Irish Road Bowling – Lawrence Journal World, LJWorld.com

Before hurling, rugby, and even golf there was…Irish Road Bowling.

About Irish Road Bowling

Road bowling is an Irish sport in which competitors attempt to take the fewest throws to send a metal ball along a predetermined course of country roads. The sport originated in Ireland and is mainly played in Counties Armagh and Cork. Spectators often bet on the outcome over a pint and debate as to who the better player is. The score is held on a course of country lanes of a mile or more.

Rules and Playing Style

The “bowl” or “bullet” is an iron and steel cannonball 7 in around and 28 ounces in weight. There are two or more players or teams in a “score”. The one with the fewest shots to the finish line wins. If two players or teams approach the finish line with equal shots, the winner is decided by which throw goes farther past the finish line.

A road shower advises the thrower about the throw (or shot) much like a golf caddy, while another helper stands ahead of the thrower, feet apart, to show the best line or path in the road.

The thrower runs to the throwing mark and, in the Northern or County Armagh style, extends the arm and bowl behind him as he runs. At the throwing mark the arm is snapped forward by arching the back and shoulders, releasing the bowl underhand before stepping over the mark.

In the Southern or County Cork style, as the thrower runs to the mark the arm and bowl are lifted up and back, then whirled downward into an underhand throw, releasing the bowl before stepping over the mark.

Wherever the bowl stops (not where it leaves the road surface), a chalk mark is made at the nearest point on the road and the next throw is taken from behind that mark.

Over tight curves, or corners where two roads meet, the bowl may be thrown through the air (lofted). The loft must strike the road or pass over it. If the loft fails to reach the road, it counts as one shot, and the next throw must be taken again from the same mark.


Bowl of Odds: when one bowler is one full shot fewer than his opponent, i.e., when a bowler is equal to or farther in distance than his opponent, but has thrown one less shot.

Break Butt: To step over the butt before releasing the bowl

Bullet: The bowl that is thrown or “shot”

Bullets: County Armagh name for the game of road bowling. Also long bullets. See also bullet.

Butt: The throwing mark on the road. See also break butt

Corner: A sharp curve in the road or a corner where two roads meet. See also open the corner

fág a’ bealach!: (anglicizated Faugh A Ballagh) — clear the way, to get spectators out of the road in front of the thrower. (Also a traditional Irish battle cry.)

Get Sight: see open the corner

Kitter-paw: a left-handed thrower

Loft: to throw through the air.

Long bullets: see bullets

Open the corner: (also get sight) to throw so deeply into the curve that the next throw is a straight shot out

Score: a match

Shot: a throw

Sop: a tuft of grass placed in the road at a spot where the bowl should first strike the surface. An experienced bowler can “Split the sop.”

Stylish bowler: a bowler with a smooth well-coordinated delivery.


18 The G Gordon Liddy’s – First Place
19 Bowls Deep – Second Place
21 The O Clairs – Third Place
22 The Acolytes, Better than Marc Welsh


The Spring IRB was cancelled due to dangerous weather.


20 Celtic Railers – First Place
21 Nation of Domination – Second Place
22 Up the Deise – Third Place


21 Campbell Soups – First Place
21 Maguire U. Alumni Assoc. – Second Place
21 Irish Ball Busters – Third Place