A sure sign that one is in the Rebel County is coming across a road bowling match. Peculiar to Cork, Armagh and very few other places, the contestants take turns in hurling a small iron ball along a country road. He (or indeed she) who completes the distance agreed upon in the least number of throws is declared the winner. Thought to have been brought to Armagh by the mill workers of the north of England, the game was in turn brought to Cork by those workers engaged in the linen industry. It was extremely popular for much of the 20c with hundreds of people turning out to cheer on their local heroes, and heavy betting would took place.
Today’s match was a pretty low-key affair though with only a dozen or so spectators. I stopped to allow one chap to take his turn which proved a weak, off-target effort and I proceeded on my way.
I find myself in the Togher district of Cork City, about three miles to the south of the city centre. Heading further south into the country lanes one cannot escape the inevitability of hill climbs. Today I set off from Togher Cross up past the City Bounds pub along a road that appears to have no name on the OS map. It rises quite steeply for maybe 1.5 miles before levelling out, and you find yourself at the perimeter fence of Cork Airport, and indeed passing by the end of the western runway. Running along here the other night was a risky business what with being blinded by car headlights, but today it was fine. A little further on, leaving the airport behind, the road drops away steeply again and I found myself coming out onto the main Kinsale Road at the Five Mile Inn. Happily it was not necessary to follow the main road and I was able to hang a right in the direction of west Cork. At the outskirts of Ballinhassig the Garmin bleeped six miles, time for me to turn around.
Today for the first time I activated the Garmin’s ‘Return to Start’ facility, which is quite neat. It shows the route you have travelled and you can follow this line home if you’re lost. Although I didn’t have to fall back on it today it would certainly come in useful under certain circumstances, as would the little compass pointer showing magnetic north.
Not for the first time I was struck by the consideration of Irish drivers towards pedestrians where no footpath exists. They always give a wide berth, or slow down/stop if traffic is coming in the opposite direction. In addition the indicator is often used and, if so, is acknowledged by me with a wave (as I hope it is by all walkers/runners, but maybe not). Compare with Jersey where drivers inevitably treat pedestrians with careless disregard, if indeed they happen to see them at all.
I’m running nicely today and I manage to negotiate the steep climb back up to airport level. But it’s only now I fully realise that there is a damp and brisk northerly blowing that means I have to dig in along this flat section. Compensation for the climbs come in the form of the views to west and south. In the dark the city lights are quite stunning from this viewpoint. Through the bowling match and down the drop to Togher, now pretty tired and cold and ready for a hot shower.
So 12 miles in 2:07 making 27 on the week and 993 for the year to date. All things being equal I’ll try to wrap up the 1,000 on Tuesday.
I feel guilty about leaving my Couch to 5k ladies group in Waterford. We were onto Week 5 and I think they were surprising themselves with their good progress. I left them the schedule for the remaining weeks and hope that they stick together as a group and complete the programme.
Ha! So, that's what road bowling is. I was running near Cork airport earlier this year (very close to the route you just described) and I encountered three guys doing exactly that, leaving me rather bemused. Finally I know what they were doing!
Yes, modern day traffic has killed the game off to a large extent but it's nice to see it still takes place. Maybe you'll start up a Kerry team and give us something to beat you at 🙂