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Feb 8

(1st Monday after Feb 3)

Hurling the Silver Ball

St. Ia (Eia, Ives) is the patron saint of St. Ives, Cornwall. She was one of a group of Celtic missionary saints believed to have reached the south-western tip of England miraculously by crossing the Irish Sea in a millstone boat. They made a safe landing at the place where St. Ives now stands, and there are parishes and churches throughout Cornwall named after them.


The town of St. Ives celebrates Feast Monday, the day after the Feast of St. Ia (February 3), by playing an ancient game known as hurling. In this case the ball is made of cork encased in silver. The mayor begins the game by tossing the silver ball against the side of the parish church, which is dedicated to St. Ia. Children then take over, tossing the ball back and forth in what might be described as a kind of early football.