Top hurley maker lauds GAA and farming bonds

grassroots diary claire Mc Cormack Email:

Juggling farm life with club or inter-county GAA commitments is no easy feat.

For decades, many hurlers, footballers and camogie players across the countryside have balanced intense training sessions and matches around busy silage, milking and calving seasons.

From arriving on the pitch wrecked tired from a long day harvesting or making hay, to rushing home afterwards to check on a heavily in-calf heifer, the connections between agriculture and the GAA remain deeply rooted.

Last weekend, Seosamh Breathnach, a master craftsman hurley maker, celebrated those intrinsic ties during a hurling making demonstration at Agri Aware's Family Farm in Dublin Zoo.

After spending many years working on a big business farm in Birr, Co Offaly while simultaneously playing hurling for a local GAA club, Mr Breathnach knows just how far players dig to fully commit to both fields.

"It's a constant juggling act. During the summer lads are flat out at the silage and in calving season trainers try to organise sessions early in the evening so lads can go back and check cows before bedtime," he said.

"When I was working in Birr and playing with Carrig/Riverstown GAA club, I'd be down in the parlour all evening then run up to the house, grab the gear bag, head out to training and be back to check on things later," he said. Despite the constant responsibility involved, he loved every minute. Like many farming GAA players, Mr Breathnach thrives on working with his hands. And so six years ago he set up his own hurling making business in Glasnevin, Dublin.

"I always wanted to do something with my hands, something practical. I started out fixing my own hurleys when I was 16 and then more lads on my hurling team asked me to fix theirs too. It started as a hobby but now it's my job," he said.

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Mr Breathnach who repairs hurleys for top inter-county stars, including Meath's Sean Geraghty and Dublin's Chris Crummey, dazzled spectators with his ability to saw, sand and shave raw ash into potentially All-Ireland winning sliotar hitting sticks at the Family Farm event.

"Ultimately they are finished by hand and cut by eye, it's really an ancient art form and a tradition worth passing on just as farming has been handed down for generations," he said.

Elsewhere around the country, strong crowds attended the Athlone Agricultural Show last weekend. Main attractions included show horses and ponies, pedigree cattle and goats and sheep dog trials. Visitors also enjoyed the "Made in the Midlands Food Village".

Hundreds are expected at this Sunday's jam packed Clonmel Agricultural Show which promises to be another huge summer success.

Indo Farming

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