A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Road Bowling’

Ireland, West Virginia

Posted by graywacke on June 11, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2102; A Landing A Day blog post number 530.

 Dan –  Another OSer makes it 5 of the last 6, thanks to this landing in . . . WV; 22/17; 3/10; 149.0.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows that I landed amongst many small towns.  And believe me, they are all teeny:

 landing 2

Here’s a streams-only map that shows I landed in the Skin Creek watershed, on to the Stonewall Jackson Lake and the West Fork River (1st hit!):

 landing 3

Here’s an expanded streams-only map that shows that the West Fork River joins up with the Tygart Valley River to become the Monongahela River (4th hit).

 landing 4

Side note:  The Tygart Valley River is the only river I know with the word “Valley” as part of its name.  When you’re next to the river, you’re in the Tygart Valley River Valley . . .

As I’m sure you know, the Monongahela joins up with the Allegheny in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River (130th hit); and, of course, on to the MM (828th hit).

Here’s an oblique Google Earth (GE) shot,that shows I landed in a wooded uplands area:


An expanded GE shot shows a rugged topography, actually (geologically speaking) part of the dissected Allegheny plateau:


So, of course, I was per-googling the myriad of small towns in the vicinity of my landing.  The Frenchton Wiki entry is typical of what I found:

Frenchton is an unincorporated community in Upshur County, West Virginia, United States. Frenchton is 10.5 miles (16.9 km) southwest of Buckhannon. Frenchton has a post office with ZIP code 26219.

I had little luck until I tried Ireland.  Here’s what Wiki had to say:

Ireland is an unincorporated community in Lewis County, West Virginia, United States. The community was named for Andrew Wilson, its first settler, who was from Ireland.

Ireland is also the American home of the sport of Irish Road Bowling.

Irish Road Bowling!  No clue what that is, but maybe I’m getting somewhere.  I then found the “West Virginia Irish Road Bowling” website (www.wvirishroadbowling.com).  It features the Irish Spring Festival held each year in Ireland (Ireland WV, that is).  From the website, here’s an interesting factoid about Andrew Wilson, the person named in Wiki as the founder of the town:

The town of Ireland was settled in the early 1800s by Andrew Wilson, who was nicknamed “Old Ireland,” because he recently had immigrated from the country of Ireland to America, and because, when he died in November 1843, he was 114 years old.

Wow.  114 years old!  More about Irish Road Bowling in a little while, but first some more on the Irish Spring Festival held each spring in Ireland (Ireland WV, that is).  The highlight of the Festival is a trip up to Blarney Rock.  Here’s what the festival website has to say:

Approximately 2300 feet above sea level and with a rise of approximately 300 feet above the Ireland roadway, there is a large stone that appears to be defying the laws of gravity. That’s the Blarney Rock, at a very short hiking distance away.

The magic of the Blarney Rock (any name resemblance to the original Blarney Stone is purely coincidentally designed) lies with its effect on human aging. It is said that if one visits the Blarney Rock annually during the equinox – preferably on the first day of spring – he or she will live to be 114 years old!!

This legend can be proven to be an absolute certainty if the hike is made for 114 consecutive springtimes. The additional gesture of leaving a penny for the leprechauns increases ones chances for a long lifetime. Besides, it gives our children something of worth to do when the clean-up committee has begun its efforts after the Irish Spring Festival is over.

So, if you want to be as old as Andrew Wilson, take this advice: Hike to the Blarney Rock, climb upon the top, proclaim your gratitude for the coming of spring , and for some extra luck; leave a penny for the leprechauns. If you can do this for 114 springtimes – it is almost for certain that you too will reach the ripe old age of 114 years young.

The real hard core Irish Springers mark the equinox to the minute, even if it’s in the middle of the night . . .

Anyway, moving along to Irish Road Bowing.  It’s a game that originated in Ireland (surprise, surprise), and involves throwing a steel ball down a country road, following a specified course (generally between 1 & 2 miles long).  Simply, the number of throws is tallied and the lowest number of throws wins the match.  It can be scored individually, or can be team-based.

From the West Virginia Road Bowling site:

An iron and steel small cannonball, called a “bowl” is hurled down a 1.2 mile country lane, fewest throws to the finish line wins, similar to golf. Throws can roll 250 or even 300 yards.

Excitement builds as two evenly skilled players match each other shot for shot for more than a mile. Often these memorable matches, called “scores,” are decided by only a few feet or inches distance past the finish line, both players with the same number of throws.

The twists and turns of a narrow country lane as well as the tilt of the road surface (the “pitch and camber”) provide a rich playing field for strategy and can spark spirited debate among the thrower, his coach (the “road shower”) and full-throated spectators.

Before football, soccer, and basketball, before baseball and golf, was . . .

The Old Game, Irish Road Bowling.

From Wiki, here are some specifics on rules and techniques:

The thrower runs to the throwing mark and, in the Northern or County Armagh style, extends the arm and bowl behind him as he runs. At the throwing mark the arm is snapped forward by arching the back and shoulders, releasing the bowl underhand before stepping over the mark.

Wherever the bowl stops (not where it leaves the road surface), a chalk mark is made at the nearest point on the road and the next throw is taken from behind that mark.

The bowl is about 4.5” in diameter and weighs about 1.75 lbs.

Here’s a little piece on the sport (in Ireland) from ESPN.  Stay with it to the end to see some serious throws:

Here’s an Associated Press piece on the game in WV:

Here’s a little more laid-back match, in Ireland WV:

I’ll close with a couple of GE Panoramio shots.  First this, by Landon Owen, of a morning fog rising from the Stonewall Jackson Lake:

 pano landon owen early morning fog off stonewall jackson lake

And this, of the nearby Walkersville covered bridge, by Jack R. Perry:

 pano jack r perry walkersville covered bridge

That’ll do it.




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