Described as 'aerial rugby', hurling almost certainly began as a pagan fertility rite, heralding the coming of Spring by the casting up of a silver ball in honour of the sun.
With the coming of Christianity it became a game and the St. Columb Green Book, (parish records) contains the following entry of great historical significance, '1594 John Menheere owith for a silver ball dd to Tobye at his instance and upon his word xs' (ten shillings!).
Hurling is fast, exciting and seemingly rather rough. The town's streets and alleyways and the surrounding countryside are all places where the ball can be carried on the afternoon of Shrove Tuesday (starting at 4.30) with a second game at the same time on the following Saturday week.
2001 was an unique year as it saw the first ever postponement of the hurling on the Shrove Tuesday, when town and country folk alike came to an agreement not to stage the hurl due to the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic.
Come to St. Columb at Shrovetide and see this ancient game for yourselves and drink 'silver beer' afterwards in all the town's pubs!