The GAA has welcomed the decision to recognise the games as protected cultural activities.

The GAA has welcomed the decision to grant hurling and camogie special UNESCO status as a protected cultural activities.

Hurling is one of the oldest field games in the world and has existed for at least 3000 years in Ireland, with the first literary reference dating back to 1272 BC.

Detailing the history of hurling, the GAA note that one of the first account of the game came in the form of the myth of Cú Chullainn, Setanta was awarded that title for killing a fierce guard dog by driving a hurling ball down its throat.

Early references to the game often portray hurling as a form of martial training and proficiency on the Hurling field was equated with skill in battle.

The game was outlawed in the 12th century after the occupation by the Normans, but it was resurrected in the early 19th century and evolved to become hurley, a pursuit that became popular with the upper classes.

The GAA was founded in 1884, then followed the introduction of a formal set of rules, the game of Hurling has evolved to the game we see today.

Camogie, considered by UNESCO "a form of hurling played by women", is also protected in the new status.

By adding hurling to the list, the Government commits to keeping the game alive, ensuring respect for it and raising awareness about its importance.

The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law, and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world.

The group defines 'intangible cultural heritage' as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills that communities, groups and individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage.

In their description of Hurling - UNESCO say:

"Hurling or camogie 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," said UNESCO in its announcement.

"It is played throughout the island of Ireland, particularly in more fertile agricultural areas, as well as overseas.

"Hurling is considered as an intrinsic part of Irish culture and plays a central role in promoting health and wellbeing, inclusiveness and team spirit," it added.