From green beer to corned beef and cabbage, some of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions in America have little connection to Ireland. Not to downplay the importance of dressing in green, parades and brined meat, but one fun tradition that has been practiced in Ireland for hundreds of years in the counties of Cork and Armagh, is the sport of Irish Road Bowling. Indian Lake has been making this part of its St. Patrick’s Day tradition since 2006.
A few years ago my family decides to claim our Irish traditions, via family in Cork and being dabblers in green beer, with an afternoon of bowling in Indian Lake. We register as a family team and are handed a “bullet,” the official 28 ounce iron ball. Though it feels less like bowling and more like bocce, the energy is infectious.
We are assigned a start time with a few other teams and alternate bowls between team members. My daughter bowls first and is instructed by people along the sidelines to run to the throwing mark (chalk line) and release the ball. The goal is to hurl the iron ball underhand without crossing the throw mark. Her ball doesn’t go that far and a mile course suddenly seems much longer. We mark her ball, pick it up and wait for the next team to throw.
Irish Road Bowling consists of teams of four to bowl an iron ball from Point A to Point B down a country road for almost a mile. The team with the least number of bowls is the winner. There are no penalties and each team alternates bowls. Though most people show up with formed teams, singles looking for a place are fit into teams as places become available.
For my family the time passes quickly. By the end of the course, we are in a nice rhythm and manage some respectable hurls. Since the goal is the lowest score, we are clearly not the winners.
To participate in this year’s March 19 Indian Lake Irish Road Bowling event, just register at the Indian Lake Town Hall at noon in one of four categories: Men, Women, Mixed Adults and Family Team. A family team may consist of one adult over the age of 18 and no more than three children under the age of 16. No streets will be closed during the Irish Bowling segment on Saturday. The cost per team is $20. Call Vonnie Liddle at the Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce at 518-648-5828 with any questions. Faugh a Ballagh!
Photo of Indian Lake Irish Road Bowling used with the permission of Diane Chase, AdirondackFamilyTime.com