Thursday, February 23, 2017

Soda bread contest adds demonstration of a very Irish sport

Examples of Irish soda breads
Anyone who has seen travel documentaries on Irish village life no doubt has seen examples of a pastime called "road bowling." If you are not among them, you'll be able to see a display of the activity during the 5th annual "Maureen Farrell McCarthy Irish Soda Bread Competition" on Saturday, March 4, at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany.

The overall event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the museum's Hogarty Family Exhibit Hall at 370 Broadway. Competitors are required to pay an advance $5 entry fee online.

The competition is the creation of Harold Quarters, a retired chef of Irish-American heritage, and is named in honor of the late Maureen Farrell McCarthy originally of Crookhaven, Ireland, who was a museum trustee and a judge at the inaugural competition. The amateur baking competition involves two categories: traditional white flour Irish soda bread and family, not strictly traditional Irish soda bread.

At noon, the museum will be featuring a demonstration on traditional Irish road bowling, at 1 p.m. Qualters will lead a presentation on the history of Irish soda bread as well as a demonstration on how to make the traditional version, at 1:30 the competitors' breads will be available for tasting, and at 2 o'clock the awards will be presented.

Road bowling -- as shown in the photo below -- dates back to at least the 1600s. Competitors attempt to take the fewest throws to propel a metal ball along a predetermined course of country roads. Wikipedia has information on the rules, equipment and history of the sport.

A road bowler leaves his feet in an effort to propel the ball as far as possible.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

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