muskerry

Club
History

Slider

The Club founded following a meeting at South Mall, Cork. Muskerry’s first president was Sir George Colthurst.

The Muskerry Golf Course certainly caught the imagination, and The World of Golf magazine (Irish Section) of April 25, 1907 had this to say:

“A single golf course for a sporting town like Cork was not keeping up with the times and, we are not surprised that a friendly rival to the Little Island course has arisen”.

On March 20th, 1908, the Cork Examiner reported that Mr W Dorgan, solicitor, had applied for a certificate of registration for Muskerry Golf Club at a sitting of Blarney Petty Sessions. He stated that he applied under the section of the 1884 act.

The club had a membership of close on 300 and gave a good deal of employment in the district.

The first Annual General Meeting was held on May 2nd 1908 and Muskerry Golf Club was affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1910.

World renowned Golf Course architect Alister MacKenzie’s first major engagement in the South of Ireland, in 1924, was at the Muskerry club in County Cork when he presented plans for a course extension from nine holes to 18.

A 1930 Muskerry booklet recorded the MacKenzie visit thus: “Dr McKenzie’s services were sought and secured for the first time in Southern Ireland and strikingly well has he performed his work as Muskerry’s 18 holes now form a bold and beautiful course capable of absorbing the interest and attention of any player no matter his handicap.

Muskerry Golf Club Centenary Year.

Muskerry Golf Club won both the Irish Junior Cup and Jimmy Bruen Shield in September 2007 at Shandon Park, Belfast. The victories brought the club’s All-Ireland total to 10.

The Bruen victory was, extra special as the competition commemorated the great Jimmy Bruen who received his first Handicap of 6 from Muskerry in 1935.

 Bruen’s son Chris, attended at Shandon Park , and back in the Muskerry Clubhouse, Bruen’s widow Nell delivered a speech at the homecoming celebrations.

Click on the tabs below to view the different history sections.

History

Tim O'Brien Looks Back at the Club's fledgling days.

The story of Muskerry Golf Club’s inauguration - and unbroken existence for well over 100 years - began in March 1907 with a meeting of influential people at the offices of Atkins and Chirnside, chartered accountants, 39 South Mall, Cork.

Sir George Colthurst of Blarney Castle Estate chaired the meeting and was elected president of the provisional committee with Dr Anislie Hudson of the nearby St. Ann’s Hydropathic Centre as secretary.

It was announced that the professional services of Lahinch native John McNamara were secured. He had previously served at Haulbowline, Tramore and St. Ann’s near Tower.

cork examiner article 1907
March 13th 1907 Cork Examiner

The land for the Muskerry course, near Cloghroe and Tower, in 1907 was made available through the good offices of local farmers Jerome Dorgan and Timothy O’Keeffe who lived in adjoining townlands separated by a small river named Abhann na Ghaorach.

Shanakiel resident Jerome Dorgan had a lease on a farm at Coolflugh before eventually purchasing it in the Spring of 1907 from an Annette Wall of Kashmir State in India, and this development led to approaches being made to him for the renting of some of his farm land for golfing activity.

Mr Dorgan was interested in golf anyway as he played the game at the nearby St Ann’s Hill Hydro - a complex that included a health centre, a hotel and a large farm.

However, golfing activity ceased at St. Ann’s in October 1906 – due to financial reasons – so golfers of the era were anxious to secure another course and, fortunately, the Dorgan and O’Keeffe families were key to their plans.

Muskerry’s first president Sir George Colthurst
Muskerry’s first president Sir George Colthurst.

Negotiations concluded, Muskerry’s new professional John McNamara went on to prepare a nine hole course, working mainly on roughly made tees and preparing greens on suitable grass areas which required cutting on a regular basis with a hand drawn lawn mower.

The Muskerry development certainly caught the imagination and The World of Golf magazine (Irish Section) of April 25, 1907 had this to say: A single golf course for a sporting town like Cork was not keeping up with the times and, we are not surprised that a friendly rival to the Little Island course has arisen. The new course has been laid out under the direction of Dr Anislee Hudson of St Ann’s Hill and the club, of which the doctor is honorary secretary, is called the Muskerry Golf Club.

‘The course is easily reached from Cork by the Light Railway (Muskerry Tram) that runs out to Blarney - a journey which is delightful at any time, but now with the addition of a game of golf at the end, will be doubly so. The course is over 5,000 yards (nine holes played twice) and every one of the holes has some characteristic about it in the way of hazards.

These hazards consist of lanes, banks, trees, a gravel pit, the railway and a small river (Abhann na Ghaorach) and to escape such a choice selection of difficulties will require pawky play'.

opening ceremony 1907
Muskerry Golf Club opening ceremony

The World of Golf magazine said the formal opening would take place on May 4, 1907 and ‘we anticipate a successful career for the new Southern club’.

The Cork Examiner of April 30th 1907, in a reference to the opening, said the greens were in tip top order, considering the short time expended on their preparation, no time or labour having been spared, and they are really better than many golf clubs can ever attain to, the nature of the ground lending itself to the quick production of really good putting turf.

The Muskerry name for the club was, perhaps, derived from the adjoining Cork and Muskerry Light Railway Line (or the Muskerry Tram as it was popularly known) but the club’s roots in the Barony of Muskerry may also have been a consideration.

On May 6th, 1907, the Cork Examiner reported on the opening ceremony in great detail. It stated that Muskerry Golf Club's Honorary Secretary Dr Anislie Hudson addressed a large assembly, saying he was the club's founder and that the committee had been inaugurated some six weeks earlier. He also outlined the aims and objectives of the club.

Five years old Marjorie Hudson performed the christening ceremony by breaking a bottle of champagne and stating: "Ladies and Gentlemen, You have heard what my daddy has said. It only remains for me to formally declare the Muskerry Golf Club open and to wish it long life and prosperity."

A vote of thanks, on the motion of Mr John Day, was passed to the honorary secretary for his services in connection with the formation of the club.

john mcnamara 1st club pro
John McNamara, Muskerry's 1st Professional

An exhibition match was played by the McNamara brothers from Lahinch, one of whom, John, was the club’s first professional.

As a club pavilion had yet to be erected, a marquee was on site for the large attendance and teas and refreshments were served throughout the afternoon.

Most of the attendance made the trip to Muskerry by rail - on the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway.

The railway terminus was at the site of the present day River Lee Hotel and the train proceeded along the Western Road to Leemount and Coachford Junction, near Muskerry's 18th green.

One line branched off to Coachford and the other passed beside the clubhouse and continued along the present 16th fairway and under the bridge near the 17th tee and on to St Ann’s, Donoughmore and Blarney. The clubhouse site was considered ideal in view of the train service.

The Cork Constitution newspaper also reported on the Muskerry Club opening and said that the Union Jack flew there on the day and that the club's colours were red and white. A strong wind prevailed for the exhibition match and Willie McNamara from Lahinch beat his brother John by a one up margin. In strokeplay, however, John scored 75 gross as against Willie's 78.

After the auspicious opening, it was progress all the way with the Cork Constitution newspaper of May 7, 1907 stating that the committee of the newly formed Muskerry Club was determined to leave no stone unturned in its efforts to attract golfers to the conveniently situated links. An open competition was advertised for Whit Monday.

On September 17th, 1907, the Cork Examiner reported: Though the club has only been a short time in existence, it has rapidly become very popular. Each week the membership increases and there is every indication that the club will shortly occupy a very prominent position amongst southern golfing clubs.

It is right to mention, the newspaper added, that the links, though laid out only five or six months, has already reached a very mature stage and that is principally due to the energy, carefulness and attention of the professional, Mr McNamara.

A neat pavilion is nearing completion and when finished the Muskerry Golf Club ought to look forward to a future in which it will be recognised amongst the leading Irish clubs. The pavilion will be so situated that the train can be seen coming from either direction in sufficient time to enable members to catch it with ease, the railway station being only 100 yards away, the newspaper added.

Muskerry Golf Club’s first captain
Muskerry Golf Club’s first Captain Inspector General Fitzgerald

In October 1907, Colonel Sir Neville Fitzgerald Chamberlain, Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary, was asked to act as captain until the Annual General Meeting the following May.

Arrangements were underway in December 1907, according to club minutes, regarding land leasing arrangements with the Dorgan and O'Keeffe families.

The nine holes Muskerry course embraced the area close to the present clubhouse (five holes) with four more across the Cork - Cloghroe road and also taking in the O’Keeffe land near the Abhann na Ghaorach and a field which is now the location of the Grange Con Nursing Home.

On March 20th, 1908, the Cork Examiner reported that Mr W Dorgan, solicitor, had applied for a certificate of registration for Muskerry Golf Club at a sitting of Blarney Petty Sessions. He stated that he applied under the section of the 1884 act.

The club was conducted in a proper manner, he said, and was intended for the purpose of promoting the game of golf.

The club had a membership of close on 300 and gave a good deal of employment in the district. Sergeant Kingston said there was no objection whatever on the part of the Constabulary and the application was unanimously granted.

The first Annual General Meeting was held on May 2nd 1908 and Muskerry Golf Club was affiliated to the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1910.
A Muskerry minute book of May 2nd, 1908 records the first Annual General Meeting - arrangements for same having been made at a committee meeting a fortnight earlier when it was stated that the meeting would be held on the arrival of the 2.40 p.m. train from Cork.

In the absence of the President, Sir George Colthurst, the meeting got underway at 3.15 p.m. and was chaired by Mr F W Mahony (Blarney Woollen Mills).

Mr H Barter, in the absence of Mr Martin, submitted a financial statement which showed a debit bank balance of £28. 7s. 0d and this was considered very satisfactory considering the heavy labour bill that had to be met and the many other preliminary expenses.

General regret was expressed that the club should lose the services of Mr Martin and a warm vote of thanks was passed to him for the excellent services rendered by him to the club.

The following officers were elected for the ensuing year:
President Sir George Colthurst, Vice-President Richard Barter, Captain Henry Cronin, Hon. Treasurer Walter Morrogh, Hon. Secretary Mr Arthur Winder.

Committee:
Rev Mr Hayes, Inspector General Fitzgerald, Walter Dwyer, R Hall, F W Mahony, H Barter, J Dorgan, Prof J P Molohan, John O’Callaghan and Chas Daly.

The following scale of subscriptions for 1908 was adopted:
Gentlemen £1.11.6; Ladies 15s 6; non-players 10s.6.

For military and naval officers, also clergymen and bank officials – the sub to be £1.11. 6. yearly without entrance fee and may be paid half yearly.

Temporary members:
Monthly tickets 10s; weekly 5s; daily one shilling; Family tickets £3.3.0 for existing members; Families joining, not already members, to pay £4.4.0 and £2.2.0 entry fee.

Parties becoming members of Muskerry Golf Club, if already members of the Cork or Monkstown clubs, may do so without paying the usual entry fee of £1. 1.0.

It was decided that caddies under 14 years must not be employed except on Saturdays and Sundays. The question of caddies classification and charges was left to the committee.

muskerry rail track

The 80th anniversary of the closure of the famous Muskerry Tram rail line was marked in a special way by Muskerry Golf Club in 2014 with the laying of sleepers, a piece of track and a signal post adjacent to the 18th green.

The area is known as Coachford Junction and it was here that the Muskerry Light Railway Company built a branch line extension to Coachford with the main line from Cork City serving Blarney and Donoughmore.

The rail system to Mid-Cork was inaugurated in 1887 and for Muskerry golfers in the 1907 era - and years following - it was the only means of transport to a club they loved so dearly.

All came to an end of course with the line closure in December 1934 as by then bus and motor cars were modes of convenience.

Forward to 2014 when it was suggested that the 80th anniversary of the closure would be an appropriate time to highlight, for the present generation of golfers, the importance of the Muskerry Tram in the club’s fledgling years. An entry in an early minute book, for example, recorded that the timing of the club’s first annual general meeting on May 2nd 1908 was set to co-inside with the arrival of the 2.40 p.m. train from Cork. Little wonder then, with so much history on their doorstep, that the idea of an anniversary to mark the 1934 closure had the great support of the club’s principal officers and they approved a big clean up of the former Muskerry rail line in 2014.

train track and clubhouse

A site that received special attention was the area of the old rail platform near the 18th green as briars and overgrown grass had hidden the historic track location and platform for decades. Wonderful then that an enthusiastic band of volunteers, together with course staff, were rewarded for their endeavours when a platform wall on the banks of the River Shournagh was uncovered. This was just the spur needed to advance the anniversary celebration and the club readily approved a plan for the laying of a piece of track with a three foot guage – the rail measurement in the tram era – with a signal post and lantern attached. Club member Michael O’Callaghan is due much thanks for his unstinting work in this regard.

For information on the rail line itself, I rely on my late Examiner and Evening Echo colleague Walter McGrath – an authority on Irish railways – who obliged with an article for a book I compiled in 1985 marking ‘Cork 800’ year and with special reference to Muskerry Golf Club. His article included the following passages: “No history of Muskerry Golf Club would be complete without reference to the ‘Muskerry Tram’, that much-loved (and much-maligned) narrow-guaged steam railway which cut right through the golf course for a period of many years until closure time on Saturday, December 29th, 1934.

The Muskerry Tram was quite an institution for almost half a century, both in Cork City itself and in the Muskerry hinterland which it served. By coincidence, the golf course was almost at the very centre of the railway’s route; in fact, its most important intermediate station was Coachford Junction, sited close to the present 18th green.

“The full title of the line was the Cork and Muskerry Light Railway. It was built by Robert Worthington, one of Ireland’s best known railway contractors, and it ran from Western Road, to three outer termini – Blarney (opened 1887), Coachford (1888) and Donoughmore (1893).

The system was never noted for its speed, but then it operated in leisurely and unhurried times. Just as ordinary layfolk had many jokes about it – (don’t pick blackberries while the train is in motion’ etc) – so also the golfing fraternity invented many stories of weird and wonderful golf shots, e.g. the ball sailing through the window of a carriage and being carried on to Cloghroe or St Ann’s.

“But there was nothing imaginary about the very real links which existed between the line and golfers’ travel arrangements. The 10 a.m. Sunday train out of Western Road was the ‘Golfers Special’ for years and they held an almost proprietorial claim to the first class coaches.

“In the lowly third class went the hurlers for Coachford or Blarney, the bowlplayers for Cloghroe or Dripsey; the harrier men for Tower Bridge; the birdcatchers for the valleys of the Shournagh and Sheep Rivers. But the nattily-dressed plus-foured golfers were the exclusive patrons of the comfortably upholstered ‘first’ and we fear they didn’t always hide their attitude of superiority.

“However, they were often the victims of swift retribution when, with typical Cork wit and satire, derisive epithets were hurled at them from moving carriage windows as they played along the adjacent fairways, and God help the golfers of eccentric stance, lanky limb or over-generous posterior when those candid mobile onlookers were in merry mood.” said Mr McGrath.

The late Bishop of Honolulu, Dr John Scanlan, a native of Cloughphilip, near Tower, travelled on the Muskerry Tram in his secondary schooldays at North Monastery and he gave a vivid account of the daily trips to Cork City in an Evening Echo interview in 1968.

Bishop Scanlan said that the period of his schooldays (1920 era) was probably as interesting as any in Irish rail history. “We had the troubles, the black and tans and the civil war” he said. For example”, said the bishop “during this time, the bridge at Leemount, near the Anglers Rest, was partially demolished in an explosion during the Civil War and no train or car could get across.

“There was one place in the middle of the bridge over which pedestrians could pass. So everybody got out of one train to make the hazardous trip across to the other train. Footwork had to be steady, else one might find oneself in the pleasant waters of the River Lee, many feet below.” he added.

In that Evening Echo interview he also spoke of the train ticket collectors. “They were known as guards” he said “and they had to be very careful. When the guard finished checking the tickets in one carriage, he had to go outside that carriage to get to the next one.

“This was done while the train was moving” he added “The doors were at the end of the cars and opened in, so he pulled the door after him as he went out. He supported himself by hanging on to the iron bars attached to the car, standing on the narrow steps just outside the door. Then he swung himself onto the next car, supported himself the same way, pushed the door in and proceeded with his work in that car.

“The whole performance, because of the rocking and swaying of the cars, was dangerous, particularly as the guards were not young men and more particularly as the outside steps were often wet and slippery – Irish climate being what it is” added Bishop Scanlan.

Historian Finbarr O’Brien (Muskerry club member Neil’s father) from Tower was aged just ten years when the Tram ceased running and he recalled a few trips on the ‘Muskerry’. He said it was a special treat to be taken to Cork on the tram at Christmas time.

“Two of my brothers travelled on the last journey” he said. “They boarded the tram at the Tower Bridge halt and then went to Donoughmore and back to the Cork terminus at Western Road on its final return trip.” “In my childhood days” continued Finbarr “it was a great thrill to run down to Tower Bridge to see the trains pass.

“When they stopped at Tower we would stand on the bridge and peer over and make sure to ‘duck’ in time to avoid the big puff of smoke and steam as the engine passed under the bridge on its way to St Ann’s and beyond.

“The last time I travelled over the railway was when the rails were being lifted. The workmen had four wheeled ‘bogies’ which they used for pushing tools and rails along from one part of the line to another as they proceeded with demolition” Finbarr added.

In a Muskerry Golf Club book some years back, Frank Dorgan, now sadly deceased, wrote that the lay-out for most of the club’s nine holes course in the 1907 era was on his father Jerome’s family farm at Coolflugh, near Tower, - the remaining holes being on Timothy O’Keeffe’s land across the Abhann na Ghaorach river to the right of the Cloghroe to Cork road.

Mr Dorgan said that the Muskerry Light Railway link with Blarney, Coachford and Donoughmore was well established in 1907 and he added that the 1934 closure severed a historic link between club and railway. “So many stories have been told about the tram” he said “but for Muskerry members, especially the card players, there was no longer the cry from Dinny O’Brien in the bar to the effect that the train was leaving nearby Tower. There was a signal post below the clubhouse near the River Shournagh and Dinny would hear the loud noise or bang as this was changed. Money and cards, coats and bags would be grabbed in a panic and all would rush down the path to the station.

“Then the card game would resume in the carriage and would continue right to the terminus at Western Road. There the engine would be taken off, swung around on the turntable, and faced for the take-off in the morning. The station master, Tim O’Leary, would pop his head through the carriage window and admonish the players.

‘Don’t forget to put out the gas and bang the wicket after you’ he used to say. And so the card game would continue into the early hours and then there was the long walk home” continued Mr Dorgan. Wonderful memories indeed and ones that will be cherished through the ages.

Compiled by Tim O’Brien.

Farewell lament to the Muskerry Tram composed at the time of its demise in 1934.

Good-bye, good-bye old Hook an’ Eye Farewell o harnessed power; We knew full well the strain would tell, At fourteen miles an hour !

Sometimes you’d touch fifteen – too much, You couldn’t well outlast ’em; When there were snails between the rails, You very often passed ’em.

They’re sick and sore at Donoughmore, They weep at Coachford Junction; Away out west by the Angler’s Rest, Their fishing rods won’t function.

While at St Ann’s the porter scans, The up-line vainly hoping; Men sit and groan with hearts of stone, At Blarney, grimly moping.

Your own old bell has tolled your knell, You’ve lost your head of pressure; One final blow – then off you go, Good-bye old friend – and bless you!

Muskerry Golf Club and the MacKenzie connection.

alister mackenzie

World famous golf course architect Alister MacKenzie’s first major engagement in the South of Ireland, in 1924, was at the Muskerry club in County Cork when he presented plans for a course extension from nine holes to 18.

It followed the club’s purchase of land across the River Shournagh from Mr Michael Aherne of Dromasmole – a track popularly known as ‘The Hill’.

MacKenzie also recommended that two of the nine holes in play at the time be abandoned. So his overall plan then embraced 11 holes on the new terrain and this course lay out was approved by the club committee. And, despite some harsh weather conditions, the course was ready for play in the Spring of 1925.

A 1930 Muskerry booklet recorded the MacKenzie visit thus: “Dr McKenzie’s services were sought and secured for the first time in Southern Ireland and strikingly well has he performed his work as Muskerry’s 18 holes now form a bold and beautiful course capable of absorbing the interest and attention of any player no matter his handicap.

“The Doctor, after a march over the then gorse ground, returned to the pavilion and, whilst awaiting lunch, sat apart with paper and pencil. In that short interval he ‘roughed out’ eleven new holes and astonished the members present by placing before them his still crude but perfect design.

“The explanation was simple: everything was there to the eye of the master. Dr MacKenzie's opinion about the 8th hole (now the 6th ) is expressed in his report thus: If the hole is constructed according to my idea, it should make one of the best short holes in existence and will be of a somewhat similar type to the famous Eden hole at St Andrews.

Referring to the same hole (the present 6th) the Cork Examiner of the time had this to say: The tee for the new 8th hole is just in front of the clubhouse and the distance to the green is 180 yards.

That does not sound very formidable, and, of course, the actual length of the shot is not, but woe betide the player who is not absolutely accurate in direction and placing.

The reward for the good shot will be rich and the punishment for the bad one justly severe. In other words, the scales of justice will be evenly balanced and that is by no means always the case where golf holes are concerned.

A £2,500 scheme was approved for work on the 18 holes Muskerry venture but, as the weather was unkind, the expenditure ran to well over £3,000. The crisis was averted when a dozen members paid several years subscriptions in advance.

Assisting in the project were the Dorgan family and Tom Flynn, son of their farm labourer Johnny, who lived at a spot called the ‘garden’to the left of the one time 4th fairway (near the Cloghroe road).

They provided horses, ploughs and harrows to loosen the gorse and there was an amount of ground levelling as well. The late Ned McSweeney from Cloughphilip, a member of the Muskerry course staff for many years, was a young boy at the time and he often recalled the arduous task involved.

As was the case with most other courses, MacKenzie outlined the design and his construction crew carried out the instructions. Tuam, County Galway native Jack Fleming was head constructor and the group of workers involved in the Muskerry development had their accommodation base in Tower (at Crowleys licensed premises –now known as Aunties).

Fleming and company also carried out MacKenzie’s instructions for course development at the Cork, Monkstown and Douglas clubs as well as at Limerick and Lahinch.

muskerry course
The Muskerry Course in 1930

Alister MacKenzie, the man who played an influential role in Irish golf course design, was born of Scottish parents at Normanton, near Leeds in 1870. He worked for a while as a doctor in the Leeds area and, by the age of 22, was a member of the Headingley Club (1892) and, four years later he had joined Leeds.

He took on the post of Secretary at the Alwoodley club in Leeds in its formation year 1907 and was club captain in 1912.

MacKenzie had a craving for golf course architecture from his school days but he did not have the easiest of starts in his chosen field as having designed the Alwoodley course, the club’s committee called in another famous architect, Harry S Colt, to advise on his layout plans.

MacKenzie’s first Irish visit is understood to have been at the Malone club in Belfast but his stay was short lived as he got a call up to World War 1 duty (he had previously served in the Boer War 1899 to 1902). Involved in camouflage work – he had by now switched from the medical corps to the engineering scene.

He was back in Ireland in 1919 and drew up plans for the Royal County Down and Balmoral clubs in Ulster. A year later he was engaged by Knock – another Ulster club - and the Newcastle Ladies course in Co. Down was another MacKenzie project in 1923.

MacKenzie was appointed consulting architect to the Royal and Ancient Club, St Andrews in 1924.

a mackenzie designed green at the present 9th hole
A MacKenzie designed green at the present 9th hole

Work finished in Ireland, MacKenzie and his construction crew (Jack Fleming from Tuam, Galway included) concentrated on American courses, Australia and elsewhere and prior to his death in California (1934) he had played his part in designing the famous Augusta National course along with Bobby Jones.

Few can dispute his contribution to the game of golf as his name is permanently linked internationally with such courses as:

Pebble Beach (he remodelled the original course), Royal St Georges.

Sandwich, Kent (1925);

Australian G.C.,

Kensington, New South Wales;

Royal Melbourne.

Royal Adelaide (1926). Blairgowrie,

Royal Queensland, Brisbane (1927).

Charlie Chaplin Estate G.C.,

Beverly Hills,

Cypress Point Club,

Pebble Beach (bunkering),

Santa Cruz, San Francisco; (1929).

St Charles CC, Winnipeg;

Mar de Plata, Argentina;

Green Hills, California (1930).

Pittsburgh,

Sacramento,

Lake Placid Club, Palmetto, South Carolina (1931).

University of Michigan G.C.(1933).

Ohio State University G.C.,

Columbus (1934 - not completed until 1938);

Augusta National and many more.

Interestingly, when the Lahinch club approved major course development plans in the late 1990s, a stipulation was that the course, and particularly the greens, be restored to the MacKenzie design.

Today, an international Alister MacKenzie Appreciation Society exists – a worthy tribute to the memory of such a talented golf course designer who made such an impact worldwide.

Compiled by Tim O’Brien
James Bruen: A world class golfer.
Tim O’Brien takes up the story.

James-Bruen-Walker-Cup

Muskerry Golf Club cherishes its association with the great James Bruen – an amateur golfer hailed in the late 1930s as the greatest player in the world. And the club can justifiably share in his wonderful successes.

It was far seeing Muskerry officials who gave the talented youngster his first handicap of six - thus launching the Belfast born Presentation Brothers College, Cork student on the international stage.

The year was 1935 and Bruen had written to the Muskerry committee stating that he was now 15 years of age which qualified him for a handicap. He let it be known that he wanted to play competitive golf so he submitted the usual three cards for the club’s consideration.

However, the returns must have been so good that he was required to play a fourball with Colonel Dave Reynolds as partner against club captain Jerry Ryan and future star Dr Billy O’Sullivan and the officers were so impressed with his outstanding play that they allocated him a handicap of six.

Within 12 months, the 16 year old Muskerry star had become the first Irish player to win the British Boys Championship following a sensational 11 and 9 victory in the 36 holes final at Royal Birkdale.

The triumph was but the beginning as victory over the great John Burke of Lahinch in 1937 put Bruen into the record books as the youngest winner of the Irish Close Championship, held at Ballybunion, and he retained the title the following year at the Castle Club in Dublin, defeating another Corkman Redmond Simcox, Cork G.C.

walker cup team 1938

Bruen propelled Muskerry on to the world stage in 1938 when gaining a place on the Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team that defeated the Americans for the first time. His father received permission from the Presentation Brothers to release him from school for the Walker Cup week and such was the nature of Bruen’s performances in the trials that it is generally accepted that it was the brilliant Muskerry player who provided the inspiration for the stunning team victory.

Bruen had not seen the St Andrews course prior to the trials in May of that year and he returned 71 in the two practice rounds. A match followed against two other players and Bruen went round in a remarkable 68 shots to equal Bobby Jones’ 1927 course record.

The Daily Telegraph has this to say at the time: ‘One of the longest hitters in the game, Bruen played with a slight draw and reached the plateau green at the long fifth (530 yards) with a drive and a three iron and then holed the 12 foot putt for an eagle’.

At the conclusion of the trials, Henry Cotton, the former Open champion, had this to say: ‘Fancy a 17 year old scoring 282 in four rounds here. I know what a stern course it is; long, difficult and tricky, but here was a mere boy playing it with a wise head and a technique which left everyone gasping. I have not known a player to do such scores no matter what his age. Bruen has set a standard for all players.’

Renowned journalist and commentator Henry Longhurst proclaimed before the clash with the Americans that the visitors had the greatest team ever assembled and that the other side would be fortunate to get three points out of the 12 matches.

Said Longhurst after the match: ‘It was the psychological factor in the person of Bruen which had the effect of demonstrating to the other players on the side that the Old Course was not so difficult after all as this boy set an entirely new standard of golfing ability.’

And the team captain John Beck went further when he said that Bruen gave the Americans an inferiority complex. “They had heard of his phenomenal scoring on the Old Course even before they arrived” he added “and then they saw him continue to do these scores there”.

Bruen communicated with both Muskerry and Cork committees – he held membership with both clubs - as to whom he would represent in the various championships – and for three years in a row (1937 to 1939), he was the leading amateur in the Open Championship of Ireland. In 1939 also, he led the qualifiers in the British Open at St Andrews following some sensational performances.

Unfortunately, the War years were to interrupt a glittering international career but he was still able to turn in a magnificent performance in 1946 when winning the British Amateur Championship in the Cork Golf Club colours and Walker Cup honours also came his way in 1949 and 1951.

Bruen, in the meantime, remained the dominant figure in these islands - winning at will and setting course records all over the place leading British Open Champion Fred Daly to remark: “Bruen was a super golfer, clearly one of the greatest of his era. Had he turned professional he would have been in the Nicklaus, Palmer millionaire class.”

Commented Henry Cotton: “Most people who saw Bruen’s swing said it wouldn’t last but I saw immediately that when he got to the top, his right elbow came down to his right hip and his hands flashed the club head through with such speed that the ball was hit with the biggest carry you have ever seen – up to 300 yards.”

Eddie Hackett, a famous course architect, had this to say: “Jimmy Bruen was undoubtedly the most exciting and spectacular hitter of a golf ball I ever saw. He is only a legend with the present school of young players and more is the pity as his talent in shot production, intelligence on the course and dedication to hours and hours of practice would be a headline of inestimable value to aspiring players.”

Mick Power, the Muskerry international and Irish Close Champion in 1951, had this to say: “Jimmy Bruen was the greatest player I ever saw; he could go around the Island in 62, 63, 64, 65; anything more and he was only playing fair.”

Said Joe Carr, an all time great in Irish amateur golf: “Jimmy Bruen was one of the finest players in the world. Here in Ireland, he set a standard and we all tried to follow. He was a truly formidable opponent and made the impossible look almost routine.”

James-Bruens-club-head-speed
Bruen's Clubhead speed

Christy O’Connor snr had no doubt. “While I have always believed it difficult to compare performances in sport, in different eras, Jimmy Bruen would come very high, if not at the top of my list” he said. “In discussing his power, it has often been overlooked that he had finesse in every part of his game. Around the greens, he was delicately brilliant, and he was a better than average putter. He had complete confidence in his own ability.”

Added the great O’Connor, in a Sunday World column: “As professional at Royal Dublin, Bruen asked me to have a look at his swing. I watched him hit 40 or 50 balls with a five iron and they all finished within ten feet of each other. Yet, he was not happy and wanted advice on how to improve his technique.”

Birkdale was to prove a happy hunting ground for Bruen and a club booklet made this reference to him: ‘Birkdale’s deadly willow scrub must have quaked at the power of some of Bruen’s recovery work although it would be quite wrong to imply that his big, booming drives never saw the fairway. It was simply that Bruen’s swing could extricate him from places where weaker brethren heaved and hoped.”

What of the man himself ? In an interview with well known Belfast journalist Jack Magowan, Bruen related that as a youngster he had only one thought in mind – to hit the ball out of sight

. “I just belted it as hard as I could. The loop that everybody made such a fuss about was as natural as writing my name especially after four hours of non-stop practice every day, plus 18 holes afterwards. As a boy, I rarely hit my driver in practice. Most of the time I spent pitching and putting. The pitch and run was my favourite shot”.

On reputations, Bruen had this to say: “I played the course and not an opponent. My target was always a round of level fours or better which, nine times out of ten, would be good enough in matchplay. All this talk about good stroke players and good match players is so much bunkum. In my book there are only good golfers.”

Sadly, the great man himself passed away in 1972 at the young age of 52. The Muskerry club, in 1986, honoured James Bruen through the inauguration of a golden jubilee Bruen Memorial Youths competition to mark his great achievement in winning the British Boys Championship 50 years earlier. It was indeed a wonderful honour for me to discuss the memorial idea with James Bruen’s widow Nell and she was absolutely thrilled at the Muskerry move and she went further by presenting a cup to Conor O’Malley, club captain, and Jim McKenna, president, for the competition.

Bruen Cup 1944
The Bruen Memorial Cup

The cup held special significance for the family as it was the prize that James won on J J O’Grady’s Captain’s Prize day at Muskerry in 1944 when, off a plus five handicap, he scored a remarkable triumph in the 36 holes stableford competition with a 71 points (36 and 35) return.

The Bruen Memorial competition is still going strong and, in recent times, thanks to an initiative by club captain Maurice Leahy and Fergus Hannon, the Muskerry club has further strengthened the Bruen connection through the opening of the Bruen Corner which features a wonderful collection of memorabilia and photographs.

Nell Bruen, and family members, attended the opening ceremony which saw her deliver a powerful address in which she again paid tribute to the Muskerry club on their decision to allocate a handicap to her late husband in his teenage years.

Mrs Bruen also made presentations of specially commissioned club medals to the winners of competitions held during the year and the Bruen family also attended a specially prepared slide show highlighting James Bruen’s achievements in what can only be described as a glittering career.

James Bruen factfile

1934: A newspaper report has this to say of 14 years old James Bruen: "His golf is long, accurate and well controlled. If he progresses as he is doing now he will be Amateur champion at an early age.

It would be difficult for a good player to beat him today. We have been hoping for somebody like him to appear. Provided his father restrains his efforts and makes him aim at well controlled play we may yet produce, not a prodigy, but what Ireland has long been due to give us, namely, a real champion."

1936: James Bruen became the first Irish player to win the British Boys Championship (at Royal Birkdale). Seven up at the halfway stage against William Innes from Lanark, Bruen ended the contest by holing from 15 yards for an eagle three at the 27th. He was presented with a gold watch on his return to Muskerry and his handicap was set at scratch. Later in the year, Bruen set a course record of 66 at Muskerry.

1937: James Bruen reduced the Muskerry course record to 65 when winning the Mackesy Cup. Playing off plus two, he shot six birdies and an eagle and his card included nine threes.

1937: James Bruen had rounds of 73 and 74 to finish second in the St Georges Vase at Sandwich. Commented a reporter at the event: “A magnificent feat for one so young.

The reigning Boys champion clearly is a golfer of the highest promise. His swing, at first sight, is not prepossessing as there is a suspicion of lift and a shrugging movement of the shoulders but he comes through with a fine freedom and, though he hits very hard, he also goes very straight.”

1937: James Bruen was the leading amateur in the Irish Open Championship at Royal Portrush. The Cork Examiner reported: “Highlight of an exciting final day was the performance of 17 years old Cork golfer James Bruen. Though suffering from tonsillitis and advised by his doctor to withdraw, Bruen insisted on competing. His third round of 72 was a new course record and he beat this next time out with a magnificent 71.”

1937 and 1938: James Bruen, representing Muskerry, won back-to-back Irish Close Championships at Ballybunion and at The Castle Club in Dublin beating John Burke (Lahinch) and Redmond Simcox (Cork), respectively, in the finals. In winning at Ballybunion, he became the youngest player (17 years) to capture the title.

1938: Muskerry's James Bruen was selected on the Munster Team for the Senior Interprovincial Series at Portmarnock.

1938: James Bruen put all others in the shade with a round of 68 in the Walker Cup trial at St Andrews. His score equalled the record held by the great American Bobby Jones when he won his first Open there in 1927. His total for four rounds was three strokes better than what Jones had achieved. A letter was received at Muskerry from the Glasgow Herald seeking information on the feats of James Bruen.

Bruen was a member of the British and Irish Walker Cup team that defeated the United States for the first time. Other team members on that marvellous occasion at St Andrews were: John Beck (Sundridge Park) captain, Harry Bentley (Hesketh), Leonard Crawley (Brancepeth Castle), Alex Kyle (Sand Moor), Frank Pennink (Royal Ashdown Forest), Gordon Peters (Fereneze), Charles Stowe (Penn), Cecil Ewing (County Sligo) and Hector Thomson (Williamwood).

Bruen was the leading amateur in the Irish Open at Portmarnock – a championship won by Bobby Locke with Henry Cotton as runner-up.

1939: In March, it was announced by the Muskerry committee that James Bruen would be entering the British Amateur Championship at Hoylake, the Irish Amateur Close Championship at Rosses Point and the Open Championship of Ireland at Royal County Down.

Bruen set a new course record of 67 in the Cork Scratch Cup qualifying round at Little Island. He had halves of 33 and 34 and his card contained nothing worse than a four.

1939: James Bruen won the Woodbrook Cup at Muskerry with a fantastic score of 63 gross – a round that included eight birdies and an eagle.

Playing off plus six, Bruen set a new course record of 66 (six under par for the reconstructed course) in the second round of the President’s Prize competition at Muskerry.

Bruen led the qualifiers in the British Open at St Andrews with rounds of 69 (Old Course new record) and 70 and his 139 total placed him four strokes ahead of Henry Cotton, Lawson Little of the U.S. and Percy Alliss.

In the Championship proper, he had rounds of 72, 75, 75 and 76 (he had a nine at the 6th in the fourth round) to finish 12th overall. Interestingly, his six rounds total (qualifying included) was eight strokes better than that achieved by any other player.

1939: James Bruen set a new record of 66 in the opening round of the British Open at Newcastle and the score prompted a telegram from Henry Cotton. “Glad I’m not there. Go on handing it out. Terrific stuff.”

1944: James Bruen won the 36 holes Muskerry Captain’s Prize with stableford scores of 40 and 41 points. Taking his plus five handicap into account, his 35 and 36 returns gained him victory by a point over E C Daly (5), M B McHugh (5), Jimmy Lee (10) and P J Oliver (16).

James Bruen was equally proficient at pitch and putt and set a course record of 17 in a nine hole competition at the newly formed Fountainstown club in Co. Cork.

1946 presentation to James Bruen
Muskerry 1946 Presentation to James Bruen

1946: James Bruen, representing Cork Golf Club, won the British Amateur Championship and a presentation was made to him by Muskerry President Michael J Kiernan on his return.

Mr Kiernan commented : “In this triumph, James Bruen faced many world champions and for beating them he deserves the thanks of the club and of the country. He re-asserted his claim to being the world’s foremost amateur golfer, a claim established before the War.”

Bruen expressed thanks to Muskerry and said “Had it not been for Muskerry, I doubt that I would be here tonight. It was the club that first gave me a handicap”.

He proposed a toast to the members of the Muskerry team that won the Irish Senior Cup for the first time a few weeks earlier.

I will leave the final word with Pat Ward Thomas, author of the outstanding book “Masters of Golf” who commented: “Bruen was the most fascinating golfer I have ever seen or probably will ever see. There was no limit to what he might have achieved had not the War come and had he so desired.”
mick-power-wins-irish-close
Mick Power wins Irish Close Championship in 1951

Mick Power made them all sit up.

A 1985 article penned by Irish Examiner golf correspondent Charlie Mulqueen.

He was never, perhaps, the most athletic looking, but when Mick Power, the Muskerry sportsman who lit up the Irish amateur golfing scene for close on 20 years after World War 2, clicked into action he made even the most disinterested sit up and take notice.

Mick was born in 1911 and grew up at the Douglas Golf Club, where his father Joseph was steward.

So he was swinging a club from an early age, although remarkably he didn't take up the game seriously until he was 28 or 30.

Having had his schooling at Douglas N.S. and the North Monastery, Mick took up employment at Dunlops, where he worked contentedly for 40 years, appropriately enough in the golf ball department.

“It was only when a few friends urged me to go down to Kinsale with them that I took up golf seriously.

“Probably because of my early days at Douglas, it came easily to me and when I joined Kinsale, they started me off immediately at a handicap of one.

I played a lot, winning scratch cups in Cork, Rosslare and Kerry in the one year and when Muskerry started their senior cup team straight after the war I moved on there” he recalls.

Even though Mick had a most unorthodox grip with as many as four fingers fully showing, a la Harry Bradshaw, he immediately made his presence felt.

Muskerry at the time had some fine players, notably Dr Billy O’Sullivan and Harry Rice and they duly won the Irish Senior Cup in 1946, beating Portmarnock in the final.

The other members of the panel were Michael Cronin, Rev Fr John Hegarty, Michael J Hegarty and Bertie Dorgan.

Mick-Power-and-james-bruen-
Mick Power and James Bruen

Now Power was known nationally and his performance in the 1947 Senior Cup when Muskerry retained the title and also when he won a number of good matches in the Interprovincial series the same week, earned him the first of 38 international caps.

He recalls that auspicious occasion at Hoylake: “Like most times I represented Ireland, I picked up about four or five points.

“I did especially well in foursomes play, partnered chiefly by Dr Billy O’Sullivan, Harry Rice and once by Frank Webster”.

One of the most important championships in Power’s career was the British Amateur Championship at Portmarnock in 1949 and eventually won by Ulsterman Sam McCready.

But it was a title that Mick Power had within his grasp and a week of which he has quite vivid memories.

“I won my first two rounds fairly easily before coming up against an English international, Ian Patey. It was a great match with a world of dykes and I remember being very nervous that day.

On the 11th, I left a long putt for a birdie on the very lip of the cup and Patey came over and said ‘God, Micky, that was very close!’.

He went back to study his putt and when he looked up at the hole again he was just in time to see my ball dropping into the hole” said Power.

Mick smiled broadly at the memory of that incident which Patey accepted sportingly and they were square at the 18th, then a par five which Power almost eagled with an 18 foot putt that again stayed on the edge of the hole.

However, the stymie was in play at the time and Mick’s ball was directly in Patey’s line. He probably would have failed from 18 feet but now his task was impossible and he had to concede.

“I apologised sincerely to him as I didn’t want it to end that way and was trying to hole the putt and nothing else.

“As it transpired, I was to have less happy memories of the stymie before the week ended” says Mick.

On he moved into the 5th round in the company of three other Irishmen, Brennie Scannell of Woodbrook, McCready, who was entered from Sunningdale and P G Campbell of Grange who had beaten Dr Billy O’Sullivan at the 18th in the fourth round.

Power defeated F Francis of Sunningdale by 2/1 and then J Pressly of Fraserburgh by 3/2 to go into the last eight.

At this stage Scannell lost to the great American and 1947 champion Willie Turnesa of Knollwood.

Huge crowds then flocked to see Power take on Turnesa and McCready’s clash with another superb American player, Frank Stranahan. McCready won that match by a spanking 4/3 and Power lost at the 19th to Turnesa.

Recalled Mick: “he was a small man but a lovely golfer. There was a very strong wind that day but we had a great match and were all square after 18. At the 19th both of us drove into the light rough.

I played a nine iron for my second shot but the club turned in my hand and the ball found a bunker from where I came out to about 14 feet.

Turnesa missed the green also and chipped up to about eight feet but I was confident he wouldn’t sink it.

I didn’t think he was in my line but what, with the borrow on my putt and wind blowing right across me, my ball hit his and knocked it up a couple of feet and that was that.”

Defeat it may have been on the greater international scene but in domestic championships Mick’s greatest days were still to come.

By now he was taking in all the championships, more often than not accompanied by his great Muskerry friend, Larry McCarthy, another international player.

Power’s first major success was in the South of Ireland in 1950 when he defeated the late Paddy Leyden (‘a lovely little fellow’) by a margin of 12 and 10.

Commented the Cork Examiner reporter: There were strong winds and rain beating in from the Atlantic and Power played flawless golf for the handful of a gallery which braved the elements in the first 18 holes.

The Muskerry man's first half figures were phenomenal under the conditions and contained just one five. He was six up after nine and 11 after 18.

Leyden was to avenge that humiliation in the finals of 1953 and 1957 – in one of which Power recalls three putting on no fewer than 13 occasions.

What was the strongest aspect of Mick’s game at this time, I wondered?

“Well, I was always long off the tee and putted well, but perhaps even more important, I never fretted: my approach was, if I’m to be beaten, I’ll be beaten and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“It was a psychology that meant a great deal when I faced Joe Carr in the final of the Irish Close at Little Island in 1951” he said.

As can be imagined, there was a big crowd there that day and most were rooting for Power. He took an early lead, was back to just one up at the 6th in the afternoon round but went away again to win 3 and 2.

“That was a great thrill, for Carr was a fine player and to beat him in front of a Cork crowd was something special. I didn’t realise until afterwards that there was a lot of money on the match” remarked Power.

irish close final cork examiner report
Irish Close final Cork Examiner report

The year 1951 was certainly a glory one for Mick as, in addition to the Close triumph, he also won the East of Ireland at Baltray, posting a then record total of 297.

In 1952, he won the South again, this time defeating the up and coming Norman Drew by 1 up over 36 holes.

Drew, who would shortly become the first player to represent Britain and Ireland in the Walker and Ryder Cups, was the popular favourite.

As they left the 10th tee in the afternoon with Power one down, they overheard a lady earnestly telling her male companions….“the young fellow will beat the old fellow now.”

The remark didn’t upset Power, but he remembered it as he stood over a 15 footer on the 10th green ‘for a birdie that had to be got.

In it went and I had a two at the 11th, a three at the 13th and fours at the next two to be two up with three to play.

I hung on to win by holing from three feet at the 18th.. That’s another victory that I particularly enjoyed for I loved the Lahinch atmosphere.”

irish team-home-countries
Irish team-Home-Countries Championship, including Muskerry's Mick Power and Larry McCarthy.

Mick Power was so good in those early years of the 1950s that it is indeed surprising that he didn’t win a place on the Walker Cup team.

Having beaten the champions of England and Scotland in 1951, when he led Ireland as winner of the Close championship, he was on the threshold of this great honour.

For some inexplicable reason, he was put back to number four against Wales, lost his match and missed selection.

Said Mick: “The atmosphere in golf has changed very much for the better since those days”. Nor was he the only Irishman to be hard done by Walker Cup selection committees.

Power’s attitude towards selectors can’t be helped by his omission from the Irish team that contested the Internationals at Killarney in 1953.

“I was 41 at the time and perhaps they thought I was too old” he says “but I didn’t let it upset me and I was back in favour again in 1954”.

Muskerry’s Senior Cup triumph in 1953 is a distinctly happy memory. We won it by beating Portmarnock up in Sligo; Larry McCarthy and Harry Rice wanted to play two particular men in the final, assuring the rest of us that they would win.

We let them off and they came up trumps and I won my match too.” Muskerry also won the Barton Shield that year.

Mick continued to compete through the 50s and with good results too, winning a number of senior cup matches against distinguished golfers half his age.

Mick-Power-former-south-of ireland champion presented with the blazer at lahinch in 1987
Mick Power former South of Ireland champion presented with the blazer at Lahinch in 1987

In 1987, Mick Power was presented with a past champions blazer at Lahinch, in commemoration of his marvellous triumph in both the 1950 and 1952 South of Ireland Championships.

Commenting on the 1950 victory, his wife Eileen had this to say "As you know, Mick never drank but on the eve of the final he was taken very ill with a stomach upset.

“I decided he would benefit from a brandy and port and it was mixed for me by Joe Linnane of the Claremont Hotel, where we were staying.

It did the trick. He got a good night's sleep and had a lovely, lazy swing for his final battle with Paddy Leyden."
Larry McCarthy A heroic Muskerry figure
larry mccarthy international 1955
A presentation to Larry McCarthy in June 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of his senior international debut. The occasion also served as a reminder to members of his magnificent contribution to the Muskerry club.

He played his part in the historic Irish Senior Cup and Barton Shield double in 1953. Muskerry’s fortunes were always foremost in Larry’s thoughts in this interview with Tim O’Brien.

He was delighted when Liam Higgins gained international status before turning professional in 1971. He was also pleased that other club members donned the green singlet of Ireland. And performed with distinction in later years.

Larry was capped 20 times for his country but made little of this achievement. He was more concerned with Muskerry’s future. He expressed delight that the club’s prospects looked bright.

The number of low handicap players had shown a welcome increase. He hoped they would spend a little more time on practice, however. Larry, who was born in Kenmare in 1920, got an early introduction to the sport.

His father, Master Mike, was honorary secretary of the local club in the 1932 to 1944 period. And, with his brother John and sisters Mona and Eily, the fairways soon had a big McCarthy presence. Larry was to make an immediate impact.

His first participation in a club competition is recorded in the Kenmare club’s competition book. Aged 16 and playing off a handicap of 20, he shot an 83 gross in a singles event.

Later in the day, he partnered his brother John to second place in the fourball. By the Summer of 1939 his handicap was down to ten. He had also joined the staff of the Munster and Leinster Bank. And served in Ennistymon, Galway, Lahinch and later in Cork.

While in Galway, Larry won the prestigious Scratch Cup. Beating the legendary John Burke of Lahinch in the 1945 final.

On his transfer to Cork, he had no hesitation in joining Muskerry. His golfing career was to reach great heights. He was at his very best in his international debut against England at Killarney in 1953. England were red hot favourites that day. They had no fewer than seven current or former Walker Cup players in their ranks. Ireland, however, were to confound the critics and scored an astonishing victory. Astonishing in that the Irish side had lost the foursomes 4-1. A deficit of that magnitude is rarely overcome.

In the afternoon, however, the English reckoned without that great Irish fighting spirit. Remarkably, the visitors lost eight of the ten singles.

Ireland had household names like; Joe Carr. Norman Drew. Dr Billy O’Sullivan, who also played with Muskerry. John Glover. Cecil Ewing. George Crosbie. Paddy Leydon. Larry McCarthy

They played like men inspired to win their matches to leave Ireland overall winners by a 9-6 margin. Larry’s impeccable short game was a big talking point. That aspect of his game came as no surprise to Muskerry members. They had regularly watch him get up and down in two strokes from 70/80 yards.

Early morning practice, without ever being late for work, was a key factor in an ever improving game. This dedication was to see Larry win an Irish Senior Cup medal with Muskerry in 1947.

The club had retained the All-Ireland pennant won for the very first time the previous year. More successes followed at provincial level in the run up to 1953. Muskerry achieved the magnificent All-Ireland double of Senior Cup and Barton Shield.

It is so difficult to win any national title in the one year, but bringing off the double was truly fantastic. Muskerry was the first Munster club to achieve the feat.

Larry was central to those magnificent achievements in what was a glorious decade for Muskerry.

Starring roles were played too by: Mick Power. Billy O’Sullivan. Michael Hegarty. Jack Lawlor. Harry Rice. Frank Casey. Eddie O’Flynn. Michael Cronin. Bertie Dorgan. Fr John Hegarty.

Larry also reached the semi-final of the Irish Amateur Open Championship at Royal Dublin. Only to lose at the 19th to the great Cecil Ewing of Co Sligo. Playing days at the top level over, Larry was not content to hang up his boots as he went on to serve administrative golf.

He was non-playing captain of the Irish team for the Home Internationals at Muirfield (1976), Hillside (1977) and Ashburnham (1978). Significantly, the introduction of panel training coincided with Larry’s last year as team captain.

In his report to the Golfing Union of Ireland, he intimated that the performance of the team was a big improvement on previous years.

1977 larry mccarthy captain irish team
A historic year for Muskerry in 1977 as Larry McCarthy was Irish team captain and Pat Foleythe Golfing Union of Ireland President.

Larry’s Muskerry colleague Pat Foley, the GUI President at the time, was a strong advocate of panel training as well. Between them, they won wide support for the concept.

Morale was high, keeness to win was very evident and all team members were very fit. Larry attributed this improvement to the national panel programme and, as we know, team panels and coaching are all the rage today. It can be said that Larry and Pat were ahead of their time.

Muskerry took great pride in such enlightened thinking. Hopefully, Larry’s chequered career will serve as an inspiration to club representatives. Seeking, not just individual glory, but hoping to add to the All-Ireland team success tally.

George Crosbie, writing in a book I compiled for Muskerry in 1985, had this to say of Larry: “I first met him when he appeared on an always excellent Muskerry Senior Cup team.

“Of course, I was one of the ‘auld enemy’ from Little Island. “Although we were mortal enemies on the course, we were in fact great pals off. “That went for all the Muskerry players.

“Somehow the fates were to bring Lar and myself very close indeed”. Crosbie went on: “We were selected to play on the Irish team at Killarney in 1953. “I remember my father proudly driving the two of us down.

“My father was every bit as keen on how Larry would perform as he was about me. “We did not win the championship but we did ok.

Larry did even better the following year at Portcawl where he gained four and a half points from six. “I did not play in 1954 but we both celebrated a great victory in 1955 at Birkdale. “The Irish team was given little chance.

“Not included’ Crosbie said ‘were such names as Jimmy Bruen, Billy O’Sullivan, Mick Power and Brenny Scannell. The late Willie Gill, our Captain, took Larry and myself aside during the boat journey from Dublin to Liverpool.

He told us that we would be playing the last foursomes for all three matches. And that we would play in all of the singles as well. It was some vote of confidence as the team contained 12 players with just ten playing.

We won the series that time by tieing with England and beating Scotland and Wales. A feat not repeated until 1983 in Portmarnock. The Welsh match was noted for its finish.

After performing well, we still needed three more matches to win the game. Paddy Leyden was two down with about four to go. Larry was also two down with five to go.

I was two down with three to go. Believe it or not, we all won. I can tell you we knocked off a few gins and tonics that evening” said Crosbie.

George Crosbie said he had often been asked how good was Larry. “Put it this way” Crosbie added “he was no Jimmy Bruen, or Joe Carr, or Cecil Ewing, or indeed a Billy O’Sullivan but then none of us were.

What he was though, was a straight hitter, with a wonderful short game. Above all, he had the heart of a lion, very difficult to beat and a great member of a team.”

Larry was a real friend to all who came in contact with him”, Crosbie added.

50 aniversary of irish senior cup
Muskerry presentation to Larry McCarthy in 2003 of the 50th anniversary of his Irish Senior Cup victory.
Muskerry’s All-Ireland Team successes.

Irish Senior Cup:
1946, 1947 and 1953.

Barton Shield:
1953 and 2014.

Irish Junior Cup:
1954, 1962 and 2007.

Jimmy Bruen Shield:
2007.

Pierce Purcell Shield:
1971 and 1978.

Tim O’Brien delves through the records.
Muskerry’s Irish Senior Cup triumph over Belvoir Park (Belfast) at Royal Dublin in June 1946 marked the club’s first All-Ireland team success.
The team members on that historic day were:
Mick Power. Michael Hegarty (Captain). Harry Rice. Michael Cronin. Dr Billy O'Sullivan. Bertie Dorgan and Fr John Hegarty played in the Munster series but were unable to travel for the final.

1946 all ireland winning muskerry winning team
1946 All Ireland Muskerry winning team

Muskerry had just one supporter - Frank Dorgan – on that wonderful day at Royal Dublin. His was the only picture taken of the team at the time.

“In Mick Hegarty's match, which he won, there was a wonderful example of sportsmanship by the Muskerry man. Mick was also the club captain.

“At a critical stage of the match, Hegarty was in the rough off the tee. A half seemed certain when he played a good shot to the green. “However, and unnoticed by his opponent or anyone else, his ball moved ever so slightly at address. “Hegarty sportingly called a penalty and conceded the hole” said Frank.

Muskerry went on to retain the Irish Senior Cup the following year (1947) defeating Sutton at Lahinch.

Team:
Mick Power. Dr Billy O’Sullivan. Harry Rice. Larry McCarthy. Fr John Hegarty.

1953 all ireland double winning muskerry  team
1953 double All Ireland Muskerry winning Team.

Muskerry brought off a wonderful double in 1953. The Munster Barton Shield and Senior Cup finals were staged at Ballybunion.

Muskerry team that defeated Limerick in the ‘Barton’: Mick Power. Michael Hegarty. Larry McCarthy. Frank Casey.

Power, McCarthy and Hegarty were again to the fore in the Senior Cup defeat of Lahinch. After that outstanding double, it was off to Rosses Point for the All-Ireland series. Here, magnificent Muskerry went on to win both titles. The first club in the South of Ireland to achieve the feat.

Warrenpoint were Muskerry’s victims in the ‘Barton’. Power, McCarthy and Harry Rice gained the all important points against Portmarnock in the Senior Cup final.

Also making a huge contribution over the weekend were:
Billy O'Sullivan. Rev Fr John Hegarty. Jack Lawlor.

Another golden year in 1954 as Muskerry won the Irish Junior Cup for the first time.
The panel comprised:
Brendan Brennan. Dermot O'Mahony. J D Murphy. Jack Glynn. Ned Keniry. P J Ahern.

Muskerry defeated Rathfarnham in the semi-final and Knock in the final at Carlow They had earlier defeated Lahinch in the Munster final when Ned Keniry gained the winning point at the 20th.

1962-Irish-Junior-Cup winning Muskerry Team
1962-Irish-Junior-Cup winning Team

The Irish Junior Cup was back in Muskerry again in 1962.
Team members:
Alf Keary. John O'Shaughnessy. Brian Cantwell. Pa O'Donoghue. Paudie Linehan.

Reserve Ned Keniry was the only link with the successful 1954 team.

The testing Royal Portrush links was the national decider venue.
Muskerry accounted for Milltown of Dublin in the semi-final.
And Belfast club Fortwilliam in the final.
The selectors kept faith with the side that earned them successes over Douglas, Mallow, Cork, Dungarvan, Lahinch (Munster final at Ballybunion).

A moment to treasure for club President, Eamonn O'Carroll and Captain, Jim O'Rourke.
And an occasion thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Team member Paudie Linehan told me that the celebrations lasted well into the night.
Renditions of "Kevin Barry" and the "Sash" disturbed the normally austere Royal Portrush clubhouse surroundings, he said.
Paudie (pictured above,second from left, in the 1962 Team) formed part of an Irish seniors selection in 1993.
The team engaged an American selection in a representative match. Cork Golf Club international John Fitzgibbon captained the Irish side.

1971 All Ireland winning Muskerry Pierce Purcell Team
1971 All Ireland winning Muskerry Pierce Purcell Team at Rosses Point

In 1971, Muskerry became the first Munster club to achieve national glory in the Pierce Purcell Shield.
They had gained a provincial pennant in inaugural year (1970).

The semi-final pairings in the All-Ireland series at Rosses Point against Massereene were:
Frank Cronin and David Bradley.
Tom C. Murphy and Dan Quane.
Kevin Quinlan and Joe Grey.
Donal Healy and Tom Casey.
D J Murphy and Pat Casey.
John Taylor and Peter O’Regan played in the final against Grange.
En route to finals day Muskerry defeated Dooks, Bandon, Kinsale, Douglas, Monkstown and Shannon (in the Munster final at Lahinch).
Commented an elated Peter O'Regan, club captain and team member:
"The victory was memorable and historic” he said.

“Muskerry had become the first club in the country to achieve All-Ireland successes at:
Senior Cup.

Barton Shield.

Junior Cup.

Pierce Purcell Shield.

“They were the only national championships being competed for at that time." Peter added.
Frank Cronin and Dave Bradley went undefeated through the campaign.
The winning point in the final was achieved by Tom Casey and Donal Healy.

1978-All-Ireland-Pierce purcell winning team
Supporters enjoy the All Ireland Pierce Purcell winning occasion at Galway

Muskerry’s second All-Ireland Pierce Purcell Shield triumph was in Galway in 1978.
It brought the Muskerry club’s national titles haul to eight.
On this occasion, they made the best use of home advantage to beat Dungarvan and Tralee on Munster finals day.
In the national finals Muskerry accounted for Portstewart and Roscommon.
Panel: Joe Grey - he also figured in that epic 1971 triumph.
Charlie Hegarty. David Hughes. Jerry O'Connell. Kieran Casey. John Conway. Jimmy Murphy. Dave Leahy. Finbarr Gannon. Gus Lehane. John O'Brien. Diarmuid MacCarthy. Liam Harkin.

2007-Munster-and-All ireland trophies
2007-Munster-and-All Ireland trophies

Golden double at Shandon Park, Belfast. A double All-Ireland triumph in the club’s Centenary Year 2007.

Yes, that was the fantastic achievement by Muskerry teams.
They won both the Irish Junior Cup and Jimmy Bruen Shield at Shandon Park, Belfast.
The victories brought the club’s All-Ireland pennant tally to 10.
The trip North that year was extra special.
Meticulous preparation, strength in depth of panels, amazing team spirit and inner belief was engendered by team captains Tom Casey and Maurice Leahy.
As well as coach Fred Twomey and managers Diarmuid Linehan and Jackie Solan.
Defeat was never contemplated.
The players had experienced wonderful support in the qualifying rounds at Munster venues during a long summer.
In particular, on provincial finals day in Tralee.
Here, the club’s 2020 captain Brian Twomey gained the all-important winning point in the final.
But even they must have been surprised at the magnificent number of supporters that then made their way North.
They travelled by road, rail, air and sea and outnumbered the combined forces of all the other competing clubs.
And how the men in the Muskerry singlets responded.
The Junior Cup quintet were first into action and accounted for Balbriggan in the semi-final.

Team members:
Eoghan O’Callaghan.
Daniel Hallissey.
David Lane.
Gordian Barry.
Ger O’Shea.

Muskerry overcame Balbriggan in the semi-final.
This success set up a final with Ulster champions Belvoir Park.
O’Callaghan and Lane gained early points only for Belvoir Park to draw level.
So, with the score at 2-2, the outcome then depended on Gordian Barry’s clash with Alan McMillen.
And how well the 15 year old dealt with the pressure.
Winning the 14th and 15th to build on a one hole advantage.
A half at the next was the signal for tremendous scenes of celebration.
The followers were in full flow; there was no containing them now.
Club captain Jim O’Driscoll, club president Tom Philpott, lady captain Mary Healy and chairman Pat Sheppard were wonderful ambassadors.
The rendition of the Muskerry anthem in the clubhouse after the cup presentation just had to be experienced. A victory to savour.
Especially as the team did not have the advantage of one home match in the entire campaign.

2007 Winning Irish Junior Cup team
2007 Winning Irish Junior Cup team

The first half of a dream double had been achieved.
The Bruen Shield team, including four of the victorious junior cup side – O’Callaghan, Hallissey, Lane and Barry - then set about their task.
Tullamore, the Leinster champions, provided the semi-final opposition but they had to taste defeat.
Paul Herlihy/Denis Lynch.
Jimmy Hornibrook/Neil O’Brien.
Gordian Barry/Jackie Solan gained the crucial three points. Muskerry were now in the final against local team Scrabo.
They were also celebrating their centenary but were without a national title to their name.
To say that the decider was an epic and nerve wracking affair would be an understatement.
The advantage swung from one side to the other.
The deadlock was finally broken at the 20th hole in the last match.
David Lane and Jerry O’Callaghan had stormed to a massive 7 and 5 win.
It gave Muskerry the tonic of an early lead.
Eoghan O’Callaghan (Jerry’s son) and 17 year old Daniel Hallissey performed splendidly to get home at the 17th.
All then depended on the Jimmy Hornibrook and Neil O’Brien clash with Nigel Carson and Ross Henderson.
It did not auger well for the Muskerry men in the early stages.
They were three down after as many holes but they fought back magnificently to level matters by the tenth.
They were still level playing the par three 13th .
They looked like falling in arrears again until O’Brien rattled in a 30 foot putt for an inspirational half.
A defining moment in an epic battle for supremacy.
No place for the fainthearted as the Muskerry pair edged ahead at the next only to lose the 15th.
A superb up and down from sand at the 16th kept them level.
Scrabo had one hand on the cup at the next when the Cork pair finished in a water hazard off the tee.
Scrabo also had their problems.
After a superb second over trees to a greenside bunker, they proceeded to play two poor strokes.
They had to settle for a six.
Nevertheless, it appeared good enough for a half.
Hornibrook, however, rolled in a fantastic putt from off the green for a stunning win in bogey.
Muskerry were now one up playing the last.

It was their wonderful supporters turn to eye the coveted prize.
There were a few more twists in this marvellous encounter, however.
Hornibrook and O’Brien encountered problems with trees and a greenside bunker at the 18th .
Scrabo did enough to send the game into sudden death.

Advantage Scrabo again at the 19th as they were comfortably on in two.
Muskerry’s pitch shot rolled through the lightning fast green and down a slope at the back.
It was here, however, that Muskerry’s never say die attitude came to the fore.
After a brilliant O’Brien chip, Hornibrook cooly rolled in the par putt across the sloping surface.
An escape perhaps but it was advantage Muskerry after the tee shots at the 20th. Scrabo did well to punch a second shot through a plantation to within 30 yards of the green.
Muskerry, with the better tee shot from Hornibrook, had to be careful.
Anything left of the green could spell trouble.
No problem for O’Brien’s as his second shot finished in the ideal position, just short of the green.
Advantage Muskerry until Scrabo produced a magnificent third from the rough to within eight feet of the flag.
Pressure back on Muskerry.
Hornibrook and O’Brien were equal to the occasion and it fell to the latter to stroke in a beauty for par.
Not surprisingly, in the tension packed atmosphere, Scrabo’s great attempt for a half missed by an agonising inch or so.
Muskerry had been crowned Jimmy Bruen Shield champions for the first time.

2007 bruen all ireland cup winners
2007 Bruen All Ireland Cup winners
The victory set the seal on a never to be forgotten week in Belfast.
The celebrations did everybody proud.
And, capping it all, a wonderful reception awaited the team heroes back home.

Team-captains-Irish-Junior cup bruen shieldd
Homecoming Tom Casey and Maurice Leahy
The Bruen victory was, of course, extra special for the club.
The competition commemorated the great Jimmy Bruen.
Fittingly, Bruen’s son Chris, attended at Shandon Park donning a Muskerry jumper.

Nell Bruen with All Ireland James Bruen Shield
Nell Bruen with the All Ireland James Bruen Shield

Back at Muskerry, Bruen’s widow Nell delivered a wonderful speech. The feelings expressed captivated the entire attendance – young and old.

Muskerry-2014-celebrating-the Barton Shield Victory
Muskerry bridge a 61 year Barton Shield gap

Club captain Thomas Healy relives the wonderful achievement.
The 2014 Barton squad consisted of:

Dave O’Donovan.
Niall Gorey.
Daniel Hallissey.
John Waldron.

Conor Riordan. Shane Whooley.

Preparations were initiated under the tutelage of Greg O’Sullivan and Gearoid Walsh.
Weekly practice sessions and hard fought trials honed the competitive match sharpness of the panel. By the time June 28th came around, the team management were confident that their team were ready to kick off their campaign. Douglas Golf Club was host to the Cork Area section. Muskerry drew Macroom in round one. Muskerry’s first pairing of O’Donovan and Gorey kicked off proceedings. Hallissey and Waldron anchored the team. Neither the team nor the order of the pairings would change over the next seven matches. Muskerry went on to beat Macroom by six holes. Next up was Cork Golf Club - one of the toughest teams that Muskerry could meet. The match didn’t disappoint and the crowd were treated to a thrilling contest. All looked lost for the Cork team on the 18th. But they produced an amazing birdie recovery from a rhododendrum bush to take the match down the 19th. Here, Hallissey holed a 5 foot putt for a solid par 4 and Cork missed a putt of similar distance. Muskerry were through to play Mallow in the next round. Against Mallow, the team was once again pushed all the way. They had to play their best golf to prevail over a strong team. Muskerry’s first pair played great golf and closed out their match one up with a brilliant birdie. However, another great birdie by Mallow in the second match took the game once again into tie holes. Muskerry’s second pairing was called on once more to show their mental fortitude. A great second shot into a strong wind on the 20th by Waldron set up the win. Muskerry were now through to the Cork Area final against Castlemartyr. This match was another tight affair and followed a now familiar pattern. The first Muskerry pairing off to a fast start, 2 up after 12. The second pair started more slowly, 2 down after ten. The match turned on the 11th. Muskerry’s second pairing, Hallissey and Waldron, made an unbelievable par when in trouble. Castlemartyr three putted from 15 feet. This two hole swing was crucial. Muskerry held on to win by two holes. They were through to the Munster semi-finals in Shannon Golf Club. A week after the Barton Area final, Muskerry’s junior cup team qualified for their second successive Munster semi-final. All thanks to an incredible finish to their area final match against Cork. The match was level at two all and Muskerry were in deep trouble in the deciding match. John McSweeney was two down with two to play at Douglas. Worse still, John’s opponent was only two feet from the flag at the 17th A birdie, and overall honours for Cork, looked a certainty. Astonishingly, however, John holed his second shot from the middle of the fairway for an eagle. He then went on to birdie the next two holes to win an amazing match for Muskerry on the 19th. Muskerry now had two teams heading for Shannon for Munster finals day. There was great support on the day. Unfortunately the Junior Cup team, led by Ger O’Shea, just came up shy. Losing to a birdie on 18th in the final match against Castletroy. It was the second time in two years that the team were beaten by the eventual All-Ireland winners. The Barton Shield team, however, ensured that Muskerry would not leave Shannon empty handed. The quartet produced two great back to back performances. On the Saturday morning Muskerry played Ballybunion and held on for a one hole win in a high quality match. In the white heat of battle, all four pairings birded the 18th hole. Dave O’Donovan and Niall Gorey won their match by one hole. Daniel Hallissey and John Waldron halved their game. In the final, Muskerry faced a Dungarvan team who had a big win against Limerick in their semi-final. Muskerry got off to a fast start with O’Donovan and Gorey winning their match by two holes. Hallissey and Waldron kept pace with their opposition sealing victory also by 2 holes. Thus, Muskerry had finally bridged a 61year gap and were once again Munster champions. Next stop was Carton House where the All-Ireland finals were played on the O’Meara course. Muskerry played Athenry in the semi-final. The latter team, unfortunately, lost one of their players. Just before play started, Martin Hynes scratched his eye with his contact lens. The first five holes were tense with both teams teasing one another out. The decisive break came when both Muskerry pairings won 6 and 7 to open up a 4 hole lead. After that they never looked back. Both pairs won their matches 5 up to beat the Connacht champions by a 10 up margin. Team Captain Greg O’Sullivan felt that the experience of the All-Ireland semi-final loss to Portmarnock in Castlerock in 2011 stood to the team. In the other semi-final Warrenpoint, looking for their second All-Ireland Barton title in four years, played out a titanic battle against Royal Dublin. They eventually won the match on the 20th, the second extra tie hole. Going into the final, Warrenpoint held the favourites tag. They had won the title five times since 1987, they had the experience and momentum from their semi-final. They also had the reigning East Of Ireland champion and Irish International Colin Campbell in their team. Muskerry team captain Greg O’Sullivan told his squad that it was a 50:50 match. Reputations meant nothing and they were playing well enough to win. The mood at breakfast was one of nervous excitement.

Barton-Shield-team-member-Dave O Donovan
Dave O’Donovan celebrates the Barton Shield

The players enjoyed some banter over a photograph of Dave O’Donovan in the Irish Examiner.
The match starts and news quickly filters back to the 150 people who had travelled from Cork.
The first pair of O’Donovan and Gorey had birdied the first two holes to go 2 up.
A fantastic half followed on the 4th after a brilliant chip by Gorey.

And the pair also birdied the 7th and 8th to go four up and the 9th was halved in pars. The Irish Times described their play as a “tour de force”, four under par after 9 holes, and four up. The second pair started slowly, halving the 1st and 2nd holes. They then lost the 3rd (three putts) and fourth holes (lost ball off the tee). Muskerry won the 5th to get back to 1 down and looked to have settled into the match. However, from a strong position on 6th, they lost the hole to a birdie. The pair also lost the 7th to go three down. On the 8th hole, Warrenpoint hit a tree off the tee shot to leave them approx.270 yards from the green. From here, the East of Ireland champion Campbell showed his class and hit a magnificent shot to the front edge of the green. With Muskerry no more than 10 feet from the hole, Warrenpoint’s Gribben chipped in for birdie. Muskerry missed their putt so Warrenpoint walked off with an unlikely win to go 4 up. With the pressure mounting, Muskerry’s second pairing needed to stop the rot. Hallissey responded with a fantastic birdie putt from 30 feet to win the 9th. So, at the halfway point, Muskerry were now one hole ahead in the overall aggregate match. The 11th hole proved to be a turning point in the contest. Both Warrenpoint pairs failed to get up and down from over the back of the green to lose the hole. Muskerry had now opened up some daylight. They were now 5 up in the top match and 2 down in the second match. The ebb and flow of the match had both sets of supporters on edge. Warrenpoint pulled a hole back on 12 in the second match when Gribben holed a putt of over 50th feet. It was game back on again and the crowd spilled down to the next vantage point on the 14th hole. This par three on the O’Meara course is a magnificent one. It is daunting and intimidating with a shot of 185 yards to a green surrounded by the river Rye. O’Donovan hit one of the shots of his life to a couple of feet for a birdie two to go 6 up. Meanwhile Warrenpoint’s second pairing three putted the 13th to lose the hole. Muskerry’s second pairing were back to two down again. Muskerry now held a four hole aggregate advantage with just nine holes left to play. Muskerry’s momentum looked unstoppable. The closing holes on the O’Meara course provide some fantastic match play holes. In the top match Warrenpoint birdied the 15th hole to draw back a hole. However this was quickly cancelled out by the Muskerry’s second pair. Waldron holed his birdie putt from around 20th feet to win the hole. Muskerry’s four hole aggregate lead was again restored. There were now just six holes left to play. The O’Meara 16th is another fabulous par 3 over water. Both Muskerry pairs were safely on the green after their tee shots. Both pairs however proceeded to test the nerves of their supporters by three putting to lose the hole. The overall match aggregate advantage had been halved to two holes in quick time. An errant out of bounds second shot by Warrenpoint on 17th handed the momentum back to Muskerry in the top match. The Munster champions were now three to the good overall with just three holes remaining. Both Muskerry pairings seemed to close out the match simultaneously. A par 4 on 18th gave O’Donovan and Gorey a 5 up win whilst Hallissey and Waldron halved 17th to remain 2 down A marvellous victory had been secured to crown a wonderful day for Muskerry.

scorecard 2014 Barton Shield
The scorecard told the story.

There were scenes of great delight. Supporters at both greens rushed to congratulate and hug their All-Ireland champions.
The celebrations, both from team and supporters, was one of pure unadulterated joy.
The rendition of Muskerry Our Home, led by Donal Healy, Harry Jones and all the supporters will live long in the memory.

The team had finally bridged a 61 year gap by bringing the All-Ireland Barton Shield back to Muskerry. A momentous occasion and one cherished by all.

And the further good news was that the success brought the Muskerry club’s national team tally to 11.
Here’s to the next one.

Munster Ladies Senior Champion: Ann O’Brien 1963. ann o' brien

Munster Ladies Junior Champions: Mary Higgins 1973 and Berna Moran 1980. mary higgins     berna moran

Munster Intermediate Cup: 1973. Munster Junior Cup: 1960, 1974 and 1982.

Munster Junior League: 1940, 1956, 1972, 1978, 1979 and 1985.

Munster Intermediate Shield: 1990. To Ann O’Brien goes the accolade as Muskerry’s top individual female performer as her triumph in the 1963 Munster Senior Championship at Cork Golf Club was an outstanding performance by a player who later went on to achieve greater success at Douglas, figuring in several Irish Senior Cup winning teams and being honoured by the national selectors.

Ann became the first Muskerry player to win the Senior Championship following her triumph over Oonagh Heskin of Waterford. The semi-finals saw her defeat Ann Heskin of the host club while Oonagh accounted for Mrs J F Hegarty, Douglas.

Muskerry gained junior championship wins on two occasions – Mary Higgins in 1973 and Berna Moran seven years later. In that 1980 triumph at Muskerry, Berna defeated clubmate Sheila Lucey by 2/1 in the semi-final before accounting for Fermoy’s Ellen O’Mahony by one hole in the decider.

Interestingly, O’Mahony’s semi-final opponent was 15 year old Ada O’Sullivan, Monkstown, later to gain international honours and the captaincy of the Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team.

Nora O'Connor, Helen Cotter, Mary Gamble and Ann O'Brien gave a great fillip to Muskerry ladies golf in 1960 when they won the Munster Cup at Killarney paving the way for some other notable successes in the years ahead.

Early recognition Ladies golf at Muskerry received formal recognition within a year of the club’s formation in 1907 as a committee was set up comprising Mrs Townsend as Secretary, Mrs Cronin and Mrs Broderick. A perpetual challenge cup presented at the time is still played for by Muskerry ladies today.

The early days were by no means easy for the fair sex, however, as they were not allowed play on Sundays or Bank Holidays from October to April, except in mixed foursomes competitions.

There was a change of heart later and ladies were allowed play between October and April provided (a) they had their meals in the Ladies club room and (b) that they allowed all matches to ‘pass through' on the course.

By 1910, the ladies had been given further recognition when they were asked to form their own Branch. They were given powers to co-opt other members and draw up a list of competition fixtures. Invited to serve as officers were Mrs Jo Madden, Mrs W J MacMullen and Mrs W J O’Hara.

The Muskerry Ladies Branch in 1926 was under the captaincy of Miss K Dale and Miss C Daly was honorary secretary. One of the top lady players of the time was Florrie Fitzpatrick who won Arthur Powell’s captain’s prize in 1926.

On moving to Malaya in 1930 she married Daniel Joseph O’Donovan (an uncle of present day Muskerry member Dave) and joined the Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur and was the only lady in that club allowed to play off the men’s tees as she was a scratch player.

In 1937, Muskerry agreed to forward two guineas to the Irish Ladies Golf Union as the Muskerry ladies membership was 81. Permission was granted to the Munster Branch ILGU to hold their annual meeting at Muskerry in 1938. In April, it was decided to increase the ladies membership to 100. By October, the membership ceiling was 120.

1974: Girlie Hegarty, a Muskerry member from 1938 to 1942, was elected President of the I.L.G.U. The 55th annual meeting of the Ladies Southern Executive held at Muskerry in 1985, was told by the I.L.G.U. Secretary that prizes for ordinary weekly club competitions ought not exceed £10; furthermore, captains and presidents prizes had an upper limit value of £75. Muskerry’s Berna Moran was returned to the Executive Committee.

In 1990, Muskerry ladies made up for years of disappointment by winning the Munster Intermediate Shield for the first time with a dramatic 3-2 victory over favourites Killarney at Castletroy.

Paula McNamara gained the crucial point on the last green and the other members of the all conquering panel were: Eileen Buckley, Maria Hegarty, Mary Healy, Bridie Casey, Aedin McCarthy jnr, Lucia Ahern and Eleanor O'Regan. Teresa MacCarthy was team captain and Aedin McCarthy was Lady Captain that year.

The Muskerry club had presented the Shield to the Munster Executive for competition in 1955 and it was understandable that there should be great delight and excitement at the triumph as earlier teams had unsuccessfully contested the final on six occasions. Aedin McCarthy was elected to the I.L.G.U. Central Council in 1995.

In 1996, there was another splendid triumph for the club when Betty Horgan and Nora Finn emerged victorious in the Munster final of the Eileen Murphy Foursomes at Cork Golf Club in a competition contested by all clubs in the province.

Millennium year (2000) was noteworthy in that Tess Murphy became the first Muskerry member to be elected Chairperson of the ILGU Southern District. She held office for two years.

In 2002, Kathleen O’Keeffe, Lady Captain in 2003, made her own bit of Muskerry history by following in the footsteps of her mother Maureen O’Reilly, who held the office in 1995 - thus becoming the first mother and daughter to fill the lady captaincy role at the club.

Juvenile golf at Muskerry received a great boost in 2006 when Laura McCarthy was selected on the Munster under 15 team for the inaugural interprovincial series at Athy.

She made a great impression and in 2007 she was chosen on the provincial under 18 team and gained two points from three starts.
jack lynch
The late Taoiseach Jack Lynch, Club President at Muskerry in 1970 enjoys a game of Golf at the Club.

Jack Lynch, one of the all-time greats of Cork G.A.A., won six All-Ireland medals in a row (five hurling and one football in the 1940s).

He also found time for a little golf. He had this to say to Tim O’Brien on his association with Muskerry.
He said he shared some very happy memories with the club. “Even if the quality of my golf did not contribute to them” he added.

Jack first joined Muskerry in the early 1950s just before he ceased other sporting activities like hurling and football.
As was the case of many other friends, that great and loyal Muskerry man, Frank Casey, initially invited him to become a member. He was already a member of the Dáil and, due to ministerial office, resided mostly in Dublin.

“But I well remember how I looked forward to coming to Cork at weekends and especially when I had finished my ‘clinic’.

jack lynch glen rovers
Jack leads Glen Rovers

“I used to have a fourball appointment with Frank Casey, Paddy O’Donovan and Jim Murray, who subsequently went to Mullingar.
“On many an occasion I kept them waiting as a result of the numbers attending my ‘clinic’. “But they were always very patient and indulgent with me” he added.

In the middle and late fifties, a recurrence of an old hurling injury limited his golfing activities considerably. Apart altogether from the limitation public life imposed on him.

“But this is not an excuse to admit that I won little, if anything, in the course of my membership of Muskerry. “Nor, indeed, did I win anything in any other golf club either.

“There was one exception, in the early fifties I think, when I won a rather remote competition in Muskerry. “I suffered the usual loss of a stroke.
“That brought my handicap to 17 at which it has remained ever since.

jack lynch and wife mairin
Jack Lynch and his wife Mairin in West Cork.

“I should mention, though, that Máirín, my wife, did much better with fewer opportunities.
“She won Jerry Ryan’s President’s Prize at Muskerry in 1954.

“Perhaps some of the occasions I enjoyed best were the annual ‘Lads’ v ‘Chaps’ matches. “They were organised by Frank Casey and Jim McCarthy.

“Frank has gone to his reward and Jim resides in Dublin. “I would hope some time that these matches involving players of gaelic games and rugby could be revived.

“Although, perhaps, they would have less meaning now that the G.A.A. Ban has been abolished."

Cork 4 in a row All Irelands
Cork four in a row captains

Pictured above are Cork’s four-in-a-row All-Ireland hurling captains, 1944 Sean Condon, St. Finbarr’s; 1942 Jack Lynch; Glen Rovers; 1941 Connie Buckley, Glen Rovers; 1943 Mick Kennefick, St. Finbarr’s.

“One thing I always felt about Muskerry was the great esprit de corps that existed amongst the members.
“This was not confined to the golf course or to the very happy socials we used to have after the various important club events. “It extended into daily life activities as well.

“Speaking of socials, the ‘turn’ I best remember was the ‘Bold Gendarme’ duet between Frank Casey and Bertie Dorgan” “Bertie, now sadly deceased, probably was Muskerry’s most consistent member” he said.

Jack remembered too when the trees were planted by the present 12th and 13th during the captaincy of the late Dr Paul Kenefick.
“They have enhanced considerably the beautiful terrain of Muskerry”, he said.
“The seed was literally sown by John A O’Shaughnessy of Dripsey Woollen Mills. “A few years earlier, he planted small plantations between the then 9th and 16th fairways – now the 7th and 14 holes, he said.

Jack said it was a privilege for him to have been elected President of the club in 1970. “I’m afraid I was unable, because of Government commitments, to contribute much to that office.

“I am also very grateful to the members for having elected me an honorary life member.
“As such I find myself in the company of men like Mick Power and Larry McCarthy, though not for the same reason” he added.

Jack Lynch right handed
Jack Lynch shows his prowess as a right handed golfer.

Jack Lynch could play golf with right and left handed clubs This ability led top journalist T.P. O’Mahony include the following passage in his Lynch biography.

The Taoiseach was playing at Cork Golf Club on one occasion and met up with Examiner newspaper proprietor Tom Crosbie. Crosbie expressed some surprise when he saw Lynch swinging a left handed club.
“I thought you were right handed” Crosbie enquired. Without batting an eyelid, Jack Lynch quipped:
“I find it very convenient as a politician to be able to swing either to the right or the left.”

Jack Lynch and Christy Ring
Jack Lynch with another Legend Christy Ring

Commemorating 1916

In 1966, Muskerry Golf Club honoured the men who sacrificed their lives in the cause of Irish freedom.
A commemoration ceremony on May 9th, marked the golden jubilee of the 1916 tragedy.
Reporting, the Cork Examiner stated that hundreds stood in driving rain at Muskerry to honour the men involved.

In an impressive jubilee commemoration ceremony, army trumpeters played the salute in the presence of civic and public dignitaries.
‘Sundawn’ was played as the National flag was lowered by head greenkeeper, Mr Ned McSweeney.

In the solemn moments of tribute, the Last Post broke the stillness of the countryside.

Present at the ceremony were the Lord Mayor of Cork, Mr Cornelius Desmond.
Mr Flor Crowley, T.D.
Mr Pearse Wyse, T.D.
Mr A. A. Healy, T.D.
Very Rev Richard Canon Ronayne, P.P. Inniscarra.
Rev Nicholas O’Connor, C.C., Cloghroe.
Mr Walter MacEvilly, City Manager.
The President of Cork Golf Club, Dr J Murphy.
Cork G.C. Captain, Lt. Col. P O’Sullivan.
The President of Douglas, Mr William O’Leary.
Past presidents and captains of Muskerry.
The guests were greeted by Mr Patrick Ryan, President, Muskerry G.C. and by the club’s captain, Brian Cantwell, who presided.

The ad-hoc co-ordinating committee of Capt. Cantwell, Mr Patrick Foley, hon. secretary, and Mr Garrett Tobin arranged the sequence of events.

Earlier, at the request of Muskerry, Fr O’Connor celebrated Mass at Cloghroe Church for the repose of the souls of the men of 1916.

Members of the Oireachtas, civic leaders and other dignitaries were present.

Subsequently, at Muskerry Golf Club, while the honours were being rendered, the Proclamation was read by Mr Michael McAuliffe, Cork.

The Reveille signaled the awakening spirit of nationhood.

The Lord Mayor, Mr Desmond, thanked the club for their enterprise in scheduling the ceremonies.
It was only right that those brave men of 1916 should be honoured, he said.
He was pleased and gratified that Muskerry had done them proud.

The Lord Mayor added that he was especially delighted to see children at the ceremony.
He felt sure they would have gained by their presence a new measure of pride in the achievements of those great men of 1916.
He was certain that history would not forget those men and that their names would be honoured and revered.
fred twomey muskerry professional
Fred Twomey, Muskerry Golf Club Professional.

A significant changing of the guard at Muskerry Golf Club in 2018.
Martin Lehane, the Club’s professional for 40 years, passed the baton to Fred Twomey. A member of the Twomey family that has contributed so much to the golf club.

old golf pro with new golf pro
Fred Twomey taking over the Pro Shop from Martin Lehane

Martin was the ever present face of Muskerry to members and visitors alike through the decades.
Imparting coaching skills and lending invaluable advice to all.

This sterling service did not go un-noticed. The club bestowed honorary life membership on him.

There was a huge attendance in the Club pavilion to pay tribute to a wonderful Muskerry man.

Martin took over the Professional position in 1979 from the equally dedicated Tim McElligott.

martin-lehane-and-tim-mcell
Martin Lehane with Tim McElligott

Tim was the club professional for the previous 32 years.

Fred Twomey's appointment provides him with a new challenge. In addition to his club professional role, he is also the Munster G.U.I. coach.

He gained recognition for his teaching skills many years earlier. Fred is of course equal to the task.
He has a proven record in the coaching arena having prepared several Muskerry teams for various championships.

In addition, he has coached several other golfers who have played on Irish teams. Achievements also include the preparation of golfers who have gained Irish Close, national and provincial success.

Fred has been a professional in the P.G.A. ranks since 1995. He currently works with G.U.I. national coach Neil Manchip as well as other local coaches.

A look back on the Muskerry professional era reveals that the club’s first professional was John McNamara.
He was a member of a well known Lahinch family. John took up duty at Muskerry in March 1907.

Earlier, he had been engaged at Rushbrooke, near Cobh, (1903-1904) and Tramore (1905-1906).

He was also associated with the St Ann’s club near Tower in the early 1900s.


McNamara on the Muskerry putting green in 1908

McNamara departed Muskerry in December 1909.

He was given permission by the committee to supervise work on a course for the newly formed Douglas club. McNamara was replaced at Muskerry by Sidney Humphreys, Bournemouth Corp G.C.
A club minute book reveals his terms as follows:
One pound per week and the profits on clubs and balls sold.

He was allowed his fees for giving lessons (at one shilling per hour).The club was also to pay his travelling and lodging expenses.Humphreys told the interviewing group that he would be satisfied to live in Cork. He would travel to the course in the morning on the Muskerry Tram leaving Cork at 8.15.

He would sign an agreement to be drawn up at once upon these conditions. His engagement would be terminable after a month’s notice from either party.Humphreys remained at the club for close on two years.

He set a course record of 69 over the then 18 holes (nine holes played twice) in 1910.

Thomas Travers took up the Muskerry post in 1911 having previously served at Tramore, Waterford.

James Hood, St Andrews, was appointed club professional in 1912. However, due to financial constraints within the club, he departed in May 1914.

World War duty followed with the Royal Scots Fusiliers and died during an engagement. The November 6th death announcement in the Cork Examiner stated that he died from wounds received in action in France a month earlier.

Jeremiah Finnegan, from nearby Tower, acted as caddymaster and professional in the 1914 era.

Jack Higgins, a member of the well known Little Island, Cork golfing family, was appointed Muskerry Professional in 1916.

The Cork Examiner of September 24th, 1925, reported on the inaugural professional tournament at Cork Golf Club.
Muskerry’s Jack Higgins and club honorary secretary Peter O’Flynn won an inter-club professional/amateur event. This competition was held on the eve of the professional tournament.
The Muskerry pair defeated Tom Jennings and David Brown (Cork) in the semi-final.

And the Douglas pairing of John Sheridan and his amateur partner Mick English in the matchplay decider.

Jack Higgins left Muskerry for Cork Golf Club in 1931 and was replaced by Willie O’Brien of Tower.

Another native of the area, Dan Lehane, followed later.

Within a few years, Jack Higgins’s brother David, also known as ‘Bobby’, took over.

Records of 1940 show that David ‘Bobby’ Higgins represented Muskerry in the Irish Professional Championship.
The event was held at Cork Golf Club.

tim mcelligott
Tim McElligott outside the Pro Shop

Tim McElligott was appointed Muskerry professional in succession to David Higgins in 1947, and he rendered 32 years of unstinting and dedicated service to the club.

His contribution was such that he was made an honorary member in 1979. Two years later, the Professional Golf Association accorded him a similar honour.

On Tim’s death in 1987, Dermot O'Mahony, the 1971 Muskerry Club President, paid this tribute in the Cork Examiner.
"What can you expect from anyone born two fields in from the road" was an expression frequently used by Tim McElligott.

This saying was literally true in Tim's case for his place of birth at Dromin, Ballybunion fitted the description.
Nobody was ever quite sure whether Tim realised this.
Nevertheless it became his explanation of and excuse for some self ascribed personal inadequacy.

“Those who had the privilege of knowing him could not see any inadequacy.
“But we could quickly recognise the genuine humility of the man.
“His standards were set at a higher level than those of the 'ordinary mortal' - and what's more, practised. “A lifelong teetotaller and non-smoker, he loved the occasional mild flutter at the races.

“Usually in the company of the late Dinny O'Brien, he attended, whenever possible, the Listowel meetings. “This afforded him the opportunity of renewing old friendships and greeting relations.

“Tim was most honest in all his business dealings. “But many a time in the aftermath of a visit to his shop in Muskerry Golf Club you felt that you had got the best of the bargain.

“Until you realised that what you had purchased was very different from that which you had in mind in the first place.

“Such was his sales talk - soft, yet persuasive, yet ever a satisfied customer. “He was never known to utter a word in anger or in any circumstance to use any expression even bordering on the indelicate.

“That others chose to act in like manner in his presence surely was symptomatic of the high degree of respect in which he was held. “His standards were high and remained so all his life.

“Of his achievements he was extremely modest. “Yet his skill in course design and maintenance is exemplified on the 15th hole at Muskerry which is all his own work.

“He was also associated with the Charleville and Waterville courses. “It was a wonderful privilege to have known a man of Tim McElligott's calibre.” Said Dermot O’Mahony.

Compiled by Tim O’Brien
Captain Jim O Driscoll raising the Flag
Captain Jim O' Driscoll raises the centenary flag at Muskerry

The raising of a commemorative flag on January 1st 2007 set Muskerry Golf Club’s centenary year of celebration in motion.
Jim O’Driscoll, club Captain, performed the ceremonial act in the presence of Lady Captain Mary Healy, Pat Sheppard, Chairman Board of Management and Tom Philpott, Club President.

Centenary-year-tree-planting
Centenary-year-tree-planting
The flag raising ceremony was followed by the planting of a tree by the club officers near the present fifth green.

Mary-Gamble-cuts cake
Mary-Gamble nonagenarian-cuts cake

Nonagenarian Mary Gamble cutting a cake to honour a momentous century of golf at Muskerry.
“I’m nearly as old as the club itself” she quipped.

Book-launch-by-Sir-Charles-Colthurst
Sir Charles Colthurst, a great grandson of the club’s first president Sir George Colthurst, launched a history book in 2007.

Best wishes from British Open Champion Padraig Harrington
Pádraig Harrington, the British Open champion, extended best wishes.

Top attraction on an evening of wonderful entertainment was The Band of 1 Southern Command.
A visit arranged by Muskerry member and former Army officer Fergus Hannon.

army band playing at centenary event
The Army No. 1 Southern Command Band left quite an impression on members and visitors alike.
With a programme of song, music and dance to suit all tastes.
Southern Command Army Band
A special evening to be sure and one enjoyed by all.
Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: