Pair of freestanding mass-concrete handball alleys built in the 1920s. Unpainted mass-concrete walls incorporating section of random rubble stone wall to north-east forming part of boundary wall, and rendered rounded coping having iron posts with iron mesh panels. Set perpendicular to road.
Many towns in Ireland have a public Handball Alley/Court this one is located at Michael Street Gardens in Kilkenny and it does not appear to be in great condition as is often the case. From the 1880s to the 1970s handball was a popular sport in religious and military institutions, with most seminaries, secondary schools, psychiatric hospitals, RIC barracks (and later Garda stations), army barracks and fire stations typically containing multiple alleys. These tended to be built side by side, back to back or in rows.
Gaelic handball (known in Ireland simply as handball) is a sport where players hit a ball with a hand or fist against a wall in such a way as to make a shot the opposition cannot return, and that may be played with two (singles) or four players (doubles). The sport, popular in Ireland, is similar to American handball, Welsh handball, fives, Basque pelota, Valencian frontó, and more remotely to racquetball or squash. It is one of the four Gaelic games organised by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). GAA Handball, a subsidiary organisation of the GAA, governs and promotes the sport.
Handball is played in a court, or “alley”. Originally, an alley measuring 60 by 30 feet (18.3 by 9.1 m) was used with a 30-foot (9.1 m) front wall, off which the ball must be struck.
A smaller alley was also introduced, measuring 40 by 20 feet (12.2 by 6.1 m) with a front wall 20 feet (6.1 m) high. The first alley of this size was built in Ireland in 1969. This smaller size is now the standard in the international version of the game, but both alleys are still used in the Gaelic game, with two separate championships run by the GAA in the two codes.
The objective of a game is to be the first to score a set total of points. Points are only scored by the person serving the ball. In other words, if a player wins a rally but did not serve at the start of that rally they only win the right to serve, and thus the chance to score after a subsequent rally. The serving player has two opportunities to hit the ball, from the “service area” (between the two parallel lines), off the “front wall” and across the “short line” (which is located exactly halfway down the court from the front wall).
Players take turns at hitting the ball off the “front wall” before the ball bounces twice on the floor of the court following their opponent’s previous shot. Most handball games take place in a four-walled court but there are also three-walled and one-wall versions of the game.