Irish road bowling is an ancient sport. It is centered in Ireland (also known as IRL) - primarily in County Armagh and County Cork. However, it also has players in Boston, MA, Cambridge, NY, New Zealand (also known as NZL) and is growing in the fairs and festivals in West Virginia.
Road bowling in Ireland is governed by the voluntary Irish Road Bowling Association (or Bol Chumann na hEireann in Irish).
The basic premise is similar to golf. Participants, usually four person teams, throw a 28 ounce (800 g) bowl or "bullet" along a country road course, up to 4 km long, and the fewest throws to traverse the distance wins the contest.
Participants in or from Ireland traditionally bet during the contest.
It is a sport which suits all ages, although serious participants acquire styles and distances that casual bowlers can only imagine.
Rules and playing style Edit
A 28 ounce iron and steel cannonball the size of a tennis ball (a "bowl" or "bullet") is hurled down a country lane. The player or team with the fewest shots to the finish line wins.
A road shower stands ahead of the thrower, feet apart, to show the best line or path in the road.
The thrower runs to the throwing mark and, in the Northern or County Armagh style, extends the arm and bowl behind him as he runs. At the throwing mark the arm is snapped forward by arching the back and shoulders, releasing the bowl underhand before stepping over the mark.
In the Southern or County Cork style, as the thrower runs to the mark the arm and bowl are lifted up and back, then whirled downward into an underhand throw, releasing the bowl before stepping over the mark.
Game terminology (as used primarily in Ireland) includes:
- A Score - a match. (In the past, players were given 20 shots each, the winner determined by who went the greatest distance.)
- A Shot - a throw.
- Bowl of Odds - when one bowler is one full shot fewer than his opponent, i.e., when a bowler is equal to or farther in distance than his opponent, but has thrown one less shot.
- Bowl or Bullet - the 28-ounce (c. 800 g) small cannonball, with a circumference of 18 cm, used in Irish Road Bowling.
- Bullets or Long Bullets - the County Armagh term for road bowling.
- Butt - the throwing mark on the road. To step over the mark before releasing the bowl is to "break butt."
- Clear the Road - to get spectators out of the road in front of the thrower.
- Corner - a sharp curve in the road or a corner where two roads meet.
- Faugh a Ballach! - traditional Irish battle cry (Clear the Way!).
- Get Sight or Open the Corner - to throw so deeply into the curve that the next throw is a straight shot out.
- Kitter-Paw - a left-handed thrower.
- Loft - to throw through the air.
- Sop - a tuft of grass placed in the road at a spot where the bowl should first strike the surface. An experienced bowler can "Split the Sop."
- Stylish Bowler - a bowler with a smooth well-coordinated delivery.