Cavan is ready to host the all Ireland championships for the traditional game of skittles.

The game of skittles was once played at crossroads around the country, a tradition which has died out. It is a sport which is still alive and well in County Cavan however, as regular gatherings at Barney Timmins' skittles pitch near Virginia will testify.

Skittles is played in many European countries, with the Irish version having its own unique style. One of the benefits is that there is no right or wrong way to throw the throwers or pelters, and as Philip Smith explains,

You just develop a style and you stick with it.

Barney Timmins also makes the throwers and is busy in his workshop in advance of the 27th All-Ireland Skittle Championships which will take place in Cornafean near Killeshandra. The Cavan skittles players are ready to host fellow players for the fifth time. Chairman of the Cavan Skittles Association, Christy Woods explains, this particular part of Cavan has,

A great tradition for all sorts of sports.

Paddy Leonard has the honour of taking the opening throw at the new skittles pitch. At seventy eight he is the oldest skittle player in Ireland,

It’s a game that I took on to, and I love playing it.

The Cavan Skittles Association are proud to have preserved the game, says President of Skittles Association Brendan McCann,

It’s part of our heritage.

Cornafean native and celebrated athlete Catherina McKiernan is also trying her hand at skittles,

It’s good to be out in the fresh air...I enjoyed it.

Indoor practice also takes place throughout the year in locations such as Lacken Hall. This level of commitment to the sport has resulted in much success for Cavan teams over the years. Lacken team captain Mel Lynch hopes their hard work will pay off in the All-Ireland Championships.

We would hope to do well there, seeing as we have the skills in our own back yard.

A ‘Nationwide’ report broadcast on 7 August 2002. The reporter is Alasdair Jackson.