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Historic Painting of Irish Road Bowling

The Mighty Toals of County Armagh

Irish Long Bullets Road Bowling

Irish Road Bowling can be traced back to the 1600s. One story is that Dutch soldiers brought it when William of Orange came to Ireland in 1689. Another legend says that Irish patriots robbed English cannonballs and rolled them down a country lane by the light of a full moon.

County Armagh in the north and County Cork in the south became strongholds of this rural sport, each independently developing their own distinctive hurling style. The first noted "score" (match) between Cork and Armagh was the Sept. 1928 meeting on the Knappagh Road, Armagh, between winner Timmy Delaney, Cork and Peter "The Hammerman " Donnelley, Armagh, before 10,000 spectators.

After hundreds of years of localized bowling, Bol Chumann na hEireann (Road bowling of Ireland), today's governing organization, was formed in County Cork in 1954. The first "All Irelands" (national championships) between Armagh in the north and Cork in the south were held in 1963. Over 20,000 spectators filled the 3 mile Moy Road course, Armagh, to see Danny McPartland of Armagh win over Derry Kenny, Cork, on the final shot by just 11 yards.

In 1969, the first international championships were held in Losser, the Netherlands, in three disciplines - Irish Road Bowling, Dutch Moors Bowling and German Lofting.

~ Road Bowling in Ireland by Brian Toal

West Virginia Irish Road Bowling

Irish troops marched over rugged hills and into deep hollers, cutting their way through vast rhododendron thickets, all over what is now West Virginia during the Civil War, 1861-1863.

In 2003, Dan Harvey, Commandant of the Military Museum, Collins Barracks, Cork City, Ireland, wrote" it is highly likely, indeed probable, that Union or Confederate troops of Irish origin played road bowling between battles during the American Civil war - as they did worldwide ... with many foreign armies."

In 1861, the 10th Ohio, formed in Cincinnati from Irish militia, with Captain T.J. Kelly, fought at the battle of Carnifex Ferry Landing near Keslers Cross Lanes. The 23rd Illinois, Colonel James A. Mulligan's Irish Brigade, built and lived in Fort Mulligan near Petersburg for several months. In 1863, 80 Irishmen from Mulligan's Brigade, defending Greenland Gap, Hardy County, held a farmhouse for twelve hours against superior Confederate forces, until it was set afire and the roof caved in on them.

Mulligan's Irish Brigade