I have been an absolutely delinquent blogger! Especially with all the recent happenings. Road Bowling! Do you recall when we first moved here to Cork, and made the trek down to our local, how we met a neighborhood road bowl organizer who slipped us a ball? Well recently an All-Ireland final was held in our village! That’s right… Ireland’s King & Queen of the Roads were decided right here! And better still, my little Big was here to experience it.

Mr. Pants (I started calling him that to myself while he was here. I think I’ll keep it.) arrived from the States just a few days before the championship. He walked down every day to watch, and got some really good footage. (video to follow) I, on the other hand, was trapped in the house writing reports and only made it down to see the finals. BooHoo! Road Bowling is like nothing else! They close the road for a two mile stretch. One group plays down, then another group plays back up. The crowd gathers tightly along both sides of the road with men yelling out odds as they walk down toward the “danger zone”. (there was fierce betting going on down there) The person throwing the ball had a spotter, or coach, or someone who helped them spot the best angle for the throw. They would often pull grass from the side of the road to place on the road surface as a marker of sorts, and yell in that wonderful Cork dialect…”Come on, boy. Right here, boy.”

Each person throwing had their own style. Some had a little skip, some a hop, all fairly ran to the throw line, winding up as they went. The ball, which is solid metal and heavy (!), is thrown in the air!! And travels amazingly far! Once it hits, you better watch out if you are in the “danger zone” because it will shoot off anywhere. And at that velocity, making contact with any body part would be painful. It’s clearly a very old sport. (ALERT: overactive imagination ahead) I had fanciful images of the first bowl using small canons, and the local population making a sport of warfare. I could just see it! Some rowdy Irishman pulling grass from the fields, tossing it about, and shouting to the Anglo/Norman/British… “Come here, boy. Right here, boy.” And the befuddled enemy scratching their heads in dismay. “feckin irish!” (you were warned)

Either way, it was a wonderful glimpse at an older time, and a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. We got fresh air and plenty of exercise walking down 2 miles, then back. They had a snack truck at each end so you didn’t get too peckish. Old and young alike were out watching, cheering the athletes on. There were participants from Armagh, Cork, and the Netherlands! The Dutch were a huge presence with their orange shirts, banners and hats. If you can find a road bowl, I highly recommend spending a few hours walking the roads and cheering! It’s a place you can still experience “Old Ireland” ~ whatever that means.

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