Hurling is one of the fastest and most skilful field games in the world. It is an ancient Gaelic sport, played long before the coming of Christianity. The earliest written record of the game is contained in the Brehon Laws of the fifth century. The first great hurling hero was Setanta whose legendary adventures are known to most Irish children. The game was banned by the Statutes of Kilkenny because of its popularity with the Normans.
The 18th century was known as the 'golden age' of hurling. Landlords promoted the game; inter-barony and inter-county games were played. These matches were very well organised; teams lined out in set positions (21 a-side) and the behaviour of each player was controlled by a strict code of honour. Events from 1790 to 1800 caused the gentry to withdraw their support for the game of hurling. This, together with the effects of the Great Famine, severely damaged the development of the game.
A successful revival of hurling commenced in 1884 with the founding of the G.A.A. The Gaelic games are organised on a local level - the parish being the basic unit of organisation. Hence, the national games have become interwined with community spirit and local pride.