Chetwynd Viaduct

Chetwynd Viaduct, Cork-Bandon Road

The "Everest" of Road Bowling - The Chetwynd Viaduct - was conquered after decades of attempts, on September 8th, 1985. Watched by over 10,000 people, Hans Bohllen from West Germany lofted a 28 oz. bowl over the viaduct clearing the top by ten feet.

The event was sponsored by Murphy Brewery Ireland in association with Bol-Chumann Na hEireann as part of the Cork 800 Celebrations. The winner Hans Bohllen from the Ost-Friesland Club in Germany recieved a prize of five thousand pounds.

Three Irish bowlers, all Cork based, Bill Daly, Eamonn Bowen and Dan O'Halloran, also successfully lofted the viaduct with the 16 oz. bowl and shared another Murphy prize of one thousand pounds.

Bohllen arrived complete with his ramp, which has been part of the German tradition since their association was founded in 1645 and is used by every member of their 22,000 strong association. Bohllen lofted successful on his third attempt though the bowl touched a girder on its way down. His fourth attempt soared ten feet over clearing all obstacles. Hans Bohllen had made history on that Sunday of September 8th, 1985. He had truly overcome that invincible obstacle that has stood unconquered since 1849 when it was built.

Some Cork bowl players attempted the same feat down through the decades. At the turn of the twentieth century it is claimed that Dan Hurley from Bandon lofted the viaduct and was presented with a medal for his achievement, but there are no records to show what type of bowl was used or from where the actual loft took place. In the early 1930s, Bill Bennett from Killeady in West Cork is said to also have succeeded but again there are no written records of this attempt.

In 1955 the first official attempt was made. In March of that year the event was watched by 6,000 spectators. Mick Barry from Waterfall succeeded in bounding a 16 oz. bowl over the viaduct. Barry's brother Ned and Mick himself both struck the upper iron work with a 28 oz. bowl.

The viaduct is 90 feet high and 21 feet wide. Dr. George Kelly, then a lecturer in mathematical physics in University College, Cork was asked by Cork Examiner journalist, Val Dorgan to give a theoretic account of what it would be to loft the Chetwynd Viaduct. Dr. Kelly said that to get a 28 oz. bowl over the viaduct, one must stand back about 45 feet, pitch it at an angle of 77 degrees and give the bowl a velocity of at least 20 feet per second.

To this day the Chetwynd Viaduct still straddles the Cork-Bandon road although the last train to pass over was on March 31st 1961.

previousPrevious - Ból Chumann na hÉireann/The National Assoc.