A Change of Clubhouse
As it turned out, at that meeting in 1938 a decision was taken to acquire Hermitage House and
big support from the lady associates helped to swing the verdict. In the main, the change was met
with approval but it caused a number of resignations from the older members, male and female.
Hermitage House was in very poor shape and a lot of work had to be done to restore it so that it
would be ready for occupation in 1938. It consisted of a large two-storey building over a
basement. It covered an area of 5,500 sq.ft. (510 sq. mtrs) and had a slate roof. A large baywindow
gave a magnificent view of the surrounding wooded countryside, traversed by the
meandering river Liffey. After serving as a nursing home for wounded British soldiers during the
first world war, it became the Hermitage Hotel for a short time, about 1924. From 1926 to 1937
it was rented by John Howard from James T. Crozier for £75 per annum. Howard however, did not
live in the house but in a corrugated iron bungalow consisting of six bedrooms and a bathroom,
which was situated beside it. This bungalow was subsequently to be used as accommodation for
golf club staff.
The accommodation provided for the members was quite an improvement on the old pavilion.
The ground floor consisted of a hall, an office, a dining room (seating 50), a card room and a
lounge bar. The first floor consisted of a ladies’ lounge, a ladies’ locker room and a bathroom. In
the basement were a kitchen, larders, a storeroom, a cellar, a boiler room and a billiard room (used
as a store).
A new block (2,100 sq.ft.) containing 16 lockers, showers, toilets and a drying room was
constructed for the male members close to the main building at a cost of £970. The club also built
a new professional’s shop and a caddy shelter. A new 35 year lease was agreed effective from the
1st January 1937 at a rent of £380 for the whole townland. Once the club had relocated, the old
pavilion was demolished.
In acquiring Hermitage House from landlord James Crozier the club also gained the land on which the summer 10th was later constructed. Work had started on laying out the new 10th prior
to the move down from the old pavilion. Club professional, Matt McDermott, aided by his assistant Paddy Gunning were highly praised for the construction of a most imaginative hole.
Naturally, the course was altered again to fit in with the new land acquired, the most interesting change was now the picturesque summer 10th. This hole was played from an elevated tee and it proved to be a unique and terrifying hole for some of our visitors playing it for the first time. (In 1962 Paddy Gunning and his ground staff laid out the winter 10th, in order to preserve the summer one.)
Lengthening the first from being a par 3 to a par 4 followed and other extensions were made to the 9th, 15th, and 18th.
The Hermitage Foursomes – 1939-1950
It was Emmet Dalton, of the 1935 Junior Cup team, who proposed the setting-up of the Hermitage
Foursomes, at a committee meeting in April 1939. It rapidly became one of the most attractive
competitions in the Irish golfing calendar and was played each year from 1939-1950 inclusive –
proving extremely popular with both players and spectators. In fact, so large were the crowds of
spectators that the club had to employ stilesmen to collect the 2/6 admission fee at the gates and contractors were employed to cut back the rough in preparation for the tournament.
Tents were erected in the vicinity of the clubhouse and banners festooned the driveway. Extra clerical staff were employed for the month prior to the tournament, a programme was produced
by the club and the draw for the tournament was published in the national press.
Hermitage was always very appreciative of the help given by neighbouring club Lucan on the days of play. This pro-am matchplay foursomes was the first of its kind in Ireland and former Captain and Lord Mayor of Dublin, Lorcan Sherlock, presented a special trophy to be awarded to
the winning amateur. The winning professional received a cash prize.
Tough Format – Big Names
32 pairs played two rounds of 18 holes match play on both Monday and Tuesday, followed by a 36 holes final on Wednesday. It was well supported by the leading
professionals and amateurs of the day, including Fred Daly, Harry Bradshaw, Paddy Gunning, John McKenna, Joe Carr,
Jimmy Bruen, Gerry Owens, Brennie Scannell, Jimmy Carroll and our own Tom Bishop.
Carr and Bradshaw
Paddy Gunning and his partner, the renowned J.E. Dalton, were beaten 2 and 1 by the formidable partnership of Joe Carr
and Harry Bradshaw in 1940/’41. Bradshaw and Carr were to dominate the competition for many years and it was
generally accepted that the power of this partnership would have beaten any competition in Britain or Ireland at the
time. However, records show that they were not the first winners of the championship. That honour went to the
Ulster pair of Clifford McMullan (an international in 1933/’34 from Knock) and Joe McCartney from Holywood. Subsequently, the only others to interrupt the Carr/Bradshaw run were another Ulster pairing of Fred Daly and Sammy Moore, and Liam Howley and Christy Kane (Royal
All Good Things come to an End
Golf sponsorship was only a pipe-dream at that time, so the club had to provide the prize fund for the professionals. After ten years, it was obvious that the financial strain of keeping the
tournament alive was beginning to show on the club’s resources. The dominance of the Carr/Bradshaw pairing was also an issue – with some senior committee members saying that it was frightening-off potential competitors. It was disappointing therefore, but not surprising, that the competition was brought to a close in 1950.
The Lorcan Sherlock Cup
In 1966, P.V. Doran, Captain of Hermitage, presented the Lorcan Sherlock Cup to the Golfing Union of Ireland, who renamed it The Hermitage Perpetual Challenge Cup. This trophy was presented to the winner of the Boys’ Open Championship of Ireland, a competition which was
discontinued after three years. In 1969 the G.U.I. inaugurated the Youths’ Amateur Open Championship and the Hermitage Cup was presented to the winner. Many great amateur golfers
have lifted this trophy, including Declan Brannigan, Mark Gannon, Tom Corridan, Joey Purcell, John McHenry, Ronan Rafferty, Paul McGinley and in 1990 – Hermitage’s own David Errity, who
subsequently played on the Irish Triple Crown winning team.
In 1999, during the captaincy of Pat Burke, a plaque was unveiled in the clubhouse main hall commemorating this tournament and the great players who had played in it. Basil Russell, chairman of the Communications and Archives committee, assembled many of those who had
participated over the years, for the unveiling of the plaque and a commemorative dinner. In accepting his invitation to the event, the great Joe Carr wrote: “My greatest recollection of
the Lorcan Sherlock Cup is, of course, having played golf with Harry Bradshaw, or The Brad, as he was affectionately known. In my estimation, The Brad was the best foursomes partner ever. He never left the fairway, was marvellous from 100 yards in, and was a tremendous putter. I was quite the opposite –
never hit the fairway, short irons were good and my putting was streaky. We made a wonderful partnership, and when we had won the Lorcan Sherlock Cup five or six times, the committee of Hermitage called us in and said that we were not doing the tournament any good and suggested we
Joe Carr went on to win the trophy with Christy Kane (Royal Dublin) and Christy Greene (Kilcroney) and helped to lift the trophy on eight out of twelve appearances.
In September 1946 Honorary membership of Hermitage was bestowed on Joe Carr in recognition of his great golfing exploits throughout the world and his great support of the Hermitage Foursomes.