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Life & Style

Newsreel from 1957 shows Irishmen playing the ancient game of road bowling the British tried to ban

 

Young boys enjoy a game of road bowling in an Irish country lane. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Young boys enjoy a game of road bowling in an Irish country lane. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

HAVE YOU ever heard of the Irish game of road bowling?

The traditional game is contested by participants who throw a small ball along narrow country roads.

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The energetic game, shown in the British Pathé newsreel below, has taken place for centuries in rural areas with local crowds cheering on their bowlers.

The game is still played today, with The Irish Road Bowling Association setting out the rules:

“The game is played with a 28 oz. (793.8 grams) solid iron bowl, or ball, with a circumference of approximately 18 centimetres. Two contestants match their individual skills in throwing the bowl with optimum speed along a predetermined course distance of normal roadway. The winner is the player to reach the finishing line in the least number of throws or shots.

In Ireland, numerous bowling courses exist today in counties Armagh and Cork (where the sport is most prevalent) and also in Mayo (Castlebar), Limerick, Waterford and Louth.

However, road bowling was banned by the British administration in the 18th century due to fears that crowds of Irish people gathering together would nurture dangerous revolutionary activity.

The law was never repealed, but that hasn’t stopped people around the country playing and following the sport to this day.

Watch this classic video of road bowling in 1957

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One comment on “Newsreel from 1957 shows Irishmen playing the ancient game of road bowling the British tried to ban”

  1. Boston, USA

    A game similar to Italian Bocce.

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