Mick Barry

'The Bowlplayer of all time'

Michael (Mick) Barry, born in Waterfall, County Cork on January 10 1919, is widely acknowledged as the greatest ever exponent of bowlplaying. This has been said by many and denied by very few.

Mick Barry had it all. If success is the true test of greatness in any sport, then Barry must be truly great in Bowlplaying, in fact not just truly great but truly supreme. He had it all - the most devastating power and his style of play was the finest of them all. His loft (life) the longest of them all.

Mick Barry's career in Bowlplaying lasted 60 years. Beginning in 1937 until his retirement from active competition on Sunday June 1st 1997. Barry himself made the announcement on the Dublin Hill Road. The venue for many of Barry's victories. Amongst those present was the Minister for Sport Bernard Allen, T.D. and the Catholic Bishops of Cork, Most Rev. Dr. John Buckley, a great friend of Barry's. Mick Barry won his last major championship trophy in May 1997 at age 78 years. He took the Vintage Over-60's title, defeating his opponent, Liam O'Keeffe with a devastating last shot of the bowl.

Mick Barry's bowling career took off in 1954, the same year as the national body for the governing of the game was formed. Barry was then 35 years of age. He went on to win eleven Munster senior finals and pre-1963. In 1963 County Armagh entered the All-Ireland series to create the title, "All-Ireland Champion". Barry won eight All-Ireland Titles: 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1975.

Furthermore Mick Barry was a member of the Irish Team that took part in the first even International Championships which were held in the Netherlands in 1969 competing against teams from Holland and Germany. He also competed in the Internationals held in Jever, Northern Germany in 1974. There he won the Gold Medal in the Moors Bowling and the Silver medal for road bowling.

Barry conquered the Bowler's Everest, the Chetwynd Viaduct on the Cork-Bandon Road on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17th, 1955. He lofted the 2802 bowl on to the 100 foot high parapet; an incredible feat which required almost superhuman strength, virtually defying the laws of physics. This feat was witnessed by thousands of spectators. The Cork Examiner of March 18th, 1955 carried an extensive report of the event.

Barry showed his extraordinary lofting skills during many of his scores (games) which gave him a distinct advantage over his opponents. He famously lofted his bowl over a public house at a championship final for the All-Ireland title in 1964 at Dublin Hill in Cork. The pub, known as Mary Ann's (O'Connell), had to be cleared of patrons for safety. An estimated crowd of 15,000 witnessed Barry's bowl soaring high over the roof of the pub to land accurately on the correct part of the road of play.

Barry was defeated however in that score by his opponent All-Ireland Champion, Danny McParland of Armagh by the last shot in a thrilling encounter. The following year, 1965, Barry exacted sweet revenge when he defeated McParland in Armagh to take the All-Ireland Crown for the last time. Barry won by a big margin for a huge stake of £1,700. Later Barry said that this was, as far he (Barry) was concerned, that score against McParland was his most memorable bowling experience ever.

Mick Barry worked as a grounds superintendent at University College, Cork and retired after 47 years service on his 66th birthday in 1985.

Mick has many awards to his credit including the Jury's Hotel Sports Star Hall of Fame Award in 1995.

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By T F BARRY 113 | 2012-10-31 15:18:41