I am pleased to be asked to write this article, which in time will form part of the book on the History of Athy Golf Club. It is our intention to have this book ready for our Centenary in 2006.
This article deals with the current Pavillion which is due for demolition any day now. Note the word 'pavilion'. Now we refer to our 'clubhouse' but back in the 60’s and 70’s the word pavilion was in common use. The local GAA / Rugby / Tennis clubs also had pavilions at that time.
This article will be split into three parts:
1) As it relates to the pavilion and the period leading to its completion
2) The actual work involved in building the pavilion.
3) The celebrations upon completion of the pavilion.
I am sure as we start the demolition process, recollection of the people involved in the development will kindle appreciation of the foresight of our predecessors who created the building we have appreciated for the past thirty one years.
Chairman of the 'Centenary' Research Committee
Athy Golf Club
The Pre-Building Period
Like many of the older Golf Clubs in Ireland, a galvanized cabin type pavilion served the needs of our club for over sixty years. Have a look at the picture below taken in 1937 to see what we mean by the galvanized structure. Speaking of this picture we are conducting some research into identifying the people in this picture ; so if you know any of these people please let me know.
Until the early 1960’s there was a small membership at the club. The Alcan Tournament held in Ireland in 1960, the arrival on the scene of Arnold Palmer and TV all contributed to the explosion of the popularity of golf in Ireland. This surge in interest in golf took place also in Athy and as the new members arrived the members began thinking about the future at the club and this meant a more modern pavilion.
The Committee began the process of Fundraising and back in the 1960’s the responsibility for same fell to the Social Committee. They organized Pro-Am events (to be the subject of another article later this year), Dances, Card Drives, Table Tennis events and Barbecues to raise funds. These very successful events ran for ten years ; the roaring 60’s at Athy Golf Club. The Social Secretaries during this period included Kevin O’Toole (RIP) Captain in 1960, Claude Gough (RIP) Captain in 1972, Brendan Curley Captain in 1975 and the current President, Brendan Doran ; a great musician, Jack Kirwan ; now a member of Forest Little and Derek Sheppard now a member of The Castle.
The first real efforts to develop a new Pavillion happened in 1968 under the Captaincy of Kevin Maher ; a current Trustee. It was agreed then to organize a monthly draw and this '300 Club Draw', under the Chairmanship of Denis O’Donovan netted almost £1.000 for each of the seven years of its existence.
This extra thousand pounds per annum prompted more concrete plans for a new clubhouse, which was estimated to cost as much as £10,000. There were many good ideas as to the type of pavilion to be erected and the eventual inspiration came from Bill Horgan (RIP) and Captain in 1973. Bill produced a scale model at the 1970 AGM and this was accepted by the members.
Bill agreed to become actively involved in the development and from that night it was full steam ahead for the development with great use being made of 'The clout of the club'. Aidan Gleeson (RIP) and Captain in 1970 ; a Tegral colleague of Bill completed the drawings and the detailed design They both worked together in the completion of all aspects of the developments.
Bill gave freely of his time working on the project and he was also The Foreman as you can see from the picture below.
The Work Begins
As I mentioned earlier some of our members enjoyed using "The Clout of the Club" to contribute to the project. Some names that come to mind include Jans Preisler (Club President in 1960+ 1961 and Captain in 1966) for the supply of the roofing sheets free gratis and local Hardware Stores for materials at very reasonable prices. Michael Ms Stay (RIP) General Manager of GEC Electrical Co.Dublin gave us the ventilating system free in exchange for 5 free Golfing Society days at our club. Michael – from Kildare town was a brother of the late Tom Mc Stay and an Uncle of our member David Mc Stay.
The project began in August 1970 under the watchful eye of Bill and Aidan and it took almost one year to complete. One of their first tasks was to appoint a main contractor. A retired builder, Jimmy Connell who lived down the road agreed to be the man. Jimmy was our Groundsman during the years of the Second World War and some years earlier he had won the Irish Hospitals Trust Sweepstake thanks to a horse called Santa Claus – thus earning the nickname of Santa Claus.
Other locals involved in the project were Francis Connell (son of Jimmy) and Dickie Kelly of The Lodge and the father of the Kelly Golfing Clan.
Bill and Aidan were also responsible for persuading some of their Tegral colleagues to assist in the evenings and on Saturdays. These included Terry Holligan and Dick Mansworth who did the carpentry work, Mick (Stash) Martin (RIP) did the plumbing while Henry Howard ably assisted by Martin Sharpe (RIP) and Andy Coughlan (RIP) completed the electrical work. Painting and Decorating was carried out by Tony O’Keeffe and Mick (Sticker) Ryan (RIP).
It is easy to see therefore why we refer to our building as the "Tegral pavilion".
Many other members also gave gladly of their time and I can remember the din of hammers as the ceiling panels were fitted (nailed up). The noise was tremendous as six hammers at one time were in action under the watchful eye of Terry Holligan.
Throughout the project it was agreed by the Committee that each volunteer be given a free pint when work finished each evening. As a matter of interest the pint cost 2 shillings and three pence in 1970 and twelve and a half pence in 1971 – decimalization came on Feb 15th 1971.
This end of evening ritual gave way to some marvelous conversations by all concerned while sitting on concrete blocks or whatever else was available and sometimes more than one pint was consumed as the chat lasted well into the night. I am sure many people will remember these enjoyable evenings as many members came out to join the volunteer army.
The New Pavilion is ready
Leonard Craig (RIP) was our Captain in 1971 and I have great memories of his wonderful ad-libbed speech in September 1971 when we officially opened our new pavilion. Fr Philip Dennehy – then a Curate in Athy and currently the Parish Priest blessed the new pavilion.
Leonard was seen earlier that evening rehearsing his speech outside the old pavilion in the company of two of our Trustees – Kevin Maher and Barry Donnelly (RIP).
The festivities began then and I remember clearly the excellent food prepared in the old galvanized pavilion by John and Peg Bradbury , ably assisted by some of our Lady Members. The dress attire was Formal and some members admitted they were wearing Dress Suits for the first time that day. The Ladies were very elegant that evening and even us guys looked smart enough. The music was provided by our own Alex Kelly and his group Alex and his Aces. Alex will be the subject of a later article here and he will feature also in our Centenary Book.
During the festivities Bill Horgan said a few words and he took great delight in telling us that the project cost a little over £10,000 – bar stock excluded. It subsequently transpired that the figure was less than 10k – a marvelous achievement and I am proud to say the club has never looked back since.
Bill Horgan became Captain of the Club in 1973 and sadly he passed away the following year – by coincidence on Captain’s (Jerry Carbery) Prize Day in 1974 and sadly also 10 days after the death of Aidan Gleeson. I am sure they are both looking down on us today as we prepare ourselves for the next exciting development in the history of Athy Golf Club.
Some years later a plaque honouring the achievements of these two great members was unveiled and mounted in the main hall. Let us hope we find a place for it in our new clubhouse – which we hope to open in the Summer of 2003.
Chairman of the "Centenary" Research Committee
Athy Golf Club