The membership continued to grow both on the men’s and the Associates’ side. Military Members
began to appear around 1910, also Military Ladies. There was one “Civic Guard.” The first world
war period, (1914 to 1918) was difficult for all golf clubs and Hermitage was no exception.
Hermitage House was leased by Mr. Crozier to the British military as a convalescent home for
wounded soldiers, in fact it became more of a hospital than a nursing home, and as the patients
were allowed the freedom to walk around the course, this kind gesture by the members did not
make club life any easier.
There was too, the alarming suggestion, that one of the “nines” might be requisitioned for the
“grow more food” campaign, but the crisis was averted, as was that of the British Army
atmosphere, which was common to some of the bigger Clubs in the turbulent days of 1920-’22.
After the last British soldiers had left Hermitage House, it became, curiously enough, a hotel for
some two or three years and then it was converted to apartments. The Hermitage Course, which
had started out as a nine hole course initially, was completed when the second nine was added in
1907. The following notice appeared in the 1911 edition of the “Irish Golfers’ Guide.”
Hermitage Golf Club
Founded 1905. An 18 hole inland course. Lucan Electric Tram Car station at gate. From
Dublin leave the Phoenix Gate, Kingsbridge by electric tram. Journey about half an hour.
Tram vouchers can be obtained. Secretary. M.E. White, Hermitage Links, Lucan, Co. Dublin.
Tel: 19 Lucan. Captain. R.T. Blackburne. Professional: T. Shannon. Membership Fees: Entrance: Men £3.3s, Ladies £2.2s. Annual Subscription: Men £3.3s, Ladies £1.11s.6d.
Membership: Men 200, Ladies 97.
Visitors’ fees. 1s.6d per day, except Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, when 2s.6d is charged. Bogey 76. Records (A) Lionel Munn 76 (P) Fred Smyth 71. Sunday play allowed.
Affiliated to Golfing Union of Ireland. The Hermitage course lies on the southern bank of the river Liffey, a few steps, as it were, from the pretty little old-fashioned town of Lucan, and a short walk from the well known, modern Spa Hotel, so that golfers, if they will, can, in that fortunate locality, do a course of waters as well as indulging in their favourite game.
Extracts from the “The Irish Field”.
“In a sense the Hermitage Club may be looked on as an offshoot of that older and smaller Lucan Club. The links of the Hermitage Club lies on the southern bank of the river, in a most picturesque bit of country, and the members of the club have spared neither trouble nor expense in making the club generally complete and comfortable in every way. You find on arrival that great desideratum, a commodious, well arranged club house where the inner man is well catered for at economical rates.
Taken as a whole, the course provides excellent golf, and should be improved out of knowledge during the next few years, judging by the efforts of the Greens’ Committee in every direction.”
War on Heat, Ball-cleaners and Champagne
Because of World War 2, there were cutbacks in many areas of Club life. In January 1942, for example, it was decided to turn-on the central heating in the clubhouse only on Sundays and Tuesdays. A proposal to buy three ball-cleaners for the course was turned down. The proposed painting of the bungalow was to go ahead, but other painting jobs were put on hold.
In January 1943, in answer to complaints about the quality of catering, it was pointed out that commodities were in very short supply and that it was only through the help of certain members that matters weren’t worse. In September of the same year, there were to be no visitors at the Captain’s dinner except the Captain’s invitees. No champagne was to be served and no extra staff were to be employed. Tea, sugar and butter were in such short supply that the Dept.of Supplies was contacted on a number of occasions to elicit larger amounts.
Pulling the Plug
The conservation of electricity was a major concern at this time. Through 1942 there were various proposals concerning the use of the avenue lights. At one stage, these were to be used only on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 6.00pm to 11.00pm. On other nights, they could be lit only by special request. Another proposal was that the lights be lit on Sunday nights from 9.00pm to 11.00pm, only if there were no moonlight. And an even more curious proposal stated that the avenue lights should always be lit on the nights of informal dances in the clubhouse!
Due to lack of electricity, the serving of hot meals was also greatly restricted. Societies were forewarned that they would be served cold meat at their evening meal and some were even asked to bring their own sugar and butter! Even so, these restrictions did not deter societies coming back again and again during the war years.
These included the Fruit Traders, The Irish Schools’ Union, Knights of the Road, Arnotts, Belvedere, Irish Chemists, Licensed Vintners, and various Government departments.
Sheep and Sweep
Two revenue-generating ploys by the Committee of the time were the letting of the course for sheep grazing during certain months of the year and the running of sweepstakes on major races.
From 1938-1948, the annual grazing fee rose from £45 to £160. The sweepstakes on races like the Galway Plate, the St. Leger and the Grand National generated hundreds of pounds each for the Club over the years.
Dancing at Hermitage…and Elsewhere
Despite rationing and the worries of war, a rather vibrant social scene existed in Hermitage through the late ’30’s and ’40’s. Dancing was the central element of this socialising. In fact, a special Dance Committee was formed each year to organise the annual formal Club dance at a city venue such as the Gresham Hotel or the Metropole Ballroom. A strict record of expenses was kept and furnished to the Hon. Treasurer. While these dances were normally held late in the year, it was not unusual for the Dance Committee to organise extra dances to coincide with other major events in Dublin such as the Horse Show. Although the main emphasis was on members and their partners having an enjoyable social evening, a modest profit was usually made.
Informal Club dances were a regular feature of the social scene at Hermitage through the ’40’s and ’50’s. From mid-Summer to late December, a series of dances was held either at fortnightly or monthly intervals. In addition to the profit made at the door, the profit made at the bar made a significant contribution to Club finances.
Scarcity of Golf Balls
It’s difficult at this remove to appreciate how the scarcity of golf balls affected play during the war years. Golf Clubs throughout the country drained their water features to retrieve balls for later use. In April 1942 Hermitage decided that one golf ball per month would be issued on request to each member, accompanied by a written receipt. Except in special circumstances, golf balls were not to be issued in advance to members or associates going away on holiday.
By October, no further issue of golf balls could be made. Six months later there was still no improvement, but six months after that, members and Associates playing in Mr. Joe Candy’s Special Prize were each given a new golf ball. However, things began to get better in late ’43 when it was announced that any member or Associate who had not got a ball during the year was to get one on application. Eventually matters improved greatly when Dunlop wrote to say that 84 dozen golf balls were to be supplied to the Club. This was quickly followed by Spalding also sending a quota
All Together Now
As so often happens in time of need, there was a significant growth in co-operation between members and associates, particularly in social matters. In March 1940 a new Social Committee was formed, consisting of six members and six lady associates. On the golf front a match was arranged for the first time ever between a Captain’s selection and a Lady Captain’s selection.
In November 1943 estimates were received for the painting of the bar and the cocktail lounge,but in the expectation that a loss would be made on the year’s activities, a notice inviting subscriptions from members towards the painting work was posted. The associate ladies were later thanked for their generous support of this fund. Eighteen months later, the lady associates were profusely thanked by Captain de Lacy for their generous help in making the Hermitage Foursomes Tournament such a resounding success. Miss H. O’Connor was singled out for praise for her flower arrangements and her ability to get 3,000 cigarettes for sale in the bar during the tournament!
It was not all plain sailing however, as on one occasion during the war years the lady associates’ committee resigned en bloc in protest at the postponement of the Lady Captain’s prize. A delegation from the members’ committee met the ladies’ committee and happily an amicable settlement was reached and the ladies’ resignations were withdrawn.
In June 1944, a complaint was made to the Captain that some of the associate members were walking through the bar and the Captain undertook to speak to the Lady Captain so that the practice would cease. How times have changed !
A notable feature of some of the war years was that more lady associates joined the Club than members. In 1940 the numbers were 40 members and 57 lady associates, while in 1944 the numbers were 27 members and 44 lady associates.