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A Century Before the G.A.A. – Hurling in 18th Century New York

by Familia Ulster Genealogical Review: No. 13, 1997


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by Brian McGinn

"Historical accounts of hurling in the United States generally begin with the 'American Invasion' of 1888, when 50 athletes and officials of the four-year-old Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Ireland arrived for a tour of north-eastern U.S. cities.

The grand plan to spark American interest in the ancient Gaelic game fell flat, a victim of unpublicised and poorly-attended exhibition matches. But the germ of future success was hidden in the apparent failure. Some seventeen of the athletes stayed on at the end of the tour.

The presence of these early 'illegals' - many of them hurlers­ - eventually captured the attention and admiration of the Irish in America, and helped create the momentum that led to the formal organisation of the New York GAA in December 1914.

But the history of Irish hurling in America goes back more than a century before the GAA or the American Invasion. Indeed, there is documentary proof that hurling was played in New York during the American Revolution of 1775-1783, and circumstantial evidence of the game as far back as the French and Indian War of 1756-1763."

This article looks at the history of hurling in New York, going all the way back to the French & Indian War of 1756 - 1763.