Cornish Hurling

Cornish is one of the 2 major traditional sports of Cornwall. Hurling is in its essence a mob football game played between large numbers of men and often between parishes. There were two traditional forms of the game played in Cornwall. Firstly, hurling to Country which seems to the original game was played between 2 parishes the winner being the team that takes it out of one of the parishes or into his own. Hurling to goal the second version was were hurlers would attempt to reach a goal on a pitch sized about the same as a modern football field. Richard Carew in his survey of Cornwall

“That the hurler must deal no foreball, or throw it to any partner standing nearer the goal than himself. In dealing the ball, if any of the adverse party can catch it flying … the property of it is thereby transferred to the catching party; and so assailants become defendants, and defendant assailants.”

The parishes around Newquay and Penzance were particular hotspots historically for the game which was often violent and sometimes ended in deaths.

The game survives in 3 communities, firstly St Ives where a children’s game is held on feast Monday in February, St Columb Major where a full hurling game is held and Bodmin where a small hurling game is held every five years. The St Columb game is far more similar to the original played widely across Cornwall and is played between 2 sides “town” and “Country”. Hurling balls are in several local museums including Penlee House in Penzance where they used to form part of the civic regalia of the town.

A video of one of the 2013 Hurling games at St Columb.

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