HISTORY OF STRADBROOK
Letter written by Paddy Gateley to Sean Redmond, Club Member, in 2002
May Myserscough and I were married in August 1947 in the Church of the Assumption, Booterstown Avenue and lived in an Apartment on Mt. Merrion Avenue until 1949, when we bought a House on Rochestown Avenue - “The Hills”. Rochesstown Avenue was a Country Road with very few Houses – 3 two storey houses, 5 bungalows and the Seadors Hospital. In 1962 we had a Family of two Daughters, a pony, two dogs and ¾ an acre of land. My wife was anxious to get a second pony, which would mean more land. She asked me to look at “Somerset”, Stradbrook – 8.1 acres and an Edwardian House, which was coming up for Auction. I did and bought the House and Lands for £14,000. The then President, Frank Hogan, told Blackrock College that I bought it for the Rugby Club, and they were very pleased as Fr. Walter Finn had said that they would have put the Rugby Club out, as space in the College was getting less each year for the Club Teams to play there.
Now I was on the Management Committee of the Rugby Club and was asked to go the Hibernian Bank and arrange an overdraft for £20,000, which I did, and the Title Deeds were given to the Club by Corrigans Solicitors. A tremendous lot of activity followed – Ned Sheehy set about laying the Pitch, Mick O’Dea did planning applications for the bar and a new boundary wall. Cecil Buggy, with Neil Connolly arranged for a dividing (internal) wall to be removed and hoists installed for the new Bar, to bring stock up from the cellar. Bob Humphreys secured an intoxicating liquor licence. Walter Finn suggested that a shed or barn be got for dances to produce cash. I knew Louis Wine fairly well and knew they were building a new Clubhouse in Edmonstown Golf Club, so I went along one Sunday to meet him and the Captain. They wanted £2,000 for their old tin Clubhouse structure, and I offered £750. After a lot of haggling I bought the Nissan Hut for £1,150. On the Monday following Mr. Noyek rang me to say he had presented the maple floor to Edmonstown, but that he would replace it for our structure. I rang Neil Connolly immediately and he sent a squad of men to take it down and packed it off to Stradbrook. Mick O’Dea got the foundation in and 2 weeks later we had a Ballroom, with maple floor and a few extras. It was a good deal as we made £9,000 in the first year of Dances. In the meantime a Belvederian Felix Jones, Architect, and Cecil Buggy, Engineer, had started to build the Dressing Rooms ( previously we togged out in the Kitchen of the House, but only for a short time).
Harry Kenny, who looked after the Seconds, promoted an extension, raised the money and we put up the Bar looking out to the Pitch. We were flying, but unfortunately the Bar was badly managed, so Gussy Weldon and myself put in controls and promoted the paying of a Manager. In 1966 there was a lot of activity on week-ends, but it was like a morgue from Monday to Friday. Harry Devine, Secretary of the Past Pupils Union, suggested a Bridge match between Parents of Rugby Club Players and Members and a Union Team. It was a great Social Night and afterwards it was suggested that a Bridge Club be started. The Blackrock College Bridge Club started in January 1967 and has flourished since then.” Paddy Gateley, President of the Rugby Club in 1972/73 and Life Honorary Member, died in March 2011.
The Bottom Pitches
After the purchase of Stradbrook, House and Pitch, in 1962, the Club availed of the opportunity to rent an adjoining 5 acres for the Junior Teams. The Club secured a Sporting Lease at £1500 per annum. The Land was owned by a Tom Braden, who lived in Howth. Successive Executive Committees thought it highly desirable to obtain the Freehold on the Property in order to preserve the Club’s positioning in the long term. In 1978 Niall Quinn became Club President, with Victor Brophy as Vice-President. Through his position as Manager of the Bank of Ireland Branch in Sutton, Victor came in contact with Tom Braden and he suggested to him a line of action, whereby he would sell his interest in the Property for the sum of £22,000. The owner was delighted with the proposal as he considered the lands restricted due to the Sporting designation and this was in 1977 when no Land was selling.
Victor brought the proposal to the Executive and, with the support of Niall Quinn, they both met Tom Braden in Dun Laoighaire Golf Club and negotiated the sale of his interests to the Club. The President Niall Quinn contacted John Corrigan of Morrisseys Auctioneers to act on behalf of the Club. The Deal was arranged for £22,00, and the Executive agreed to proceed after Victor had obtained the Finance from the Bank. The Deal was subject to the following provision – if the Club sold the 5 acres for building within 2 years, Tom Braden would get 50% of the proceeds and this would be scaled down over 5 years.
Due to the determination of Paddy Gateley, Frank Hogan, Neil Connolly, Mick O’Dea, Ned Sheehy, Harry Kenny, Victor Brophy, Niall Quinn and others, we now have 3 of the best Rugby Pitches in the Country. The original House was knocked down and replaced by the present Clubhouse from 1990, under the Presidencies of Brig.-General Pat Cranfield and Locky Butler.
The lower Pitches were levelled and extended to their present sizes in 2011, during the Presidency of Conor Cleary.