This is the only one-volume history of Ireland’s most distinctive sport. The book traces the mythological origins of hurling in the Irish annals, summarises its variable progress in medieval and early modern times, and focuses on the golden age of the pre-codifies game in the eighteenth century.

The bulk of the book is devoted to the last hundred years or so since the foundation of the G.A.A. in 1884. Starting with the emergence of the famous Cork-Tipperary rivalry, it notes the arrival of the game’s third ‘big power’, Kilkenny, in the early years of the twentieth century.

The dominance of these three counties was unshaken for generations, despite the great teams produced by Limerick in the 1930s and ‘40s and by Wexford in the 1950s. But the period since 1980 has seen the emergence of Galway, Offaly and – in 1995 – Clare as major forces in the modern game.

The book also deals with tributary issues such as the geography of hurling, the rules of the game and hurling styles. It covers minor, junior and schools hurling and has a substantial statistical section.

Generously illustrated with sixty-four pages of photographs – some of them very rare – this is the essential modern survey of Ireland’s ancient game.


Hardcover: 355 pages
ISBN: 0-7171 2190 2
Published: 1996
Publisher: Gill & Macmillan
Availability: Available in most good bookstores
Links: Official GAA Website
  Overview of Hurling
  Lar na Pairce / Tipperary GAA Shop

Review of "A History of Hurling" by Rev Seamus Ryan, P.P. Ballyfermot (former Limerick and Cappamore Hurler) Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1997 (pp 126-128) article in full


Praise for "A History of Hurling"

‘Seamus King in 355 pages has encapsulated so well and in such a readable fashion, his own feeling for the game he loves so well and the great eras, the great teams, the great personalities, come leaping out at us from the pages in a refreshing and inviting manner.’

‘The treasure of this book is in the material not extant in living memory. Calamities like the Famine and the American Invasion marked the ebb and flow of the game’s development. King has gathered in the testimony from a huge variety of sources.

‘The excellence of the research throughout is matched by the digging which has produced some memorable photographs. . . .’

‘The History of Hurling stands as a fitting tribute to Ireland’s national game.’

‘It is a tremendous effort, showing minute attention to detail and research, and the combined application produces a most authoritative read on the game of hurling.’

‘This is a book that advertises diligent research and love of subject on every page.’

‘A History of Hurling is an important work and valuable addition to hurling literature. You will read it for pleasure and information. You will keep is as a book of reference. It is to be recommended.’


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