“He who works with his hands is a labourer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.”
When Master Craftsman John Torpey first learned the craft of hurley making from his Uncle ‘Pop’ Torpey it was a much slower process than what it is today. When John first started making hurleys for the local hurling communities he used only hand tools and small-scale equipment. However, to meet the demands of the modern player John decided to invest in automated machinery to ensure a more consistent product could be produced. Today, Torpeys employ a number of specially skilled people to help craft the finest hurleys, such as a Forester, a Sawmiller, a Chief Marker, Band Saw Operators, Sanders, and Quality Control Craftsmen. It may be hard to believe, but before a Torpey hurley can send a sliotar rasping through the air on a hurling field it must take an 18-month long journey from the forest. The first step to producing a quality Torpey hurley is getting the best material to make the hurley from. Torpeys’ Master Craftsman walks through forests multiple times a year to identify the best ash trees that will give the highest quality hurley – and with over 50 years’ experience the Torpey eye for quality is 20:20!
One of the most important quality checks done at Torpeys is the selection of the raw material, as it must have the characteristics necessary to make a great hurley, such as flexibility and a curved grain at the base of the plank. As there is not enough high-quality ash currently grown in Ireland to meet the demand at Torpeys, we source our premium ash in The Netherlands where the growing conditions are ideal for producing strong and flexible ash. However, the ash tree is now under threat due to a fungal disease, Ash Dieback, which is attacking the tree. As the fungal disease spreads through forests across Europe the high-quality ash is becoming a scarce material, which means the cost of ash is increasing every year and the hurley is now a more expensive product to supply. However, at Torpeys we are innovators as well as being craftsmen and we are passionate about ensuring the game is accessible to all and that participation remains high despite the challenges the ash disease brings. Torpeys’ mission is to diversify our product range so that our products reflect the diverse needs of our customer base, and that our products reflect value and quality at every player level. Stay tuned to hear about exciting hurley innovations that are coming to the Torpey Brand Store!