Bowling Meets Golf This Weekend in Wheeling

What do bowling, golf, and winding country roads have in common? The answer is Irish Road Bowling, and this beloved sporting event returns this weekend in Wheeling!

Not familiar with Irish Road Bowling? This sport dates all the way back to the 1600s in Ireland, where folks combined golf and bowling into one for a smashing good time. 

Irish Road Bowling in Wheeling puts a spin on a traditional Irish sport by lugging a steel ball down a mile-and-a-half county road just outside of Wheeling Park. The team with the lowest amount of throws at the end of the game wins, just like golf! 

This sport was brought to Wheeling by a fundraising organization called the, Ancient Order of Hibernians. Two of the event coordinators are longtime Wheelingites, Tom Connelly and Craig O’Leary. Craig and Tom are both officers of this organization with Tom serving as president. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is described by Tom Connelly as, “a group of Irish Catholic men interested in all things Irish.” In addition to celebrating their shared Irish heritage, the organization also raises money for charitable endeavors throughout the community. Each year, the AOC awards three $1,000 scholarships to students in Ohio, Belmont County, and Marshall County, WV. Other funds raised throughout the year are donated to charities around the area.

The AOC awarded three $1,000 scholarships to local students in 2022. This years recipients were (from left) Brent Smith (Ohio Univ.), Sara Gruber (WVU), & John Emmerth (WVU). Also pictured is Tom Murphy, Scholarship Committee Chairman.

The AOC is most known for hosting Wheeling’s annual Irish Roadbowling McSweeny Cup has been held in Wheeling for the past 14 years and claims to be the largest Irish road bowling event in the world. This year, the event will be held at the Sonneborn Shelter, Co Hwy 15/2, Wheeling, WV 26003.  Teams of up to six individuals will gather at noon on Saturday and depart on buses to the course start. From there, they will roll their way back to Sonneborn to celebrate with dinner, drinks, and rewards. Tom has mentioned that “teams compete for the ‘McSweeney Cup,’ named after division Chaplain Father Jeremiah McSweeney, who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this year.”

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 Connelly is also proud that this event is one of the world’s largest, with 1,000 or more participants in attendance! 

How do you register for this day of fun you may ask? It’s simple really. You can register on the day of this event at Sonneborn Shelter or you can register online here. Each team for the event can consist of 3 to 6 bowlers.

To add to the excitement, the AOC has added a new Friday night concert a Sonneborn Shelter to help hype everyone up ahead of the main event. Beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, The Jig-Offs and Brigids Cross will perform live at the shelter. The cost to attend is just $10, and guests can bring their own food and drink to enjoy during the show. 

With the fall weather settling in for the season, it’s sure to be a beautiful weekend to spend outdoors with friends at Wheeling’s 14th Annual Irish Road Bowling event this Saturday! Learn more about this year’s event by visiting

Kaden Bednarek is a local paranormal fanatic, horror lover, haunted house actor, and aspiring journalist.