The Monday Golfers’ Society
The period after the Second World War was a trying time for many golf clubs throughout the
country but fortunately Hermitage was not too badly affected by resignations. For example in July
’45 there were 231 ordinary members on the books, 165 lady associates and 64 other associate
categories, making an overall total of 460. By July ’46 the number of ordinary members had
increased by 62, the lady associates by 17 and other associates by 10, and that despite the fact that
members’ subs had increased to 6 guineas and lady associates’ subs to 4 pounds at the beginning
of that year. A new entrance fee of five guineas was also established in June ’46. It was a setback
for the executive of the time then that seventy-five members’ names had to be erased from the
books in November ’46 for non payment of annual subs, and that 7 more
members resigned from the club in January ’47.
Founding of the Society
It was against this volatile financial background in the club’s affairs that the
Monday Golfers’ Society was founded within the club.
Hermitage at the time was a noted club for the number of sporting
personalities who were members. The racing fraternity, owners, bookmakers,
jockeys and others enjoyed friendly competition with other sportsmen and
friends from the business world on Mondays at the club. One day a chance
remark about establishing a Monday golfers’ society cropped up in a
conversation between Noel Cregan and Joe Cunningham Sen. The idea was to
form a society to cater for those members who regularly played golf on Mondays
in Hermitage and some weeks later a formal meeting took place between
interested members. The idea of forming an actual Monday Golfers’ Society met
with instant approval and with very little ado Joe Cunningham Sen. was elected
captain. Joe was a very influential figure at the time, a major bookmaker and also
the owner of Shamrock Rovers football club. He was a prominent member of
Hermitage along with his son, Arthur, who was appointed as the Society’s Hon.
Secretary. Later on a committee was formed and a rule book drawn up.
According to the rule book, the objectives of the society were “to arrange golf fixtures and social
functions for its members and for special charitable and deserving causes.” The officers of the
society “shall be full members of Hermitage Golf Club.” The members of Hermitage Golf Club
forming the society “shall not be less than 60% of the total membership.”
Permission was quickly forthcoming from the club granting the “Mondays” permission to
stage their outings on Mondays, subject to the usual arrangements for Society outings. At that
time, club competitions were confined to Saturdays and Sundays with Lady Associates‘
competitions on Tuesdays. With the advent of the “Mondays” a welcome uplift to club finances in
bar and restaurant takings became obvious.
The genial Joe Cunningham did a three year stint as Monday’s Captain 1948-’50, and it proved a
very rewarding time not alone for the Monday society but also for the club itself. A number of
“charity outings” were staged for very worthy causes and that set a precedent that was to be
followed in subsequent years by other office holders. The society grew in popularity under the Cunninghams, and Arthur ran the competitions in
a very businesslike fashion. The Simon Community was one of the main beneficiaries from the
proceeds of the first major fund-raising fourball competition, which attracted a large entry.
Regular members of the Society often contributed individually to such funds. The practice of
helping worthy causes was continued by subsequent Captains of the society. At the end of his term
of office, Joe Cunningham handed over the reins to M.J. Byrne, who had been Club Captain in
1946-’47. Arthur Cunningham was elected the third Monday’s captain for two years, 1952-’53 and
at the end of his term, he resumed as honorary secretary until well into the 60’s.
Success in the DUGSA
Christy Cooke was another member who did Trojan work for the Mondays and was the very
popular choice when Arthur stood down as secretary. The Mondays enjoyed a unique success
when they carried off the coveted DUGSA Trophy in 1950. This is a marvellous matchplay event
open to all Dublin Golfing Societies. Success in this competition followed again on five other
occasions. It spoke volumes for the golfing ability of the membership of the Mondays. It was only
natural that Christy Cooke’s labours as honorary secretary would gain their just reward and such
was the case when he took over the captaincy in 1969, following the sudden death of the
incumbent captain, Dr. Charles Murphy,who sadly died on the course during a round of golf.
Christy Cooke completed his second year at the helm and then resumed his former honorary
secretary position. There was great jubilation on Mick Connolly’s Captain’s day in 1971 when the
long serving Frank Cullen, captain in 1957, teamed up with Wexford’s Paddy Nolan to carry off
the Captain’s prize by a nose. Paddy Nolan cruelly claimed that he played all the golf but that
Frank was better at the talking, so he allowed him to make the speech at the presentation of
prizes. Paddy Nolan became a staunch member of the Mondays taking the captaincy in 1985 to
1987 and was President for the three years 1978 to 1980.
He remembers a day in 1969 on the occasion of Christy Cooke’s Captain’s prize, when Paddy
Meade and Peadar Casey brought in the amazing score of 57 pts to win Christy’s prize. Paddy still
claims this was a world record at the time for an 18 holes stableford competition. But then the
Mondays standard of golf was always very high. Paddy Gunning and a Royal Dublin visitor
Malcolm Campbell, brought in 14 up in the Monday fourball. That beat the previous best of 10
up by Paddy Nolan and Terry Gormley in 1970, but the latter pair had the remarkable distinction
of winning every hole on the front nine.
Since its foundation the “Monday Golfers” have become a household name in Society golf. Many
well known names have been linked to the Monday’s, outside of those who were involved in the
formative years. They range from Hermitage club members to a number of individuals from
outside clubs. The Society has been blessed by the quality of those individuals who have filled the
post of Hon. Sec. Christy Cooke handed over the office to Stephen Conroy. Liam O’Reilly followed
the line to Edward Byrne before it has finally fallen on the shoulders of the cool and efficient Peter
Casey, son of the long serving Peadar.
Over half a century is a long time in the life of any golfing society, and the fact that in the
Club’s centenary year the society is as vibrant as ever is a tribute to the captains and honorary
officers who have nurtured and guided it for that length of time. May it continue to be successful
in providing competitive golf for its members and visitors and in the various charitable ventures
which it takes on board from time to time.