Rules Chairman, WV Irish Road Bowling Association
Irish bowling is an old Irish sport played by Irish troops
in West Virginia during the American Civil War. In 1995, it was
brought back in Ireland, West Virginia for the Irish Spring
A 28 ounce iron and steel cannonball the size of a tennis
ball (a "bowl"or "bullet") is hurled down a country lane. The
player or team with the fewest shots to the finish line wins.
A "road shower" 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
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
If two players or teams approach the finish line with equal
shots, the winner is decided by which throw goes farthest past the
A Score - a match. (Years ago, players were given 20
shots each, the winner determined by who went the greatest
A Shot - a throw.
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.
Bowl or Bullet - the 28-ounce small cannonball used in
Irish Road Bowling.
Bullets or Long Bullets - the County Armagh term for
Butt - the throwing mark on the road. To step over
the mark before releasing the bowl is to "break butt."
Clear the Road - to get spectators out of the road in
front of the thrower.
Corner - a sharp curve in the road or a corner where
two roads meet.
Faugh a Ballach! - traditional Irish battle cry (Clear
Get Sight or Open the Corner - to throw so deeply into
the curve that the next throw is a straight shot out.
Kitter-Paw - a left-handed thrower.
Loft - to throw through the air.
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