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Faugh a Ballagh!*

>> Sunday, March 14, 2010

Irish Road Bowling has come to Syracuse!

For our Sunday jaunt we did not wander off into the woods, but instead wandered into the wilds of Onondaga Lake Park to watch Syracuse's first ever Irish Road Bowling competition, an event hosted by Onondaga County Parks and put on by the Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake, Inc.  What fun!

What is Irish Road Bowling, you might ask?  It involves a team of four, a canon ball, beer, and 2 1/2 miles of open road.  It's sort of a cross between bowling and golf - you bowl the canon ball down the road, and the team that gets across the finish line with the fewest rolls wins.  In essence, it boils down to:

The ball:

By the way, this is a real sport, particularly in Ireland where it has been played for more than 300 years.  There are professional Irish Road Bowlers.  It's also gaining in popularity in the U.S., with Ireland, West Virginia being the U.S. capital of Irish Road Bowling.

Some participants in action, at the starting line:

And bowling down the length of the Park:

It was a cloudy windy day, but the rain largely held off, and the City of Syracuse made a pretty backdrop to the bowling.

People got really into it, and teams came with special shirts, hats, signs and decorated balls.

A team traveled from the New York/Vermont border, made up of people who Irish Road Bowl regularly.  They were the ringers, I guess, since they did take first prize in the men's team category.  For what it's worth, it took 45 bowls for the "pros" to go the length of Onondaga Lake Park.

Some of the other teams were mighty good, too, though.  The 2nd place men's team came in at 46, and the 3rd at 48.  Seems like Syracuse has the potential to turn out some talented Irish Road Bowling teams!  The top two co-ed teams each tied at 52, and had to do a sudden death shoot out, with the top team only winning by about 4 feet.

I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all - those who bowled, those who watched, and even those who ran the event.  There was a grand warm-up party at the end hosted by the Barking Gull, with plenty of Irish food and beer to warm everyone after the time in the cold.

The proceeds support the Friends of Historic Onondaga Lake's recreational and educational programs in Onondaga Lake Park, which I happen to think is a mighty worthy cause.  Most of the time when I'm headed outdoors I am looking to disappear into the wildest area I can find - I'm anti-social like that.  But Onondaga Lake Park is a real gem of Syracuse.  Most cities with lakes would do anything to have as much public property along their lake as Syracuse has.

Onondaga Lake Park is always picturesque,

and has great people watching.  It's got great history, too, which is still represented by the Salt Museum and Sainte Marie among the Iroquois.  There's always at least a little wildlife,

and plenty of dogs.  It's a great place to rollerblade, especially if one is as unable to stop on rollerblades as I am (no cars and no hills means I'm more likely to survive without major injury).  It's also a good place to bike with kids, jog and walk.  Let's face it, anyplace that makes it appealing to exercise and be outdoors is an asset for the community.

I'm delighted that so many folks came to Irish Road Bowling, and hope we can find more fun events like it to keep drawing people to Onondaga Lake Park.  I, for one, will be going back next year to watch the second annual Irish Road Bowling event.  If I get daring, perhaps I'll even get a team together...

* means "clear the way" in Irish.

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