in a manner astonishingly redolent of the sneering articles of Boris Johnson, you highlight the most trivial or odd-sounding approved elements for – what? A cheap laugh?

It is a pity you did not place the approval of hurling alongside the huge human achievements, also approved, of Jamaican reggae, the astonishing perfume industry of Grasse, or the sports of wrestling in Korea and in Georgia. Hurling is a world-class sport, and the fact that it now has recognition as part of humanity’s heritage should be a source of unalloyed pride. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 12.