Apparently, a “touch of the Irish” has come to Texas and more specifically to Brownwood… in the form of a sport known as Irish road bowling. I’m advised of this bit of “internationalism come to town” by one local practitioner of the sport. For reasons soon to become obvious he has requested anonymity.
But first what is Irish road bowling?
From the less than exhaustive research I have conducted, it is a centuries old hybrid between what we know as bowling and golf. There appears also to be a variance of shot putting or discus throwing involved as well. From Wikipedia the following: “Participants, usually single opponents, throw an 800 gram (about two pounds) bowl or bullet along a country road course up to 4 kilometers long and the fewest throws to traverse the distance wins the contest.”
Wikipedia continues that, “Participants in Ireland traditionally bet during the contest. Those who have bets on a player will follow the player around the course giving advice” a practice believed to have given rise to the contemporary golfing practice of caddying. Road bowling is believed to be the second most popular sport in Ireland having been birthed from the first most popular sport in Ireland… pubbing.
Road bowling terminology is at least colorful if not enlightening. A “kitter-paw” is a left handed thrower. The line in the road from which the throw is launched is referred to as the “butt.” Ironically, to cross the line is to “break butt.” A derivitive of the golf term “fore” is “faugh a ballach” or “get out of the way.”
Apparently this “get out of the way” thing is where my friend, the local practitioner, comes in. The Brownwood version, or at least the one described to me, involves cover of darkness at about 3 o’clock in the morning and a non inhibitive elixir with a worm in the bottom of the bottle.
After a couple of hours of “prepping” by imbibing in the magic elixir the games began at about 3 in the a.m. on a recent weekend night with the four participants displaying their new found skills on Ninth Street here in Brownwood. This particular Texas American variation involves substituting real bowling balls for the more proper Irish “bowl.”
Apparently the “faugh a ballach-ing” reached decibel levels attracting the attention of the trying to sleep citizenry who in turn filed complaints with constabulary charged with enforcing the sleep ordinances. Following arrival of two officers the rowdy road bowlers were processed on site to determine the previous criminal history of said bowlers. Aside from the current disturbances and varying degrees of public intoxication the participants were remanded to the custody of their better judgment, sent home and told to remain out of sight and sound for the remainder of the night.
The lone rule modification under consideration by the Brown County Road Bowling Commission (BCRBC) is that it is best not to particpate in local road bowling events if you have an outstanding warrant.
More world renowned road bowlers have found that driving your Cadillac SUV into a tree on the course at 3 a.m. will rouse your sleeping wife to an angry rage whereupon she may attack you with a nine iron or more savagely an Irish ax.
John Kliebenstein is circulation and operations manager of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Wednesdays. E-mail him at john.kliebenstein@brownwood