Charleville: halfway between Cork and Limerick
As I left to meet Margaret Cashman the Ladies Captain at Charleville, someone asked me where I was going. “Oh!” came the reply, “Why? Tourists don’t go to Charleville.” “Oh yes they do.” I said, “If they like playing good golf courses”.
Later I mused on this interchange, Charleville is a small town (Pop 3000ish) well known in the food processing industry but not for much else. Its long main street with O’Sheas, Morton’s, Paddy Power many bars and a petrol station, does not feel like a tourist destination; rather more like a place people drive through on their way to Cork or Limerick.
I turned up the long road out of town to the golf course and found a different world. An unpretentious club house and behind greens of many hues, grass, trees, leaves and the sun glancing onto the Ist tee.
Just then a young fox cub, strolled up and walked nonchalantly toward the 18th fairway while Lucy, leashed, growled in her throat. “We have two foxes who have adopted us.” Said Joy Binchy. “They think they own the place.”
Inside the club is an impressive Board listing Presidents. The first name is Owen Stanislaw Binchy. The last is Joy Binchy his daughter in law. As President this summer she led the celebrations for the club’s 75th anniversary.
The club was the men of Charleville’s response to Hitler, the Second World War and Petrol Rationing. No longer able to drive ten miles to play their nearest course they decided to build their own. The town’s doctor formed a small committee. Doc Magner contacted one of his closest friends, Jimmy Bruen, the legendary golfer who lived in Cork. He was renowned for his amazing swing with which he won the British Open in 1946.
Bruen drove out from Cork and with Magner surveyed three possible locations. They negotiated a knock down price of E1,500 for the present site, before holing up in a local mansion where the mahogany dining room table served as an excellent place to build a golf course in Plasticine.
The club opened in July 1941 after a frantic round of fund raising. The Doc bought the Charleville Tennis Club’s clubhouse and relocated it at the golf course. It was made of green galvanised iron and still stands today recycled as the machinery shed. The Clubhouse was well upgraded!
On 5th August 1970 the Doc, 84 years old, played nine holes of golf, had a cup of tea and went to bed. He died in his sleep. As the club secretary commented; “If there is a better way to leave this world I do not know of it.”
So what of his legacy- the club as it is today?