HISTORY OF THE CURRAGH GOLF CLUB
The Irish Times newspaper of 13th July 1982 publicised a competition run by the Curragh Golf Club to commemorate the 125th anniversary of a match played by David Ritchie and Alexander Love...."on the links near Donnelly's Hollow”. As a result Mrs. Christina Adams, grand-daughter of David Ritchie, contacted the Club and prior to her death presented a portrait of her father which hangs in a place of honour in the clubhouse. In 1852 the British Earl of Eglington, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and founder Captain of Prestwick Golf Club (1851) in Scotland, played golf on the Curragh with a Col Campbell of the Queens Bays (British Army).
The Irish Times of 12th March 1883 carried the following announcement... "Maj Gen Fraser V.C., C.B., Commanding the Curragh Brigade, has sanctioned the formation of a garrison golf club. The Rules of the Club will be the same as those of the Royal & Ancient Club of St. Andrews, Scotland.”
Apart from the reference to Donnelly's Hollow, the famous landmark near the 15th tee, there are no details of either the course or the Club before 1887. In that year there were eleven holes.
There was neither entry fee nor subscription and membership was apparently confined to Officers of the British Curragh Garrison. By 1889 there was a course of 18 holes and the Club had affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland. By 1897 the ladies had their own nine-hole course.
The Curragh Golf Course consists of 24 hectares and it is on the open plain. It had to be changed many times in the early years to meet military requirements. Barracks, parade grounds, firing ranges and even the Watertower now stand where there were once fairways and greens. In 1901, Col Hammersley and Major Close laid out a course at the east side of the Curragh Camp. The Club continues to play over this historic area which encompasses trenches dug by soldiers preparing for the First World War, a Cavalry Camp and the Abattoir (demolished in 1996) which dated back to the year of the Camp’s foundation in 1885.
On 24th September 1910 the title ‘Royal’ was conferred on the Curragh Golf Club. Correspondence with the British Home Office confirms that the title is still valid to this day. The Curragh Camp was evacuated by the British army on 16th May 1922 and handed over to the Irish Defence Forces. Unfortunately no records of the Club were handed over.The Club was maintained through the dedicated efforts of some civilians who had been members prior to the 1922 handover. Since then, the Club has maintained a happy and unique tradition of military and civilian participation in the management of its affairs. The President of the Club is the General Officer Commanding the Defence Forces Training Centre and in alternate years the Mens Club Captaincy rotates between the civilian and military membership. New clubhouses were built in 1912 and in 1942 and extensive renovations were carried out in 1963. In 1993 virtually the entire clubhouse was re-built on the existing site and developed into a modern functional golf clubhouse encompassing a Professionals Shop, Mens and Ladies changing rooms with toilets and showers, various function rooms, a lounge, a dining room and kitchen, a billiard room a Committee room and an Administrative Office.
The Club celebrated its centenary in 1983 (being the second oldest Club in Ireland) and the occasion was marked by the presence of the Captains of three eminent Scottish Golf Clubs which have historic connections with the Curragh - the Royal & Ancient St. Andrews, Royal Musselburgh and Prestwick.
The 125th Anniversary
In 1982 the committee of the Curragh Golf club decided to mark the 125th anniversary of the match played by David Ritchie and Alexander Love on the 15th of July of that year. Martyn Turner, cartoonist of the IRISH TIMES (a member of the club) was commissioned to produce a poster for the commemorative competition. The competition poster depicts a modern golfer looking at an old 1850s gutta percha golf ball, with David Ritchie and Alexander Love looking on. When Dermot Gilleece of THE IRISH TIMES was shown the poster he decide to publish it in his weekly golf column on 13th July 1982.