Irish Road Bowling

Unusual traditions thrive in Southern West Virginia.

You’ve heard the expression “anything goes,” right? In Irish road bowling, it’s true! With our cultural roots, unspoiled scenery and long stretches of quiet country lanes, it’s no wonder that this eccentric sport is a natural fit here.

See why  “long bullet” fans flock to our neck of the woods:

About the Game

Road bowling is about as simple as a game can get. It’s also pretty old. About 300 years ago, 2 competitive Irishmen rolled cannonballs down a lane. Whoever used the least tosses from beginning to end won.

Spectators would linger for hours, have a picnic lunch and make idle bets. Though it was never as popular as other sports, it was common in Ireland and abroad until the 1950’s.

Irish Road Bowling Today

Fortunately, Irish road bowling survived in little Irish and American enclaves. Players still throw metal “bowls” down 1-2 miles of country road. Spectators are just as keen, too— onlookers shout and hoot.

Anything can happen when a ball rolls, and the suspense will keep you riveted. The best players have powerful throws and know how to judge a road. But luck— and a passing car— do play a role.

Irish Road Bowling—American Style

Southern West Virginia has just about everything you need to get the “bowl” rolling: natural scenery, plenty of roads and a sense of whimsy. Combine these with springtime weather, and you have an excellent excuse to have some fun.

The West Virginia Irish Road Bowling Association will play at Pipestem Resort State Park on April 16-17, with  events like Women’s and Men’s Singles Qualifiers, Team Bowling and Fun Bowling.

Have you ever seen a game of Irish road bowling?