Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Forgotten Ballyshannon Golf Course Over a 100 Years Ago

Not many people may realise that Ballyshannon had a nine hole golf course at the beginning of the 20th century. It is hardly a coincidence that a golf course was started in Ballyshannon as Bundoran Golf Course was in decline at the beginning of the 20th century.  Bundoran Golf Course had opened in 1894 but by the early 20th century this golf club was in trouble as many of its members were country members, who had travelled from long distances to play the links at the seaside. Many of these members lapsed.

The Ballyshannon Golf Club was opened in the first decade of the 1900s with the military at Finner Camp and some local people playing on the scenic golf course overlooking the Erne. Golf was not as widely popular at that period and only the better off would have played the game. The course was nine holes with the longest hole being 440 yards. The Captain of Ballyshannon Golf Club was F. G. Townsend and his wife was the Honorary Secretary.

Grand Fundraising Concert 1910

By February 1910 Ballyshannon Golf Club were hosting a grand concert in the Rock Hall Ballyshannon with ladies and gentlemen from counties Leitrim, Sligo, Donegal, Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh present. This would have reflected golf members at the time as most locals would not have played golf. The golfing fraternity performed a play entitled, Sugar and Cream by J.P. Hurst and the cast included F.G.Townshend, Mr. Wentworth, Mr. G.A. Sparrow, Mrs. Sparrow, Mrs. Mirfield and Mrs. Gregory.

Golf Course Located at Cornhill

Over  twenty years ago Andrew Vaughan, Dunmuckrum, Ballyshannon, told me  that his father let land for the setting up of the Ballyshannon Golf Course on a site overlooking the Erne. The site of the Ballyshannon Golf Course was between Mr. Vaughans residence at the top of Cornhill and the Likely property at the bottom of the hill, adjoining the main road from Ballyshannon to Bundoran. The golf course site is still visible at Cornhill beside the main road. Mr. Vaughan recollected his mother telling him that Miss Knox (later Mrs. Ross of Belleek) played on the course. Her son, John Ross, was later  Captain and President at Bundoran G.C. and a veterinary surgeon in this area. 

Vanished Without Trace

The new club folded around 1916 and Andrew Vaughan remembered as a child, seeing the golfers shed in his fathers farmyard. The Club at Ballyshannon had around 50 members and  officers at Finner Camp played on the course just as they also did at Bundoran. The field at Dunmuckrum was taken over by the British Military in preparation for the Great War (1914-1918) and traces of the tees and greens could be detected until  fairly recent years. They also occupied ground adjacent to Portnason House at the same period.  Bundoran Golf Course revived after the First World War and Ballyshannon golf course disappeared without trace in the 1920s.

Next Blog:  Masters, Murders, Customs and Local Links to Florence Nightingale” will be posted on 27th April

The Gathering in Ballyshannon: Google “The Gathering in Ballyshannon” for more details of special events you might like to attend later in the year. Lots happening in Ballyshannon in the summertime including Rory Gallagher Festival,  Ballyshannon Folk Festival also Ballyshannon 400 celebrating the granting of a town charter in 1613 and the commemoration of the Kildoney Fishermen’s victory in 1933.

Ballyshannon Musings:  Please let people with an interest in Ballyshannon and surrounding areas know about this site, particularly people who are not living locally and those who are abroad. The site is called Ballyshannon Musings and there are a number of back issues available on the internet. Copy this link and forward google The site can be located on the internet (or by connecting to my Facebook page). New items will be posted every week or two on Ballyshannon Musings during 2013the year of “The Gathering”. The blogs are not taken from the book below.

A New Local History suitable for those at Home and Away 

Anthony Begley, local historian, published a new book entitled: "Ballyshannon. Genealogy and History" which reveals newly researched history and genealogy of the town, extending as far as the Rossnowlagh, Cashelard, Corlea, Clyhore, Higginstown and Finner areas. Includes the parishes of Kilbarron and Magh Ene.
The genealogy material provides detailed guidelines for anyone tracing their roots in the area or anywhere in County Donegal or Ireland. The book contains 500 pages and is richly illustrated with stunning colour, aerial photography, original illustrations and rare photographs of the area not seen before.

Topics include: How to go about Tracing your Roots/The first settlers in the area/ Newly researched history of the town of Ballyshannon and the townlands in Kilbarron and Mágh Éne parishes/ Records of the first travellers and tourists to Ballyshannon, Bundoran, Belleek and Ballintra/An aerial guide to place names along the Erne from Ballyshannon to the Bar/Flora and Fauna of the area/ A history of buildings and housing estates in the locality/Graveyard Inscriptions from the Abbey graveyard, St. Joseph’s and St. Anne’s /Rolling back the years with many memories of the Great Famine, Independence strugglle, hydro-electric scheme, Gaelic games, boxing, handball, Boy Scouts, soccer, mummers, characters, organisations, folklore and lots more.

Book Available from Anthony Begley West Rock Ballyshannon. tel. 0872351044. Enquiries welcome for postal and other details, also available from The Novel Idea Bookshop Ballyshannon and The Four Masters Bookshop Donegal Town.

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