Irish road bowling comes to U.S. country lanes

Great story from the Wall Street Journal about Irish road bowling gaining popularity in the U.S.

Irish Road Bowling—a low-tech cross between golf and bowling—has been played in Ireland since the 1600s. Much more recently the sport has popped up around the U.S., with fledgling clubs in North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Iowa. …But the serious rivalries belong to clubs in New York, Boston and West Virginia. Top bowlers in the U.S. vie in tournaments for limited slots to compete in the All-Ireland championships each year.

The object of the sport is to hurl a 28-ounce iron or steel ball over a 1-mile to 2-mile course. The winner is the player who covers the distances in the fewest throws.


Here are links to the Irish Road Bowling Association (Bol Chumann na hEireann) and West Virginia Irish Road Bowling.

I was surprised to learn that the cannonball rolled down the road is also called a “bullet.”

My north Kerry grandmother used to bake hard, roundish oatmeal raisin cookies that she called bullets. I always thought the self-depreciating nickname for her delicious creation referred to gun ammo. Now I believe she was recalling her youth, following the boys and the iron ball down the rural roads of Kilelton townland near Ballylongford.

Irish road bowling image by Martin Driscoll from Ten Pin Alley.