Irish Road Bowlers Compete on Backroads of La Crosse County

By Joel Waldinger | January 28, 2019


The sound of a two-pound cannonball skipping across the pavement is unique and unmistakable. The cadence grows louder as the ball draws near and drifts into the surroundings shortly after whizzing by. Luke Seielstad says, “So, when you say, ‘I’m going to go chuck a cannonball down the street,’ people get really confused.”

The confusion can be cleared with a Google search, and then most people realize “I want to do that, too.” Why not chuck a cannonball down the road?” That’s exactly what it comes down to in the age-old sport of Irish Road Bowling.

On the back roads of La Crosse County, Luke and bowling partner Brady Hoeth have come to play. It’s a sport that originated in Ireland and born out of the Renaissance in the 1600s. There is a theory that the Irish stole cannonballs from the English and didn’t want to carry them the whole way, so they just threw them down the road.

Luke and Brady are the defending champions of the Irish Road Bowling Tournament during the La Crosse Irishfest. The rules are simple. Chuck a two-pound ball as hard as you possibly can, as far as you possibly can. Where it goes off the road, that’s where you mark it. The idea: you have to go across a set road course in the fewest number of throws alternating between bowlers.

The game of Irish Road Bowling teaches patience, perseverance and can take a lot of time because you are constantly searching for your “bowl” after it leaves the road and enters the gravel, the grass or a patch of weeds. Luke says, “Thankfully, there are a bunch of people there that are watching it and are willing to help you find it.”

At the end of the day, with the battlefield behind them, Luke and Brady win another championship while sporting their Irish pride.


The Etiquette of Irish Road Bowling


Why Irish Road Bowlers Wear Kilts


Irish Road Bowling Team Names

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger

Joel Waldinger is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project and considers a sunset over the “big island” on Manson Lake to be a perfect ending to a day of fishing and fun in the Northwoods. 

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