In this programme, Liam Geraghty spoke to exhibition curator Clodagh Doyle about the earliest surviving hurling balls - which are a far cry from the leather-covered sliotar.
After a year on loan to the GAA Museum, the Hair Hurling Ball Exhibition is now on display in Galway, home of the Minor Hurling Champions. This exhibition runs in the Galway City Museum until April 2016.
This National Museum of Ireland exhibition Hair Hurling Balls – Earliest Artefacts of Our National Game features 14 hurling balls made from matted cow hair, with a plaited horsehair covering.
Hurling was popularly played cross-country, on river-fields, on beaches and in bogs. However, until this research was carried for Hair Hurling Balls, very little was known about the hurling balls used throughout the country.
The Museum’s oldest-known hurley was on display. All the balls dated to the late seventeenth century or earlier. The earliest was made in the second half of the twelfth century – that’s 800 years old! The exhibition uncovers the story of each one - where they were found, how they were made, their age and how they measure up to the modern ball.
The exhibition also centres on the scientific research used to untangle the mysteries of these balls. The scientific analysis and research undertaken by the Museum showed us what goes on behind the scenes in Museums. This revealed so much more than the naked eye could see...
Munster features strongly with finds from Clare, north Kerry, west Limerick and Tipperary (One is in Cork Public Museum and one is in Kerry County Museum). There are also balls from east Sligo and the latest ball into the National Museum of Ireland collection is from north Mayo. All were found through hand-cutting turf in bogs over the past 100 years.
The popular exhibition, first presented in the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life in Turlough Park, also includes examples of hurleys from our recent past and sliotars from our hurling legends of today.
See it in the Galway City Museum until April 2016.
For more information, click here to visit the museum's website.