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Irish Road Bowling gains popularity

July 20, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER
  • Irish Road Bowling Road master Mary Wolfe (center) who is a Morgan County Fair volunteer, helped establish Irish Road Bowling in Morgan County three years ago as part of the pre-Morgan County Fair activities. Ruth Jones (left) is also a Fair volunteer and helps Wolfe with the matches, and Cacapon State Park naturalist Kelly Smith is the park's liaison for the yearly event in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
Photo by Trish Rudder,

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- If you hear someone yell "bowling" in Cacapon State Park on Saturday, it's all part of the game called Irish Road Bowling.

This is the third year Irish Road Bowling is being held at the park in Berkeley Springs, said road master Mary Wolfe.

It began as one of the activities held the week before the Morgan County Fair, said Wolfe, who is a fair volunteer.

Four-member teams take turns throwing a cast-iron ball, about the size of a tennis ball on a 1.5-mile course of roadway in the park.

The Cacapon State Park course is a curvy road with sharp turns and deep ravines and ditches on the sides, making it a strategic course rather than a power course, Wolfe said.

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When the ball or "bowl" goes off the road, the road is marked with chalk by a team member wherever the bowl stops, not where it goes off the road, and the bowl is brought back on course for the next player to throw.

The team with the least number of throws is the winner, Wolfe said. The winning record is about 32 throws, she said.

"I love it. Even the time I had to climb a fence to get the ball," said fair volunteer Ruth Jones, who helps Wolfe run the match.

"It's friendly competition and a good family outing," Wolfe said.

The game is free and will start at 11 a.m. The four-member teams can register at 10:30 a.m. at the park's Nature Center pavilion in the picnic area, she said.

Anyone from ages 9 to 90 can play, and if you are not with a team, you can be matched up with others to make up a team, she said.

"It's about reading the road, not a strong throwing arm," said Cacapon State Park naturalist Kelly Smith, the park liaison for the event.

Smith said she will drive a hay wagon to transport the players to the game site and bring them back to the Nature Center.

About 20 areas in the state are part of the West Virginia Irish Road Bowling division. Matches are held in parks such as Holly River State Park, which is not far from Ireland, W.Va., where Irish Road Bowling began in West Virginia, Wolfe said.

Wolfe said Irish Road Bowling is growing in the Eastern Panhandle with about 100 players anticipated this year to bowl at Cacapon State Park. About 83 people participated last year, she said.

The first Irish Road Bowling match in Shepherdstown, W.Va., will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18.

"The Shepherdstown course is a power course," Wolfe said.

For information call Wolfe at 304-259-4958 or the Morgan County West Virginia University Extension Office at 304-258-8400.

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