Top hurley maker goes Dutch for ash supply

A hurley
A hurley
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The future supply of ash for hurleys is a "huge worry", the man who supplied most of the All-Ireland winning Clare team of 2013 has warned.

John Torpey, of Torpey Hurleys, said 20,000 of his own trees in Sixmilebridge were diagnosed with ash dieback five years ago and although he had always sourced some of his ash from the Netherlands, he now imports the majority of it from there in order to meet demand.

"It spread like wildfire. It was a huge concern for us. I had already contracted a farmer in Holland to supply ash. We increased this and were able to survive. I was really lucky.

"We import 6,000 planks from Holland. It's the best quality ash and is working very well. We had to do something to ensure we could supply. It's a huge worry for the industry," says the 78-year-old, who was a member of the Wicklow team that won a Junior All-Ireland title in 1967. However, TJ Larkin of Larkin Hurls in Killimor, Co Galway, continues to source his ash locally and from neighbouring counties Offaly and Tipperary.

He has been able to buy ash from plantations free from Ash dieback and feels that supply is more plentiful than ever as farmers are keen to offload trees in case they get infected.

"We're knocking trees as we speak for the 10,000 hurleys we make each year. Farmers are really willing to sell which is good for us. I don't see there being a shortage of ash for us for at least for another 10 years."

"The weather is great for us knocking at the moment, compared to this time last year when there was snow and floods. We'll knock about 500 trees ,which are aged between 25-30 years."

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