ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S leading hurley manufacturers who are located in Co Clare remain optimistic about its future despite concerns over ash supplies which led to the recent closure of Canning Hurleys Ltd.
By Cian Ó Muíneacháin
Portumna based, Canning Hurleys had been supplying some of the top hurlers in the country with high quality ash for over a decade closed its operation on March 31, citing “supply chain issues” as a result of rampant ash dieback, a chronic fungal disease of ash trees in Europe and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Seán Torpey of TORPEY, Sixmilebridge, admitted his disappointment at the closure, telling The Clare Echo, “We don’t like to see other competitors going out of business through ash dieback disease.” Mr Torpey, who employs 10 people, explained that “hurley making is quite a small cottage industry” and he is eager for relevant jobs to remain in Ireland.
Business remains strong for the Torpey family, who launched their Bambú hurley during the global pandemic, a move which Seán notes “has been quite a phenomenal success for us so far”. He explained that the Bambú hurley is more durable and generates more striking distance.
Admitting that inflation has affected manufacturing costs in recent years, particularly up to a 40 per cent increase in ash prices, Seán is confident that ash will remain a staple on their production line for the foreseeable future. “I don’t think [players who prefer ash hurleys] are going to be out of luck. They’re going to be able to go to a game next weekend and still use an ash hurley”.
“What I would say is that they would notice that the hurleys may get heavier. With ash dieback, the younger trees are the ones that die first so all that you are left with is older trees and with older trees that ash can be a little bit heavier because it’s denser. These are little things that players maybe didn’t notice up until now”.