Thursday, March 16, 2017

Irish Road Bowling At Indian Lake Saturday

Indian Lake won’t let a little snow emergency stop them from enjoying another year of Irish Road Bowling. Since 2006, Indian Lake has been the only consistent Adirondack town to offer a traditional road bowling competition.

According to Indian Lake’s Events and Activities Coordinator Patricia Mahoney, this St. Patrick’s Day tradition is just one stop in a weekend of Adirondack fun that includes events such as a traditional parade, Mutt Strut, and a volleyball tournament .

“This year we already have 57 teams of four pre-registered for Irish Road Bowling,” says Mahoney. “There are also many people that wait to register the day of the event. We provide the bullets (iron bowling balls) and if we don’t have enough for each team, we just shuttle the bullets from the finish back to the start.”

Mahoney explains that the regulation iron bullets are expensive so they town has been slowly acquiring more each year. Since the course is only a few miles long, organizers have enough time to collect the bullets from the finishers and return to the starting line for the next wave of participants. The rules are simple with each team member taking turns and tossing the ball underhand. The winner is the team with the lowest score.

“This year we start on Bennet Road by the Highway Garage and continue to Pelon Road,” says Mahoney. “We do this event no matter what the weather. After everyone is finished we present certificates to the top three in each category. We don’t award prizes because the whole event is a fundraiser with all funds going to charity.”

Through the years the Town of Indian Lake have earmarked the Irish Road Bowling entry fees to support a variety of groups from Wounded Warriors to local personal tragedies. This year each admission will be going toward the Indian Lake Youth Commission’s summer program to allow young children the opportunity to enjoy a variety of outside activities.

“Our area has a lot to offer young people from whitewater rafting, zip-lining to guided hikes,” states Mahoney. “Some of these activities can be expensive. We focus our town summer program on outside activities and don’t want to exclude anyone from those experiences.”

Registration for Saturday’s Irish Road Bowling starts at noon at the Indian Lake Town Hall, where pre-registration forms are available. Teams walk to the start and tournament play begins at 1 pm with four categories: Men, Women, Mixed Adults (over age 16) and Family (maximum of 3 immediate family members under the age of 16 and at least one adult over the age of 18). The cost per team is $20.

Photo of Indian Lake road bowling used with the permission of Diane Chase,

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

One Response

  1. Bill Ott says:

    I was composing a comment for the above article on climate change, but it got so depressing that I realized I should instead comment on this fun article before it drops of the end of the world (page). First I figured the weight of a cast iron bowling ball (radius 8.5″) which came out at 81 pounds. These must be some tough people, so I googled the sport and learned the ball is only 3″ in diameter.
    Then I calculated that weight to be at 3.56 lbs, but the site ( tells me the bullet weighs 28oz. I also read “Irish bowling is an old Irish sport played by Irish troops in West Virginia during the American Civil War.” Methinks the ball must be hollow inside, like a civil war exploding cannon ball. Since the sport is up to 400 years old, I would not be surprised if the bullets originated from the cannon balls used in the so called 3 pounder artillery piece.

    Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, tells where Irish Road Bowling is practiced, with the largest USA events being in West Virginia where it was introduced, with 737 bowlers participating in 2016

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