Centenary Day Celebration
Report on Official Drive-In Ceremony
Focus of the first ceremony was the flagpole to the rear of the Clubhouse where the Centenary flag would be raised at 2.00pm. On the cement steps leading to the roof of the locker-rooms, seven members of the Artane Senior Band waited silently. Three trumpets, three trombones and a side-drum were ready to burst into a fanfare and a roll, by way of salute. The musicians' conductor, Sean Brennan, stood at ground level.
Club Secretary, Tony Hand, resplendent in a light grey fedora hat with a navy band, informed the gathering that the Club's steward, Jim Byrne, would be assisting in the ceremony. Then, in a typically mischievous mood, he predicted that Mr Byrne will hand the flag to the President and, all going well, the President will pull like hell and get it to the top. If something goes wrong and Des pulls the wrong string, Des will end up on top of the flagpole and the flag at the bottom.
When laughter had died down, the Club Secretary continued: "I'm reliably informed that when these flags are being unfurled, you can have a golf wish. And may I say that for today's mixed-foursomes players, it wouldn't be right for the ladies to wish for a better partner, nor for the gentlemen to hope they're engaged elsewhere the next time such an event is scheduled."
With that, the President, Desmond Killen and Captain, Seamus Smith, took their seats on either side of the Lady Captain, Ena Gilroy, all attired in their Club blazers. The President then spoke. Fellow members, he said, it is my privilege on your behalf to unfurl this flag today. Reaching this, the first function of Centenary Year, has required a lot of work and support, all of which has been provided unstintingly by our Centenary Committee who deserve our thanks.
He went on to explain that the day's ceremony had three parts. First, there was the raising of the flag. Second was the unveiling of the Centenary Stone. Finally, the Captain and Lady Captain would drive-in at 3.00pm. Then the President said: "Before I undertake the first of these, I'd like you all to think of absent friends today, for one reason or another. From my own standpoint, my thoughts go to Gerry Walsh [the popular Club member who was quite ill at that time]. In the 37 years I've been here, Gerry's been present at every drive-in up to today. I hope that he and all the members who are ill, return to good health as soon as possible."
Then came a roll of the drum and a fanfare from the Artane bandsmen as the President raised the Centenary Flag to the warm applause of the assembled members. With that, the gathering moved at an easy stroll around the front of the Clubhouse and through the car-park, around the back of the Professional's Shop, for the unveiling of the Centenary Stone. It was 2.07pm.
This time, the Captain and Lady Captain did the honours while the musicians delivered another drum-roll and fanfare. That was when rank and file members had their first view of the two-ton monument of Wicklow granite, measuring two metres across and one-and-a-half metres high, which had been placed in its special location, to the left of the driveway, a few days previously.
Intended as a welcome stone, as indicated by the word 'Failte', it was commissioned by the Club from George Cook of Howth Quarries, because he was local and capable of handling every detail, along with the carving which includes the Club crest. Unable to resist further, mischievous humour, the Club Secretary suggested that perhaps the President, Captain and Lady Captain should proceed to lift the stone together, which again brought laughter from the assembled throng.
With the drive-in scheduled for 3.00pm, there was now sufficient time for Seamus and Ena to head to the Lady Captain's house a relatively short distance away in Beaumont, where they changed into clothing of the post-Edwardian era. And when they returned to the Club, it was as passengers relishing the luxury of a dark-green 1960 Rolls Royce. Thankfully the weather remained kind if wintry, with the Clubhouse bathed in sunshine, as Club photographer, Pat Baker, recorded their arrival for posterity. Soon it was time to gather around the first tee, where the GUI were represented by Club member, Jerome Clancy, a council member and convenor of handicapping for the Leinster Branch.
"Ah look!", the crowd reacted on catching their first sight of Ena in her decidedly quaint, 1912 incarnation. A long, rust-coloured tweed skirt and tweed matching jacket was topped by a boater hat. She looked for all the world like a character from Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, possibly even the eponymous sleuth herself.
When he appeared, the Captain complemented her both in colour and style. His crowning glory was a brown tweed cap which matched a splendid, high-waisted tweed jacket with three leather buttons down the front. The emsemble was completed by a floral waistcoat, bow tie and brown pants. Both were carrying antique, hickory-shafted clubs and the Captain's was particularly notable for being a Brassie (two wood) with a brass sole-plate, the handiwork of the noted clubmaker from the early 20th century, Tom Hood, who happened to be the first professional appointed to Clontarf GC. The choice of implement couldn't have been more appropriate.
Ena was first to hit. After two practice swings she made the sign of the cross and after muttering "no pressure" through clenched teeth, despatched an exemplary drive to loud cheers and warm applause. "OK Shay, outdrive that", came the playful instruction from the gallery.
Wearing a white, leather glove as a concession to modern times, the Captain suddenly became aware that the business end of his club was miniscule compared with the 450 cubic centimetres of typical metal models. "Is there a head down there are all?" he wondered out loud. In the event he was equal to the challenge and whacked the ball away into the blinding sun. With that, he looked up and smiled. Mission accomplished.
Reflecting on her ordeal, Ena said later: "I'm delighted I hit the ball. I blessed myself passing Donnycarney Church and the Lord obviously looked after me." Then she added: "It's a great honour, something I never dreamed of. I'm so happy, so happy. Shay is such a gentleman, I've no doubt we'll get on really great together."
The day concluded with the President officially turning on the new floodlights which sent shadows dancing playfully through branches of the neighbouring birch and oak, to the left of the ninth green.
And so, Captain and Lady Captain embarked on a great adventure. Their strokes with ancient hickory had launched the Club into its second 100 years, and the prospect of exploring marvellous new challenges in an endlessly fascinating game.