A 100 Years of Birdies (and Better) at Athenry Golf Club

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Athenry Golf Club celebrates its I00 years of existence with a special weekend of golf on the 10th, 11th and 12th of May  2002.

This weekend proved to be a great success, as other golf clubs in Britain and lreland that are celebrating their centenaries this year were invited. The clubs that visited Athenry were: Radyr Golf CIub, WaIes, Bulwell Forest Golf Club, Nottingham, England, Kirkistown Castle Golf Club, Cloughey, Co. Down and New Galloway Golf Club, Dumfries, Scotland.

On Saturday May 11th a Centenary Celebration Banquet was held in the Castlegate Hotel. Special guests included the President of the Golfing Union of Ireland Mr John V. Lynch and the President of the Irish Ladies Golfing Union, Ms Cathy Smith. In addition, there were dignitaries from the local golf clubs especially from Galway and Mountbellew, two clubs that were exceptionally generous to members of Athenry Golf Club when the club lost its lease on the land in Moanbaun in 1977.

The publication of a Centenary Club Journal traces the history of the club since its foundation and has interesting photographs of the earliest members in both Raheen and Moanbaun in addition to the recent history of the club in Palmerstown. The journal can be purchased in the clubhouse for €5. It is hoped to have the journal available in the local shops soon.

The rest of the golfing year will see some of the club’s members visiting other club’s that are celebrating their centenaries later in the summer. Already a number of the club’s officers have travelled to Scotland to join in the celebrations of New Galloway Golf Club near Dumfries.

In addition, there are some memorable photographs on display in the clubhouse as well as that of the Club‘s winning teams over the years. It is hoped that when the Club celebrates its bicentenary, its second century will be as memorable as its first.

The history of golf in Athenry began probably before I902 but there is little evidence to indicate this except that some organisation must have been in place prior to the Club affiliating to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews in Scotland. The first reference to golf in Athenry is in “The Golfing Annual I907/O8” which lists November 1904 as the foundation date. However, the record was corrected in 1910 in “The lrish Golfers Guide” (William H. Gibson) that gives 1902 as the year of institution and I929 as the year of affiliation to the Golfing Union of Ireland. At this point the Club was listed as Athenry – Co. Galway Golf Club.

Evidence indicates the first actual golf course located in Athenry was situated in Rockfield. This course was parkland and was a nine-hole course. The Concannon family originally owned this land. Jim Cassidy from Clamper Park, who died in the mid-1960s, worked for the Concannon family. Jim looked after the greens and tee boxes and sometimes carried the golf clubs for the Concannons and for any visitors who came to play golf in Rockfield. The Daly family from Athenry were prominent players at the time and played their golf mostly at weekends.

Michael Waldron from Rockmore still has very vivid memories of golf being played in Rockfield but he was very young at the time. He later worked with his brother Jimmy on the golf course when it was located in Raheen.

In 1939 the Blythe family bought the land and moved into their new home in 1940. At this point the Club was located in Park. The land in there consisted of three sections that were owned by Patrick Holland, Tom Coyne and Michael Coyne. The club was well established in Raheen in the 1930s as evidenced by the ordnance survey map of Athenry and the surrounding area of 1937.

ln the 1950s the Club had to move again, this time to Moanbaun. This was to be the Club’s home until 1977 when the lease was not renewed. Fortunately, the club thorough the great work of the members at the time finally found a permanent home for the Club in Palmerstown. Today the club has over l,000 members and is now the outright owner of its lands and clubhouse.

Gerry Doherty is a Teacher in Presentation College Athenry and has played soccer for Athenry. He is an active member of Athenry Golf Club

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About this record

Written by Gerry Doherty

Published here 19 Jul 2023 and originally published Summer 2002

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