Deryck Vincent (CricketEurope)
As this is written a 5 kilometre travel limit applies to the general public thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly cricket does not fall into the essential travel category but the thought occurred about how many games Clontarf CC might be able to play within that 5K limit.
Nowadays, not very many, Trinity falls just outside the limit. However, many clubs have existed within the travel limit over the years and on a couple of occasions we have snuck just outside the official limit.
This list is not designed to be definitive; we leave that to Pat Bracken and his incredible work on mapping cricket throughout the years (Twitter @club_irl). Indeed we have deliberately avoided Pat’s work in compiling this list and it will be interesting to see how many more we might have noted.
With limited resources, we have used the Irish times Archive, Club records including archive fixture cards and most interestingly, personal memories. As a result there are some clubs about which we know quite a lot and others we know virtually nothing other than a mention in a fixture. We will concentrate on a small number about which we have some detail.
To begin with we stay very local and head towards the sea. Our first stop is Dollymount CC. Dollymount was founded in September 1895 and began playing the following year. Lord Ardilaun was asked to act as the first President of the club “and his lordship has kindly consented to” IT 10/3/1896.
Despite being near neighbours to Clontarf the initial membership was in excess of 60, a very healthy number. The club entered the Junior cup in 1896 and were drawn to play their local rivals, Clontarf, a true local derby. Quite where the club played is uncertain, however they advertised that their field was situated just 3 minutes from the tram terminus.
Another newspaper entry from 1906 refers to a game against Mr. Borland’s XI which was played at the Bull. The 1906 averages show that the club played 15 games winning 8, losing 4 and drawing 3. We can find no trace of the club from 1906
Cremore Cricket Club was a thriving and successful club for the period 1935 to 1962. It was based in one of the newly built suburbs of Dublin in the late 1920s and the club operated on the land that is now occupied by Tolka Rovers FC.
During the winter, hockey was played, cricket during the summer and the ground became the playground for a generation of children of the area. Former member Stan McMullen remembers spending his childhood in the ground, although he moved on to play in Clontarf where he would have a very successful senior career.
That unfortunately became a common theme as the club produced many fine players who would make their name in other clubs. The ground unfortunately was not of the highest order and this may have been a factor. Stan remembers the club hiring a steam roller in 1944 in an effort to improve the surface, a good idea, until the roller sank.
The quality of the facilities may well have been one of the factors in the refusal of the Leinster Cricket Union to grant senior status in the 1950s and this may well have signalled the beginning of the end for the club. However there can be no doubting the quality of the players produced, the previously mentioned McMullen was a fine player for Clontarf who also benefitted when Johnny Bell (whose family now are connected with Pembroke), John McGivern, Niall Broderick arrived and who all gave long service to that club.
Pride of place though was Alfie Cooper who not only won 2 caps for Ireland but also represented and captained USA after he emigrated in later years. Clontarf were not the only club to reap the work of Cremore, Jimmy Spencer (a player that McMullen to this day speaks of in hushed tones), the brothers Noel and Fergus Gilmore all played for Leinster while Bobby Harris had a Leinster Senior Cup Final to remember in 1968 when scoring 83 and taking 5 wickets (having bowled 40 overs!) in Leinster’s win against Clontarf. Adam Begley moved on to play in YMCA.
Another Cremore player who made his name in areas outside of cricket was Denis Mahony, well known in Dublin as a motor dealer but as his obituary said in 2017, he was a superstar of Dublin GAA in the 1950s. A young boy who ignored the “ban” to play some cricket with his friends in his local area.
Santry School (3) /Santry CC (4)
The area of Santry provides us with 2 clubs spanning 80 years. Firstly was Santry School CC who we know operated in 1862. What we do not know is who exactly they were. Santry Charter School had ceased operating many years prior but the club may have been formed from that source.
However in the 1930s Santry Cricket club was set up by the Eustace family. The Eustace family were originally a Quaker family who had for over 120 years been involved in the treatment of mental health – indeed their family history is one that is worth checking out in its own right. The Eustace family was the driving force behind Santry CC and the family played their part on the pitch as well.
They operated in the Junior Leagues and it is believed that played their games on the land now occupied by TCD Sport on Santry Avenue. Of course, that is the same place where future Ireland and England cricketer Eoin Morgan spent his early life.
(Santry CC 1930, colourized from original version)
The club did not last far into the 1940s however we have some tangible proof of its existence in the form an engraved teapot. William Davidson was a gardener for the Eustace family and he was also a talented sportsman in both football and cricket.
On the occasion of his marriage in 1934 he was presented with a teapot from the club, a mark not just of his standing in the club but also of the ethos of the club, an item which remains in his family to this day.
Raheny is just a 2 kilometre trip up the Howth Road and the indications are that cricket was played in Raheny prior to Clontarf CC’c foundation.
An ordinance survey map dated 1869 shows a cricket ground on the St Annes’s Estate which had been owned by Sir Benjamin Lee till his death in 1868.
1869 Map showing cricket ground
His eldest son was Arthur and he made his money in brewing, specifically the Guinness Brewery. As we have previously noted, Arthur (Lord Ardiluan after he was granted a peerage in 1880) had an involvement in cricket in Dollymount and this cricket ground may purely have been for family and private purposes.
Lord Ardilaun died in 1915 but it was his wife Lady Ardilaun who facilitated the formation of Raheny CC when in 1919 she put a field on the estate at the disposal of the new formed club. It is likely that this was the same field noted on the 1869 map, land now used by Raheny GAA teams.
In 1925 she provided a pavilion for the club, a pavilion that served the community for many years not just as a cricket pavilion but also later as a tennis pavilion and a parochial hall for the parish of All Saints Church until it was destroyed in a fire in 1981.
In 1939 the club had to move from St Anne’s after the estate lands were taken over by Dublin Corporation and they moved to a field known as Canon Drury’s Field, provided by the local church and which backed onto the rectory of the incumbent, Canon Drury.
The playing membership of the club was made up of locals and workers of the estate. Cecil Dixon, later of Clontarf CC started his playing career in Raheny, there being no youth cricket in Clontarf. His connection to Raheny being that his aunt, Ella was a house keeper in the “Big House”.
Des Cashell also began his playing career in the club. Ian Jones was a good left arm spinner with the club while the Slye family well known in the area as fuel merchants were regulars. The club ceased playing in 1943.
Roller believed to have been used on cricket ground in Raheny
St Mary’s - Howth (6)
It would be wrong to ignore the youth, they need to play in these difficult times and we have received special permission to go just a little beyond the 5k limit to cater for the younger player.
In the early 1970s there was little organised sport for young players. The Leinster Cricket Union did not have a Schoolboy section until 1974. So with great foresight, three parents, Cecil Jermyn, Cecil Rowden and Norman Wolfe decided that they would organise sport for the boys of Burrow National School and St. Mary’s Parish.
In the winter they ran rugby and cricket for the summer. They decided to call themselves St Mary’s Ba Bas after the iconic nomadic rugby team The Barbarians. So a letter, more in hope than expectation, was sent to the Rugby club and soon after a response was received from the club on headed papers confirming that they would be delighted for the club to use their moniker.
It was fitting that they should copy the nomads name for they had no home ground and played all their games away from home. For a number of years they competed in the underage leagues. Some fine sportsmen came from their ranks in the fields of rugby and hockey in particular but also in their more unusual field of comedy as Apres Match’s Gary Cooke was a regular performer.
There were many other clubs within our 5K limit, in no particular order: Thoms CC (7)– a printing company who ran a league team for its employees (1936-1943) off Mount Prospect Avenue. If locals remember the Belgorve FC ground (previously the grounds of Easons), Thoms played in the next field heading to the sea. Its most famous player was Joe Caprani who played there when employed by the company.
Killester CC (8) – we know a team was operating in Killester in 1865 when it played a game against an early version Clontarf CC. Indeed in the same year a Second XI played against Powerscourt so clearly it was thriving at that time
Clonliffe CC (9) – in 1862 Clonliffe played against a Clontarf team
North Strand Church Club (10) – were operating in 1894, a notice calling a general meeting a the Schoolhouse appeared in the Irish Times Ierne CC (11)– played league cricket in Drumcondra 1935-53 Fairview CYM CC (12) -1929-32 Richmond/Richmond Asylum/St. Brendans (13) – played in Grangegorman 1919-1964 Beaumont CC (14) – Appear in Clontarf CC fixture card 1901 Virginians CC (15) – the team of John Player Tobacco and an advertisement for their product Drumcondra CC (16) – we have a number of references for this club from as early as 1883 till 1908 Sutton CC (17) – Irish times 22/7/1931 Postal Services CC (18) – another workplace team operating 1932-54 based in Whitehall (near Viscount Pub, Whitehall). Had a successful team thanks in part to Engineers from Engand who located to Dublin to work in Post and Telegraphs. Also a strong hockey club which became Lorraine HC. Whitehall CC (18) – reference in IT 2/8/1864 game v Ormonde Mt Joy CC (19) – reference IT 26/6/1876 Royal Hibernian Marine School (20) – appear as a league team in 1912 fixture card Charlemont CC (21) – reference Irish times 30/7/1861 with 2 teams
Ger Siggins also provided references to Howth CC (22), Clare Hall CC (22), The Donahies CC (23), Bohemians (as in the football club) (24) We must also consider schools in the area. Royal Hibernian Marine School (25) Mount Joy School (26) - grounds were in Clontarf at Strandville Avenue, where the original pavilion still stands. Cricket in the school was run by Cyril Hughes, father of Podge Hughes Mount Temple Comprehensive (27) - cricket has been rejuvenated in the school and hopefully will continue with Robert Forrest and Andrew Poynter on the current staff. The school also is the sie of Clontarf CC’s 2nd pitch. Ard Scoil Ris (28) – played schools cricket under direction of Cricket Leinster Development officer Fintan McAllister St. Pauls College (29) – played school cricket for a period in the 1970/80s Santa Sabina (30) through the influence of Joan Burgess who was a PE teacher in the school, cricket was introduced and Holy Faith, Clontarf (31) - another feeder to Clontarf, played Santa Sabina in the final in 1981 (Santa Sabina won) Manor House Girls School (32) – also played in schoolgirls league of 1981 We cannot forget Primary School cricket and Springdale NS (33), Scoil Mobhi (34), Belgrove Boys (35) and Howth Road (36) have all played in the CL competition the Leprechaun Cup, with the latter 2 both recent winners.
So as we move around within our 5K limit there are plenty of places where cricket has been played over the years and maybe some ghosts of cricketers past.
Note: Many thanks to Evans Dexter and Stan McMullen for all the information provided for this article, they know so much about cricket from the 40s onwards in Leinster and love to talk about it. Thanks also to Lesley Cahill and her family who provided all the information on Santry CC, which all started with a chance conversation about a mystery medal (still not solved). David Jermyn provided the background on St. Mary’s BaBas and finally to Ger Siggins for his unending work in keeping cricket history alive. Other references Through Countless Ages (Arthur Garrett), The story of the Guinness Estate (Joan Ussher Sharkey)