Irish Road Bowling used to raise money for the organization | News, Sports, Jobs
WHEELING – The Wheeling Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians uses Irish Road Bowling as the primary fundraiser for the organization.
This event has been held for over 10 years and this year promises to be one of the best. Over 20 years ago, the Hibernians decided they needed an event that could help raise funds. With Craig O’Leary in the lead, a group of Hibernians attended an Irish road bowling event in Kingwood, West Virginia, to determine if road bowling could be organized in a way that would help raise money. funds. After attending the event, they took this model and refined it to achieve the organization’s goal and create a major fundraiser. HAE’s Wheeling Division now uses Irish Road Bowling as its biggest fundraising event of the year. Money raised supports many annual scholarships and local charities, and the event has inadvertently become HAE’s main membership drive, as new members join each year after participating and learning about HAE. .
Road Bowling in Ireland has been played for centuries. Mainly rural sport, its principle is simple. It is played along a winding country road with curves and hills and the road, or course, can be as long as 1 or 2 miles, definitely a good stretch for the legs. Typically, two players alternate taking turns throwing a heavy iron ball or bowl (just smaller than a softball) from underhand along the road. The winner is the one who can cover the planned course in the fewest throws. What makes the game a little more interesting is that locals follow the participants and make bets throughout the game. These crowds make for craic (good fun) and time well spent with family and friends. Roads are generally not closed, so you should keep an eye out for vehicles sharing the road, or vice versa. The game in Ireland is played primarily in counties Cork and Armagh, with an All-Ireland champion being crowned each year.
In West Virginia, the sport has grown since the mid-1990s, with more than 20 road bowling events being held in 2022. It is played a bit differently from the game in Ireland, and teams may be involved depending on the venue. Betting is not a major part of the game. The Wheeling event takes place in September each year; the day begins with team registration at noon. Each participant pays a fee which includes bowling, dinner, music and drinks. In 2010, the first year of the event, 26 teams participated. It is anticipated that in 2022 there will be over 175 teams with nearly 1,000 participating bowlers. It is considered the biggest road bowling event in the world!
Once the last iron ball has been thrown, everyone (bowlers as well as those watching on the sidelines) enjoys a catered meal and live Irish music, with the event continuing well into the evening. A trophy, named in honor of the Reverend Jeremiah McSweeney, is awarded to the team with the fewest throws. McSweeney, a native of Rossmore, Co. Cork, has ministered to Roman Catholics throughout West Virginia since arriving in the 1970s. He attends the event annually.
Ultimately, funds raised are used to help those in need in the Ohio Valley. Not only is the event for a good cause, it has increased the popularity of Irish road bowling in West Virginia and created a great outing for family and friends. Irish road bowling is open to anyone who wishes to participate. The success is such that the group may have to limit the number of participants in the future. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, September 24 at the Sonneborn Shelter near Wheeling Park High School. Registration begins at noon. For more information and to see photos, visit aohwheeling.shutterfly.com or facebook.com/roadbowling or call 740-695-5610.