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What is Irish Road Bowling?

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in St. Patrick, Missouri will include the 2nd annual Irish Road Bowling event. What is Irish Road Bowling? It has been described as “golf with a cannon ball.”

Irish Road Bowling is an ancient game, played for more than 300 years in County Armagh in Northern Ireland and in County Cork in Southern Ireland.  The best description of game is that it is like golfing with a cannonball and a good sense of humor.

Young boys enjoy a game of road bowling in an Irish country lane.
Three Lions, Getty Images

Forty teams of four will be participating in this year’s event. The game is played with a steel ball, called a bowl, that is hurled towards a finish line. Just like in golf, the lowest number – in this case, the number of throws it takes to cross the finish line – wins.

If Irish Road Bowling sounds like a fun way to spend St. Patrick’s Day weekend, consider registering a team. The cost is $20. Don’t worry if you don’t have a 28 ounce steel bowl laying around the house; all essential equipment to participate will be provided.

Check-ins will be at St. Patrick’s Old Irish Gift Shoppe beginn at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 16.  Bowling begins at 10 a.m. The game will be played just south of the St. Patrick city limits, on Highway 81 South. To register a team, contact Bob Dickson, road bowling coordinator, at 217-242-5593.

Participants and spectators are allowed to bring their own coolers and beverages. The contest is rain or shine.

Other activities going on in St. Patrick, Missouri include live music and Irish food, the special cancellation stamp and the annual dinner at the Shrine of St. Patrick on Sunday, March 17.


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