A Significant Event in the Golfing History of Dublin

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Dublin City Council announces a significant event in the golfing history of Dublin. Councillor Gerry Ashe representing the Lord Mayor of Dublin, will formally receive two important collections of records documenting the progress of the sport in Dublin, for formal transfer to the Dublin City Sports Archive.  The transfer will take place at a reception on Wednesday, 11th December, 2013, at 6.30pm at Dublin City Library and Archive,Pearse Street,Dublin 2. 

The records relate to Rathfarnham Golf Club, which was the tenth golf club to be established inDublinin the 1890’s and a collection of records of Miss Harriet Celena ‘Ena’ Brooks (1921-2013), the club’s only international player to date.

The Club’s archives have been arranged into 18 record groups charting its development right up to the present day. Ena’s careful record-keeping has allowed a reconstruction of her golfing career in Rathfarnham from the age of 17. Items including photographs of various representative teams, telegrams and letters of congratulation received on her international achievements, her best cards at Rathfarnham and many other golf courses in Ireland and the British Isles form part of the collection. 

“As a resident of Rathfarnham I am particularly delighted to be here today to mark this momentous occasion. Dublin has a rich sporting heritage, with sport playing an intrinsic role in the city’s social and cultural identity. These records are evidence of the significant golfing heritage of Dublin” said Councillor Gerry Ashe.

Officers and members of Rathfarnham Golf Club alongside representatives of Ena Brooks family will attend the reception to mark the transfer of the records.

The collections will be carefully preserved by the staff of Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street, and once fully catalogued will be available for public viewing in the Library and Archive Reading Room.


Notes to the Editor:

As far as Dublin was concerned, the sport began with the foundation of Royal Dublin in 1885, followed by eight other clubs, only three of which were located on the southern side of the city: Rathfarnham’s foundation being in the final year of the nineteenth century: 1899. Then it was the strategic location of the newly-developed nine-hole course at Butterfield, stretching along the Dodder River from the Templeogue Bridge all the way to Rathfarnham village, and in particular accessibility of the new tram terminus at Rathfarnham (within five minutes walk of the clubhouse) that made it so attractive to potential new members.

Initially the Club was constituted on proprietary terms, meaning it was in the hands of a lessee - a Mr Patrick Yule Bogue who lived in Butterfield House undertook to “keep the links in perfect order for a term of years ending 1st November 1902”, and appears to have acted as the early Club’s manager, collecting annual subscriptions from the members. When his lease for Butterfield House and adjoining lands expired the members took over, explaining why formal record-keeping in the form of minute books commenced the following year in 1903. The original clubhouse was also built in 1903 by which time the Club had some 230 members, no less than 90 of whom were ladies.

The Club’s archives have now been arranged into 18 record groups charting its evolutionary development right up the present. These document how under pressure from potential road development and suburban housing growth in the vicinity of Rathfarnham, the radical decision was taken in 1965 to move just outside the city boundary to the townland of Newtown, in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, where a new 9-hole course was opened for play in April 1966. By 2002 the course had been extended to 14 holes and in 2008 an extra hole was added bringing the Club a step nearer its ultimate goal of 18 holes – indeed it is the verge of making another landmark decision to enable this goal to be achieved in the near future. With its quality scenic course, renowned friendly atmosphere, accessibility to the M50 motorway (as oppose to the tramway) and a strong reputation for mixed golf (culminating in 2012 when the Mixed Foursomes team won the Leinster Championship) Rathfarnham offers many attractions.

Complimentary to the Club’s archives is the individual collection which came to light in 2013 following her death are those documenting the golfing career of Miss Harriet Celenia ‘Ena’ Brooks (1921-2013) the club’s only international player to date, who joined Rathfarnham in 1938 aged 17, and served as Lady Captain in 1950, at the young age of 29. By then Ena was playing off four, and won several international honours during the 1950s and 1960 when she was in fact the lowest handicapped player on the Irish team. She won the Leinster Open Championship three times in 1954, 1959 and 1962. 

After the move from Butterfield toNewtown, Ena did not continue her membership of Rathfarnham. Indeed she was such a perfectionist at the game that as soon as her handicap began to slip, she stopped playing altogether, pursuing a professional career as a lecturer in Dublin Dental Hospital. However, in 1999, during the centenary year at Rathfarnham links were rekindled with RGC electing her an honorary member in recognition of her ‘magnificent golfing career’. She kept safe the letter informing her of this news, together with all her other golfing memorabilia.

Ena’s careful record-keeping has allowed us to reconstruct her golfing career, which is vividly illustrated by the wide variety of items including photographs of various representative teams, press cuttings, telegrams and letters of congratulation received on her international and other achievements, her best cards at Rathfarnham and many other golf courses in Ireland and the British Isles as her handicap tumbled down, and even the bag tags that she was given for her golf clubs and suitcase when she travelled to represent Ireland abroad, via boat and train. The collection has been donated for permanent safe-keeping to Dublin Sports Archive by her family, whose collaboration with Rathfarnham has contributed significantly to safeguard this evolutionary golfing story.