Schull, Bantry and Road Bowling
This was the last day of our visit with Yvonne. She suggested that we go to Schull (pronounced Skull) for breakfast. She knew of a place that made crepes. They were huge!
After we ate, she drove us down by the harbor area. We took a short walk and snapped a few photos.
Schull is a coastal village known for its watersports. It’s the type of place where people might own vacation or weekend homes –especially if they are into sailing. Yvonne called it a “sailing town”.
On our way back, even though Yvonne didn’t think there’d be a view due to foggy conditions up high, she drove up Mt. Gabriel just in case. Mt. Gabriel is 1300 feet or so high –and there would normally be views of Schull and the coast, among other things. This was our view today.
We headed back to Yvonne’s to get Mike (who’d decided to skip breakfast) and all of us went to Bantry because Yvonne thought Laura and Gail might enjoy seeing Bantry House – the ancestral home to the White Family from 1730 to present day.
On our way we grabbed a couple of photos of the castle ruins just a mile or so from Yvonne’s house.
For a moment, though, I have to go back to our first day in Ireland. As you may recall, we had to drive from the airport in Cork to Yvonne’s in some pretty nasty weather. We were within a few miles of Yvonne’s that day when we saw a sign on the road –it was on an orange cone and said: Caution Road Bowling in Progress. We were all debating what on Earth that meant? Not far beyond the sign we came upon a group of men wearing the type of reflective vest a road maintenance worker wears and they were all sort of digging at the side of the road and one of them was holding something that –at a glance- we thought was a weed wacker. We came to the conclusion that they were fixing something and “road bowling” must be some strange Irish term relating to road work.
After Galway, when we returned to Yvonne’s, Gail happened to ask her about the sign –and the answer was really interesting to all of us. There is an actual sport called Road Bowling and although it used to be quite common and widespread, it is now only played in a few locations, County Cork being one of them.
In theory, road bowling is similar to golf, except the “course” is laid out along country roads (but not closed off to traffic!) The players (2 or more) take turns throwing a metal “bowl” that is 7 inches in diameter and weighs 28 ounces down the road. The object of the game is to see who can make it to the finish line with the fewest throws. Players will have help from a “road shower” (like a caddy) who advises them of the twists and turns of the route. There will also be a helper who stands out in front of the thrower to help them determine the best “line” for the throw. Courses will be as long as a mile or more. The roads, as I’ve said many times on this blog, are NOT straight either! It is definitely a spectator sport and people will gather to watch the matches –often betting on the outcome.
So, Yvonne said that the men we saw on the side of the road the day we arrived were probably trying to locate a thrown bowl. She said since the bowls are heavy and it was raining, it might have sunk into some mud (or deep grass). She said the weed wacker that we thought the man had been holding was probably a metal detector because that’s how they’d find the bowl in those conditions.
Today, on the way to Bantry, we were just coming into Durrus, a small village not far from Yvonne’s house, and the signs were out! We were so excited that she pulled over so we could see what was going on.
We think they were just getting started because the signs were out, but they weren’t playing yet. We could see a group of men up the road and it looked like the thrower was warming up.
What a unique thing to see in Irleland!
In Bantry, Laura and Gail decided to tour Bantry House while Mike, Yvonne and I took a walk along the Bayfront walking path.
Apparently the house was purchased around 1750 by the Whites, who were merchants. They didn’t begin to live there until about 1765. At the end of the 1700s Richard White, who had proven his loyalty to England during a “kerfuffle” involving an armada from France attempting to land in Bantry Bay, was named Baron Bantry. His son was subsequently named the first Earl of Bantry.
By the end of the 1800s, the last Earl died having had no children, so the title became extinct and the estate passed through his sister’s line to her son. The son hyphenated White with his original last name and that has been the modus operandi of all the White descendants since. The house is still owned by members of the White family after all these years. It seems there was never enough money to keep the house maintained properly, but each generation did what they could.
The house was opened for tours in the 1940s. In recent times, they’ve opened a wing up as a B&B and host an annual music festival on the grounds. They’ve also managed to find some funding from different sources to help with the ongoing repairs and maintenance.
It is amazing to think that the descendants of the White family have owned and lived in this beautiful house since before America issued the Declaration of Independence!
After we all met up again, we had an early dinner at a restaurant in Bantry and then went back to Yvonne’s to pack up and prepare for the next stops our Ireland d’aventure.
Here’s a couple of random pics from Bantry:
Categories: Schull, Road Bowling and Bantry