I’m not sure if it’s the Irish in me or the fact that I’m intrigued by old-fashioned games, but Irish Road Bowling hits the mark.
Though it has a bit of a convoluted history on whether the game originated with the Dutch in Ireland or Irish patriots, road bowling has been a rural sport in Ireland since the 1600s. It remains somewhat popular in Ireland with an internationally recognized governing body.
International competition may be happening elsewhere, but Indian Lake has brought road bowling back to its humble beginnings. The friendly March 14 competition allows visitors and the community of Indian Lake to celebrate the Irish tradition of road bowling no matter the weather. Since 2006, Indian Lake has consistently offered the traditional roadside competition through the side streets of Indian Lake. It’s a tradition that is just as much fun to watch as it is to play.
If you can pull a team together, the rules aren’t complicated. Teams of four bowl an official 28 oz. iron ball called a “bullet” in an underhand motion 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 team can usually find one.
Spectators are welcome, but learning a few road bowling terms can be helpful. The start is designated by a chalk line called a dash or butt so participants have to be careful not the “break the butt,” which simply means they’ve crossed the line. Participants will “hurl” the “bullet” by a running start while releasing the “grip” or hold on the ball.
Registration starts at 10 am on Saturday, March 14 at the Indian Lake Town Hall on Pelon Road. Pre-registration is recommended with teams accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Teams will walk to the start and tournament play begins at noon. There are four categories: Men, Women, and Mixed Division. The cost per team of four is $20. Call 518-648-5885 for more information.