“An intrinsic part of Irish culture.”

Hurling and camogie are now protected cultural activities under UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list.

The games, among the oldest and fastest field sports in the world, were chosen by the agency after a lengthy process.

They join uilleann piping, which was added to the list last year.

UNESCO says hurling and camogie are considered an intrinsic part of Irish culture and play a central role in promoting health, wellbeing, inclusiveness and team spirit.

UNESCO describes the sports as:

“Hurling, or Camogie (a form of Hurling played by women), is a field game played by two teams which dates back 2,000 years and features strongly in Irish mythology, most notably in the epic saga of Cú Chulainn. It is played throughout the island of Ireland, particularly in more fertile agricultural areas, as well as overseas. Traditionally, the number of players in the game was unregulated and games were played across open fields.”

“Nowadays, there are fifteen players on adult teams and the game is played on a clearly marked pitch. Players use a wooden stick (hurley), similar to a hockey stick but with a flat end, and a small ball (sliotar), with the aim being to use the hurley to strike the sliotar and hit it between the opposing team’s goalposts.”

President Michael D Higgins says UNESCO’s special status is a “global acknowledgement” of our heritage as well as the role Gaelic games play in Irish society, while the GAA says it gives a boost to people in clubs across the country.

A number of other cultural practices from around the world were added to the list today, including Jamaican reggae music, a form of Korean wrestling called Ssirum/Ssireum, and joyous dancing from Malawi called Mwinoghe.