UNESCO recognises hurling and camogie as 'intrinsic parts of Irish culture'

UNESCO recognises hurling and camogie as 'intrinsic parts of Irish culture'

Hurling and camogie have been recognised by UNESCO as protected cultural activities.

The ancient games were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity today.

UNESCO defines 'intangible cultural heritage' as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills that communities, groups and individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage.

It is "transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity".

UNESCO says hurling is considered as "an intrinsic part of Irish culture and plays a central role in promoting health and wellbeing, inclusiveness and team spirit".

It describes it as "a field game played by two teams which dates back 2,000 years and features strongly in Irish mythology, most notably in the epic saga of Cú Chulainn".

"Today, the skills are promoted and transmitted through coaching and games in schools and clubs.

"As the custodians of Hurling, the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Camogie Association, both volunteer-led organizations, play a central role in transmitting the skills and values associated with Hurling.

A delegation from the GAA travelled to Paris in October in an effort to secure the status and the government will now commit to protecting the game and raising awareness about its importance overseas.

The games join Uileann Piping on the list of protected cultural activities from Ireland.

President Michael D Higgins welcomes UNESCO's tribute, saying it "highlights yet again that team spirit, respect for skill excellence and creativity are at the heart of Irish society".

"This decision is a global acknowledgement of the unique cultural significance of this part of our national culture, and of the important role gaelic games play in Irish society," he said.

"It is, too, a tribute to the gaelic sports associations, whose work and volunteering ethos form the beating hearts of so many communities all over the island of Ireland, and further afield, as gaelic games are now played on every continent.

We can all, on our shared island of Ireland and all of the Irish abroad, be very proud of our native sports, and of our international reputation for creativity; a reputation which is greatly enhanced by our sportswomen and men, and by the countless volunteers who have passed their love of hurling and camogie on to the future generations.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, welcomed the decision and thanked the Camogie Association and the GAA for their work on achieving this prestigious international recognition of our national game.

"For centuries, hurling has been an important part of the Irish identity, with men and women passing on this living tradition to each rising generation," she said.

"The UNESCO Representative List is intended to promote visibility, awareness and diversity in cultural heritage internationally. The inscription of Hurling is a wonderful opportunity to share a cherished aspect of Irish culture with others."

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