Clash of the Ash

Torpey Hurleys (IE)

Ash Dieback, a chronic fungal disease first found in Ireland in 2012, poses a fatal threat to ash trees. Hurling and Camogie, two of the most popular Irish sports administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), use wooden ash sticks. Hurley sticks have been made from ash trees by craftsmen since before the recorded history of Ireland. Today, almost half a million hurleys are produced in Ireland each year. The GAA has approved a wood-free, synthetic hurley but can the cultural and ecological heritage of hurling be preserved in an age of globalised pathogens?

Scientists are attempting to breed disease-resistant trees through hybridisation,backcrossing and genetic modification, as well as isolating endophytes that might protect the trees against pathogens, which raises the question: Should we attempt to repair or replace our threatened species?

For FIELD TEST, Torpey Hurleys have carefully crafted one of their own hurleys, along with a hurley made from diseased ash wood.


With a heritage in the craft of hurley making dating back to the 1930s, Torpey Hurleys established itself as a premium hurley making business in 1981. For the past thirty-five years they have enjoyed making hurleys for some of the most renowned players in the sport of hurling. With a focus on performance, 'Use the best materials to make the best performing products' is their philosophy. This has lead to some high profile customers experiencing a ‘Torpey’, including US President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell, and golfing superstar Rory McIlroy.

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