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Irish road bowling returns to Lewis County

Photo submitted to The Exponent Telegram Travis Craig, a native of the Lewis County community of Ireland, has gotten good enough at Irish road bowling that he has competed in Boston as well as the country of Ireland, where the sport originated.
Photo submitted to The Exponent Telegram
Travis Craig, a native of the Lewis County community of Ireland, has gotten good enough at Irish road bowling that he has competed in Boston as well as the country of Ireland, where the sport originated.

IRELAND, W.Va. — Travis Craig comes from Ireland — the small community in Lewis County — so after he began Irish road bowling, he got to go compete in Ireland, the country.

“Ireland’s amazing,” said Craig, who now lives in Jane Lew. “It’s a really fun place to go, and it’s a beautiful place.”

Craig appreciates his connection to Ireland, the country, because his hometown, situated between Buckhannon, Weston and Sutton, is the home of the Irish Spring Festival, which began 32 years ago, making this the event’s 33rd year.

Opening ceremonies for the festival will be held at 7 p.m. today followed by a week of activities, including Irish road bowling, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The festival will end with the declaration of spring, which this year will take place at 12:57 p.m. March 20.

David Powell, a Washington, D.C.-area resident, helped initiate road bowling at the Irish Spring Festival. That occurred after he and his mother, a native of the community of Ireland, visited the town’s namesake country in 1994 and brought back the heavy, steel balls — called “bowls” — used in Irish road bowling.

He took the balls to Denton King, who helps lead the Irish Spring Festival, and asked, “What do you think about this? It’s a great tradition in Ireland.”

So in 1995, the Irish Spring Festival introduced Irish road bowling on a road selected by King.

“He chose the road, and it turned out to be one of the best roads in the whole state of West Virginia,” Powell said…

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