A Brief History of Bridge in Youghal
Youghal Bridge Club
The formation of a bridge club in Youghal was first mooted by John Hancock (later Lord Castlemaine) in the tennis club during the summer of 1941. Miss Annie Meade made the dining room f the Pacific Hotel available to the new club. Lessons were given to the younger members by Tiny Riordan and May Fleming. The members played rubber bridge for 2d a hundred and 3d for the high flyers.
In 1944, the club moved to the Green Park Hotel and played in what was later the bar. With the assistance of Liam Barry, secretary of the South Munster Region, duplicate bridge was introduced. The club held their first At-Home in 1950.
The new club grew in numbers and popularity and moved to the more spacious Adelphi Hotel (now the Walter Raleigh Hotel). In 1953, in response to a nationwide appeal to celebrate the Easter season, the new secretary, Miss Sheila O Byrne and president, Justice O Donovan, undertook the organisation of a major competition, the Tóstal Team of Four. First held in the town hall, the competition soon established itself as the major open teams’ competition in the region. In 1981, Andy and Kay McNulty with Betty and Dermot Cotter became the first local team to win the event. An interesting detail, the cup cost £10.00 and the original first prize was a pair of pickle forks; for the silver jubilee, with a little more money in the kitty, silver cutlery was presented to the winners!
The club gave four presidents to the region: Sheila O Byrne, Eugene O Sullivan, Anne O Reilly and Betty Cotter.
In 1971, the Youghal Bridge Club organised a series of classes which were given by Donal Madden. However, the club spent time deciding on the membership status of these fledgling bridge players. While discussions were taking place, Hilda Flavin and Nancy Ferran founded a new club – the Blackwater Bridge Club.
Blackwater Bridge Club
The inauguration of the Blackwater Bridge Club took place on the 18 June 1971. The meeting was convened by Oliver Broderick at the request of twenty one people, most of whom had taken bridge lessons from Comdt. Donal Madden. Con Buckley proposed the setting up of a new club and the seconder was Alice Walsh. Officers were then elected. Con Buckley, President; proposed by Frieda Flavin and seconded by Catherine Dineen. Alice Walsh, Secretary;. Joan Condon, Treasurer; Nancy Ferran, Frieda Flavin, and Jane McCarthy were elected as Tournament Directors. Comdt. Donal Madden was made an honorary member for life in appreciation of his help in forming the club.
Alice Walsh proposed the name, Blackwater Bridge Club, which received a unanimous seconding. The first official game of bridge was held at the Walter Raleigh Hotel on Tuesday 22June 1971.
Comdt. Donal Madden donated literature, boards and cards to start the club. Blackwater Bridge Club was on its way and continued until the amalgamation of the three clubs in 1992.
ASTRO BRIDGE CLUB
In June 1974 a meeting was held in the home of Con and Rose Buckley with a view to setting up a third Bridge Club in Youghal. Present at this meeting were Con and Rose Buckley, John and Kathleen Lyons, Oliver and Teresa Broderick, Angela O’Connor, Della Reid and Peggy Lawton. Oliver Broderick proposed the name “Astro” for the new club and this proposal received unanimous agreement.
The election of officers then took place and the following were chosen to fill the main positions: President: Teresa Broderick; Secretary: Peggy Lawton; Treasurer: Della Reid.
It was agreed to ask Kevin Martin if he would be willing to act as Tournament Director and he became the first Tournament Director of the club.
The inaugural bridge night of the Astro Bridge Club took place in the Motor Inn in September 1974 and the club maintained its separate and very successful existence until the three clubs in Youghal were merged in 1992
So, for a number of years there were three bridge clubs in the town. Youghal played on Monday and Thursday, Blackwater on Tuesday and Astro on Wednesday. During the 1991-2 season, an effort was made to unify the three clubs An open meeting was held for all bridge players to clarify the situation. It was always emphasized that this was not the formation of a new club, that Blackwater and Astro and Youghal would merge and that the traditions of all clubs would be respected. At the AGM of Youghal club in 1992, it was unanimously agreed to add the word BAY (an acronym for Blackwater, Astro and Youghal) to the name of the club in recognition of the three clubs. This merger has proven hugely successful and the club is thriving to this day. The first president after the merger was Sheila O'Donnell with Peggy Lawton as secretary.
When the Walter Raleigh Hotel changed hands, the club has some difficulty finding suitable premises, and for some years now we play in the pavilion of Youghal Rugby Club.
Club members have had quite a few successes in both Regional and National Championships. Members played on the Munster team on many occasions. But, the most significant honour was when Betty Cotter and Jean Kelly were capped to play for Ireland in the Lady Milne, the home international series.