The ancient sport of Irish Road Bowling is played on public roads throughout West Cork, offering boisterous competition, cheering fans and shouting wagers. Travelers who happen upon an Irish Road Bowling game sometimes feel that they’ve stepped into an alternate universe. But can be quickly filled in by a number of onlookers.
The game is similar to golf only the “bullet” is lofted towards a finish line. The player or team with the fewest shots wins the game. The iron ball used is the size of a tennis ball, weighing 1.75 pounds.With distances along country roads being up to 4 km, great skill is used to loft bullets around tight curves and negotiate gradients.
Irish Road Bowling has been played throughout Ireland longer than anyone can remember. History suggests that Irish Road Bowling was once more widespread than it is today with games being played in Scotland, the north of England and in North America up until the 19th century. Today, Irish Road Bowling is being reintroduced into the Irish communities throughout the world but most games can be viewed only in County Cork and in the extreme north of Ireland in County Armagh. Both areas have their own unique styles of game.
As the game is played on public roads (usually secondary), it is advised when approaching a host of men on either side of the road, shouting and peering intently to pull over and follow any advice given.
Irish Road Bowling is quite an exciting sport with bets on both sides, inciting shouting and wagers often giving advice to the bowlers. The event can be quite a spectacle and one really good way to learn more about the history of Irish sport.
If Irish Sports is your fancy, you can also check out the GAA Museum and Croke Park in Dublin. Croke Park is somewhat famous among Americans for the 1996 Notre Dame v Navy game and is the suggested host for the upcoming 2012 Notre Dame v Navy rematch. Learn more about this exciting Irish sporting event at Celtic Tours.