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The Story of Shinty

The area of Badenoch in the Cairngorms National Park has deep-rooted connections with the game of shinty, where the sport forms an integral part of the culture and heritage of the area. In modern times, shinty is a fast-paced, highly competitive sport, where the game continues to be at the heart of communities throughout Badenoch

Shinty Heritage and Gaelic Culture

Shinty is a spirited traditional sport utilising a curved stick and ball which is played all across Scotland but, perhaps most prominently, in the Highlands and West Coast. It is thought to have been imported to Scotland some time ago from Ireland alongside the Christian faith and Gaelic language, where its place within Irish mythology suggests that the sport has been played, in one form or another, for thousands of years: In fact, it may be one of the oldest sports still being played in existence today.

Insh Shinty Team (1892)
Insh Shinty Team (1892) – Image: Highland Folk Museum, High Life Highland

“In fact, it may be one of the oldest sports still being played in existence today.”

As a cultural activity, shinty is strongly linked with many other aspects of traditional Highland culture such as music, poetry and song. Gaelic is undoubtedly the language of shinty, where historically both players and spectators alike were native speakers from the surrounding communities. The language and etiquette on the pitch were also in Gaelic, as were the cheers from supporters on the side-lines. As a result, many of the terms now associated with the game, which are still used prominently today, are in the language.

Gaelic verse: Dain is Oran

'Camanachd gur roghadh spòrs e'Shinty is the sport of choice
Àm a' gheamhraidh is tùs an earraichIn wintertime and early spring
Mach 'san achadh 's gillean greannmhorOut in the field with lively lads
An deagh ghleus ri cluich cho annamh,In good trim to play so rarely,
Nach camanachd bu dual d'ar sinnsir,Was not shinty the custom of our ancestors?
Ag iomain bhall air Là Callainn,Playing shinty on New Year’s Day,
C'àit ’eil coimeas ris ’san Eòrpa,Where is its like in the whole of Europe?
H-uile fear cho eudmhor ealamhEvery man so zealous and swift
Dol ga dhubhlan bhuidhinn tadhail.'Meeting the challenges of visiting groups.'
- Angus Morrison, Dàin is Oran (1930) - Hugh Dan MacLennan, Shinty Dies Hard (Aberdeen University, 1998)


Discover more

Gaelic as an Asset Toolkit
Gaelic as an Asset Toolkit 
Highland Folk Museum
Highland Folk Museum 
Am Baile - Highland History & Culture
Am Baile - Highland History & Culture 

More information

Use of Images

The Cairngorms National Park Authority believe we have the owner’s permission to publish images we know are in copyright and have taken the relevant steps to credit the source of these images appropriately. However, if you think we have inadvertently used your copyright material without permission, please contact us: [email protected].

Special Thanks

With thanks to Bòrd na Gàidhlig for their funding support in order to produce ‘The Shinty Trail’ online resource.

Le taing do Bhòrd na Gàidhlig airson an taic maoineachaidh gus an goireas air-loidhne ‘Slighe na Camanachd’ a thoirt gu buil.


We welcome your feedback on your experience using the Shinty Trail. Please email [email protected] with any comments.