| Road Bowling
, Sports In Europe
Posted: 05-Jul-2007, 05:35 PM
Group: Celtic Nation
I was wondering if anyone has seen or played this amazing sport? I find it amazing. Slainte
The Sport of Road Bowling in Ireland
Courtesy of Ireland's Own Magazine
Noel Magnier fills us in on the history of a sport which has been around for a long time and is actually growing in strength in Ireland and abroad.
The game of road bowling in Ireland, North and South, can track its roots back to ancient Ulster at Eamhain Maca near Armagh, which was the historic home of the High Kings of Ireland. Further bowling lore has a reference to the Dutch Prince William of Orange, and his soldiers as having a link with the introduction of the game when he came to Ireland in 1690. Forms of the game can even be traced back to the Pharaohs of Egypt. But Andrew Steven, during his research on the Council of Europe Project “Traditional Games of Europe, East and West', traced unique references to road bowling in the North-East of England by miners with potsherd bowls across the English moors.
He also discovered in an 18th century magazine, a mention of road bowling in London, played with a skittle bowl, taking place from Surrey to London. In Ireland, Andrew Steven came across references to 'Bowling' “Long Bullets' or “Bullets” in 17 of the 32 counties.
The game in its present form began to emerge in the 17th and 18th centuries. Stone and iron bowls were used during this period. Somerville and Ross refer to both themselves “Bowling an iron ball along a road” and “a gathering of young men rolling a heavy round stone along the roads”, the common objective being to cover a certain distance in a given amount of throws.
Stone bowls were used in Mayo and Galway into this present century and the use of the modern cast iron bowl was developed from a plentiful supply available from the British Military establishments of the day. The military influence can to this day be seen in parts of Armagh and in County Mayo, where the game of bowling is still known as “Bullets” or “Long Bullets”.
So, the historical roots firmly established, we move forward two centuries and the bowl playing, or a “score of bowls” continued to grow in Ireland, mainly in Cork and Armagh, despite having no structured rules. The term “a score of bowls” meant that whichever player could throw the bowl furthest over twenty throws, was declared the winner. Then towards the end of the last century the rules of the game took shape, and in 1954 the rules were finally formalized and a controlling body established under the chairmanship of Dunmanway schoolteachers Flor Crowley at a meeting in Enniskeanne, Co.Cork. The name of the organization is Bol Chumann na h-Eireann. These initial moves signalled exciting times ahead for road bowling in Ireland. Then in the late 50’s the writings of Flor Crowley in the Cork Examiner under the pen name “Boithreach” and also in other periodicals were instrumental in introducing the game to the Continent.
Through contact with a family named Poorthuis in the Netherlands, an international governing body for bowling was established. Links were forged between Bol Chumann na hEireann and Nederlandse Klootschieters Bond (NKB), the Dutch organization, and expanded to embrace two German associations. And so the International Bowl Playing Association (I.B.A.) was founded m June 1969 in Losser in Holland. Those developments elevated the sport to international status and the first ever Irish bowling team travelled to Holland to compete in the European Championships in 1969 and the same year the first overseas branch, London, joined Bol Chumann na h-Eireann.
Staging the European Championships was the ultimate accolade to the development and organization of the game in Ireland. The European Championships have been held here on three subsequent occasions, in 1970 and in 1977 and more recently in 1992. In 1985, the first world Road Bowling championship was held in Whitechurch in Cork and the games were sponsored by “Paddy” Whiskey. Since 1963, the winners of the Ulster and Munster titles have competed for the All-Ireland Championship in the various grades.
The game is played generally with a 28oz cast iron bowl, about 58mm in diameter,
along selected public roads. Bowling is an inexpensive hobby - all that is required is a tracksuit, runners and a bowl. The rules of the game are straightforward, the basic
objective being to cover the designated course in the least amount of throws or shots of the bowl.
Bowling is a sport enjoyed by men and women, young and old, and is truly a family
sport. The strongholds of the sport are in Armagh and Tyrone in Ulster, Cork, Waterford and Limerick in Munster and Mayo in Connaught. The widening appeal of bowling is evident with the establishment of new regions in Louth and Wexford, Offaly, Kilkenny, Dublin, Kerry and Monaghan.
Overseas, the popularity of the sport is spreading; bowling is being played In Holland, Germany and now Italy where international competitions took place for the first time in May 1997. The Dutch and Germans have their own separate and distinct variations of the sport.
Next year, 2004, is the golden jubilee of the founding of Bol Chumann na h-Eireann and a year of festivities is planned with players and supporters coming together in celebration from many points around the globe, including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, London
and the U.S.A.
Noel Magnier is the author of “Is That You Boy”, a book about growing up in the Cork of the 40s and 50s.
Posted: 11-Jul-2008, 09:25 PM
Honored Clan Member
| I used to know a fellow who was trying to get it going here in the Western U.S. They were doing it on Colorado Mountain roads. It was pretty cool.
There's an association for this in Ireland, called Bol Chumann na hEireann.
They also have branches in New York and New Jersey
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