The first golf course in Ireland was at the Curragh in Co Kildare and there are records of golf being played there in 1852. The Royal Curragh Golf Club was formed in 1858 and it is considered as being the oldest golf club in Ireland. By 1890 there were 12 golf clubs in the country but the next decade saw a period of very quick growth. The Golfing Union of Ireland was formed in 1891 and the Ladies’ Golfing Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1893. Between 1890 and 1899 a further 60 clubs were formed and Lurgan became one of those clubs in 1893.
1893 Formation of Lurgan Golf Club and the First Captain
The following men met on 8 September, 1893, and formed Lurgan Golf Club.
J H Vint, T G Menary, H G MacGeagh,
W T Kilpatrick C Johnston N G Leeper
F Megarry H Lee T Faloon
Mr H G MacGeagh was elected Captain and Mr J Malcolm became President. Mr McGeagh acted as Captain in 1893, ’94, ’95 and again in ’99. Messrs Menary, Johnston, Leeper and Faloon acted as Captain in later years. The names of some of these men and their families live on through some of the major trophies for which we now compete. The first course was 9 holes and laid out by the Captain, H G MacGeagh, in roughly the same place the course exists today. Mr MacGeagh’s daughter Crystal became one of the premier lady golfers in Ireland and won the Irish Ladies’ Championship Cup in 1939. She bequeathed the trophy to the Club and it is competed for by the Ladies each year.
1896 The move to Gracehall
The land upon which the Golf Club lay was in the Brownlow Demesne and when the Brownlow family unexpectedly sold the Demesne in 1894 the position of the Club became precarious. Eventually the Club was informed by Lurgan Real Property Company in 1898 that ‘the links on the Demesne grounds are no longer available’. A search for an alternative site was begun and the Club moved to Gracehall. Gracehall is now a popular wedding venue situated on the Cottage Rd. The field in the picture is still called “The Links”
While it must have been a relief to have found suitable land for the course, there were difficulties which arose shortly afterwards. The course was a little further out of the town which may have presented difficulties for some of the members. The agricultural requirements of the landlord appear to have conflicted with those of golfers which meant that certain holes had to be closed periodically. The Club may have wished to build a clubhouse but were reluctant to do so in case their tenancy was ended unexpectedly.
1918 Woodville Golf Club
Some members supported the idea of relocating to a site on the Lough Rd in the area known as Woodville, where the Lord Lurgan Memorial Park is today. A meeting was convened to consider such a move and although the proposal was defeated in a vote, those members in favour of the move proceeded to make the necessary arrangements. Accordingly, the new Woodville Golf Club was officially opened in November, 1918. Lord Lurgan became its first Patron.
It is interesting to read the names of the first officers of the Woodville Club as some of their names live on through our current trophies. The first Captain of Woodville was Mr Thomas Faloon who was one of the founding fathers of Lurgan Golf Club and had in fact been Captain there in 1897. The first secretary was C W Neill and the Club Council included the names of people whose descendants became closely associated with the subsequent history of Lurgan Golf Club. These included; W J Allen, H L Bell, M Deeny, J Jordan.
1923 The Move from Gracehall
Lurgan Golf Club remained at Gracehall until 1923 when the end of the tenancy was successfully negotiated and land in the Brownlow Demesne became available once more. This land was roughly in the same place the Club had previously occupied and where we remain until this day.
For a period of five years there were two courses very close to each other. Although each club had developed an individual pride and loyalty, discussions were held about possible amalgamation and eventually Woodville Golf Club ceased to exist and the members became part of Lurgan Golf Club in 1928.