The history of the Ennis Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club

The history of this club is really the history of four clubs.
  • 1. The County Clare Tennis Club ( 1888-1948)
  • 2. The Fergus Lawn Tennis Club ( 1935-1982)
  • 3. The Ennis Badminton Club ( 1958-1982)
  • 4. The Ennis Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club (1982 to the present)

1. The County Clare Tennis Club

This club was built in 1888 approx at the current site on Mill Road. Its history is linked to the adjacent Bannatyne mills. These were built in the early part of the 19th century by Alexander Bannatyne who built Westbourne (the current house of Bishop Walshe) in 1856. The manager of the mills J.F.Harris lived adjacent to the club in Woodlands (McInerneys), which was also owned by Bannatyne. This house backs onto the tennis courts 2&3. J.F. Harris had a daughter Martha who was a very good tennis player. Martha only had to walk to the end of her garden to play at the club. (A Miss Scott won the Ladies Doubles tournament of 1889). She married Rev. Richard Scott in 1889 who was also a keen tennis player. He was the Presbyterian minister whose church is the current library, and they lived at the Manse next door. They had four children, of whom daughter Irene (Rene) was an all round sports woman, and excelled at tennis and badminton. With her sister Jessie they ran the tennis club until the late 40’s. In later years she set up a social badminton club in the former church. She was the last surviving member of the Scott family, and continued to live at the Manse until her death in 1983. The club was also linked to the Rev. Julius Henry Griffith whose church was St. Columba’s, Church of Ireland on Bindon St. He lived at 1 Bindon Street. His family feature in a photo taken at the club in 1888. The club had a large and beautiful pavilion with white walls and a wine roof. The profile of this pavilion can still be seen today under the ivy above the oil tank. It extends from near the light pole on court 1 all the way to the entrance to the shed. It had the classic shape with a veranda for watching the tennis on, with an entrance into a large room that held functions. The mens dressing room and toilet was off this on the left hand side, with the ladies on the opposite side. There was an adjacent shed to hold the maintenance equipment. This pavilion continued to be used up to 1978 when it was burnt down. There were four lawn tennis courts. Tennis was a very popular sport in Ireland during the late 19th Century, with tennis clubs in every town. The Mens and Ladies Wimbledon Champions of 1890 were Irish. The Club opened every year in May and closed in September. It played many tournaments and inter club matches over the years against visiting teams. It was a very exclusive club that also ran a successful open tournament every year up to the 40’s. Its membership dropped dramatically after WW2. It then amalgamated with the Fergus Lawn Tennis Club in 1946 and was taken over by them in 1948.

2. The Fergus Lawn Tennis Club

This club was established in 1935 on the property of Mr. Frank Cassidy, Cusack Road. The club had four grass courts and a large pavilion painted green and red. Its first Committee included Mr. Jerry Ryan (President), Frank Cassidy, Mick Coleman, Bill Bluett, Ned Hickey and Frank O’Connell. It became an extremely popular club, with regular socials and dances held in the pavilion. It sent its best juniors to Fitzwilliam for the Irish Junior Championships on a regular basis, with great results. The Cahill Cup was presented to the club in 1944 for the Mens Singles Championship by Paddy Cahill, Munster and Leinster Bank. It was a beautiful trophy and is still given to the mens champion at the club to this day. By 1946 the club was bursting at the seams and it decided to amalgamate with the County Clare Club. In 1948 it moved from the Cusack Road to the current site on Mill Road and replaced the previous club. It became even more popular and successful through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The club became the best location in Ennis for young people and ran regular ‘hops’ every Saturday night at the old pavilion. It also ran two fundraising dances every year in Kilkee and Lisdoonvarna. On the five grass tennis courts there was endless competitions and tournaments. The first hard court was installed in the early 50’s, and the second in 1962. The remaining grass courts were replaced with a pitch and putt course. The club then became the Ennis Tennis and Pitch and Putt Club. By the late 1970’s the club ran into disrepair and was effectively closed. The old pavilion was burnt down and the courts were flooded on a regular basis. Fr. Sean Moriarty (Singles Champion 1948, 1956, 1965, 1973 and 1975) and his committee bought the title for the site, and withstood many offers to sell it. In 1982 they had the foresight to amalgamate the club with the Ennis Badminton Club (Chairman Tom Eade) who had 150 members but no grounds. It is hoped to hold a re-union next year (July 2010) to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Fergus Lawn Tennis Club.

3. The Ennis Badminton Club

This club was established on the 7th Nov. 1958 at St. Michaels Hall (currently Maddens Furniture storeroom). Its first Committee included Tom Dillon (Chairman), Breda Fitzpatrick and Una O’ Brien (Joint Secretaries), James Halpin and Joe Williams (Joint Treasurers). Its initial name was the Catholic Social Club, but then became the Ennis Badminton Club in 1966. It started with just one night a week available at the hall. In 1964 it had 80 members. To fundraise the club held many plays, and an annual Christmas Social at the Old Ground. It ran many club competitions and had many successful teams in the leagues that incorporated Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. In 1970 it moved to Our Lady’s Hospital. In 1982 the club had nearly 150 members and needed its own hall. At a special E.G.M. the club amalgamated with The Ennis Tennis and Pitch and Putt Club to form The Ennis Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club.

4. The Ennis Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club

The Ennis Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club was established in 1982. The cost for the work needed to develop the entire site was estimated at £99,000, an enormous sum at the time. The developments included:
  • Buying the stone from the mill next door which was about to be knocked down. This stone was used to elevate the site which flooded every winter, and create a new car park.
  • Building a new clubhouse with 2 badminton courts, dressing rooms, showers, toilets and a gallery overlooking the courts.
  • Constructing 2 new hard tennis courts with new fencing and floodlights.
  • Building perimeter fencing with a gate for security.
This work was completed in Nov. 1983, and another hard court was installed in 1984. The club flourished in both tennis and badminton. In junior badminton it produced many internationals with Donie O’Halloran going on to become a Senior International. There were and are still many social events, competitions and tournaments. In the early 90’s the landscaping was completed and floodlights were installed on court 3. In Jan. 1994 there was severe flooding in Ennis. All 3 tennis courts were submerged and water lapped up to the clubhouse door. It was then decided to build two state of the art artificial grass courts (4 & 5), with floodlights and drainage, twenty eight inches above the existing car park. These were completed in 1985. In 1987 the original courts 1, 2 & 3 were elevated to the same level, with a green acrylic surface, and by 2002 these were also covered with artificial grass. The entire cost of developing the 5 courts was 250,000 Euro. There have been many improvements since and the club has currently 400 members.

Members of Ennis Tennis Club in the late 1880’s. Back Row: Julius Henry Griffith (6th, white cap); Fitzgerald Griffith (8th); Percival Griffith (11th); Charles McDowell (12th); 2nd row from back: William Henry Scott (5th, top hat); Maud Mc Laurin (7th in white); Lily McDowell (10th in white). 3rd row from back: Susan Scott (6th, dark dress); G.Griffith (11th, black hat). Front row: Pearl Griffith (10th, in white).

Club Champions at the County Clare Tennis Club (est.1888)

Mixed Doubles Champions: Mr. D.P.Griffith and Miss J.Simms.
Miss Simms was presented with a gold and pearl bangle by Mr. J. Lopdell esq.

Mens Singles: Mr.H.Crowe
Ladies Doubles: Miss Miniken and Miss Scott
Mens Doubles: Mr. C. Miniken and Mr. G. Wright
Mixed Doubles: Mr. H.Crowe and Miss. Barlowe

Mens Final: R.Allshire v. C. Miniken
Ladies Singles: Miss T. O’ Gorman
Mens Doubles: Mr. H. White and Mr. C. Fleming
Ladies Doubles: Miss E. Pilkington and Miss Miniken
Mixed Doubles: Mr. C.Fleming and Miss Miniken

Mens Singles: Mr. H. Crowe
Ladies Singles: Miss M. Simms
Mens Doubles: Mr. H. Crowe and Mr. Greer
Ladies Doubles: Miss A. Simms and Miss M. Simms
Mixed Doubles: Mr. H. Crowe and Miss Bomford

Mens Singles: Mr. H. Crowe
Mens Doubles: Mr. A. Sharpe and Mr. A. Brady
Mixed Doubles: Mr. H. Crowe and Miss Greene

Ennis Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club, Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland | Email: | Phone: (087)2885920 (after 6pm)

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