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Our hurling heritage

Laurence,Nicola, Tomás and Micheál on top of Sliabh Coillte. Feb.5th 2005

The following is an extract from the Folklore of Co.Wexford collected by Bridget Nash of Nash,Cassagh,a pupil in Gusserane NS in 1938. She collected it from Martin Doyle of the same address. It shows that hurling was played in Horeswood before the GAA was started in 1884. There was a famous hurling green near the summit of Sliabh Coillte around the year 1880. There was no road to the viewing point back then and both players and spectators had to climb to the playing green.
'Long ago hurling matches were played on top of Slieve Coillte mountain, the nearest mountain to where I live. All townlands and parish matches were finished there. The top of the mountain is level and at each end of the playground they used have a long thin sally with both ends stuck down in the ground. It took the shape of a loop and when the ball passed through it, it was counted a score. At each side of the loop there was a man to see if the ball went through and when it did he raised a green flag. All lookers-on would know it was a score. There was also a referee out among the players. Hurleys were made of ash in different shapes and sizes to suit the players. The local carpenters made them. The number of men in each team was seventeen. A match often lasted two and a half hours. The players wore nothing only a shirt and trousers and they wore nothing on their feet. The hurling balls were all made by shoemakers. This type of game died out in most of Ireland in the nineteenth century due mainly to the landlords' loss of interest.
   Long ago football and hurling were played in a different way to what they are played to-day. Instead of playing from goal to goal as they do nowadays they played from ditch to ditch. Thirty years ago one of the roughest matches of the day was played in Foulksmills between a team from Taghmon and another from Campile. The match which lasted for two and a half hours was  supposed to be the roughest ever played in the district. They fought and hurt each other until there was only two men left on the field, Campile taking the victory by four "overs" to three'.  

Hurling on Sliabh Coillte around 1958:
Back: Paddy Grennan, Dick Crosbie, Noel Culleton.
Front: Ray Culleton,Bill Murphy, Tommy Grennan, Michael Murphy.

Another story concerns an incident which occurred in the 1880's. On one occasion a local team was fixed to play a Cork team. The landlord in the Ballykelly area at the time was a Captain Gifford and a native of Cork. Jimmy Quinn was the star player on the local team and Gifford dispatched him on foot to Dublin with a letter the day before the game. Jimmy managed to make the return trip, much to the surprise Captain Gifford, and to help his team beat their Cork opponents.
The Rev. Thomas Handcock,Church of Ireland Rector for Whitechurch and Kilmokea,wrote in 1816 about the people of the present day Horeswood parish: "The lower classes are uncommonly fond of dancing and the young men of ball playing: for these amusements they assemble in multitudes in the evenings of Sundays and Holydays and no instance of disorder has ever known to occur on these occasions"

Two Hurling Greats from Horeswood

This is a picture of the Wexford All Ireland hurling team from 1955 and has two Horeswood men on it.
Back row left to right: K.Sheehan (trainer), P.Kehoe, J.Morrissey, M.Codd, N.Rackard, T. Ryan, T.Bolger, O.Gough, W.Wickham, M.Hanlon, T.Dixon, H.O'Connor, E.Wheeler. Front row (left to right): T.Flood, B.Rackard, J.English, P.Kehoe, M Morrissey, N. O'Donnell (capt.) A Foley, C.Casey, W.Rackard, D. Hearne, S.Bluett, P.Hayes.
Mick O'Hanlon won two All Ireland medals in 1955 and 56 and four Leinster medals. Dominic Hearne won an All Ireland medal in 1955 and three Leinster medals.

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