Celtic sports

The Celts have invented many games in history; competition is one of the oldest traditions in Ireland and Scotland, but also in Brittany. That is why we could not miss out on this subject in our July – August edition entirely devoted to the Celts with the Interceltic Festival of Lorient as the pivotal moment.

Rugby is very widespread in Ireland, where there are four significant clubs: Munster, Leinster, Connaught, and Ulster; not to mention the national team, which has returned to an excellent level in recent years (it should be noted that the two Ireland are united under the same jersey). It is the same in Scotland and Wales with the opportunity to compete in the 6 Nations tournament, but on the other hand rugby is little present in Brittany and non-existent in Galicia and Asturias.

Apart from these two well-known sports, some sports are almost unknown in France and abroad, such as hurling. This sport played in Ireland is one of the oldest since a manuscript dated 1272 BC (or 3274 years!) describes the match that took place before the Battle of Moytura. According to legend, the mythical hero Cù-Chulainn alone defeated 150 opponents in a game of hurling. This sport has the characteristic of being reserved for amateurs only. The howling is played with a small ball and a stick, and the goal is to pass the ball either between the two posts and over the bar or between the posts and under the bar. The two teams consist of 15 players each, and the female version is called ” camogie.” Hurling is, without doubt, one of the fastest sports in the world but also one of the most violent (less so than American football).

The other sport resembling hurling is Gaelic football, whose rules are almost identical (same rules for scoring and the same number of players) with the difference that one plays with a ground ball that one can take hands or feet. Golf is also a must in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, it is a real passion and is not the preserve of a minority. The grounds are numerous and are located in a dream setting. The best known is undoubtedly that of St. Andrew in Scotland. However, it is less common in other Celtic countries.

Due to the proximity of the sea, sailing is a sport very practiced in all Celtic countries and especially in Brittany which is a land of famous sailors (Tabarly, Kersauzon, Gautier,) and ports very known for racing as the Trinity on Sea, Lorient, Bénodet… it is however in Ireland that one finds the oldest Sailing club in the world namely the Royal Cork Yacht Club founded in 1720. There are also the courage races, those rowing boats already used by the Celts several centuries before our era.