Founded in 1877…
Monkstown Lawn Tennis Club was the first tennis club in Ireland, just ahead of Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club (November 1877). It used the grounds that had previously been used by the County Dublin (Monkstown) Archers, which had been started in 1846. The two clubs shared the grounds in at least the first year of the tennis club’s existence.
Although virtually all official records of the early years of the tennis club have been lost, it is known that at the beginning there were ten gentlemen and ten lady members. By 1894, Monkstown was one of 18 clubs affiliated to the Irish Lawn Tennis Association. The club seems to have had a small closely-knit membership, linked to the Establishment class. It was common on the occasion of ‘at homes’ to have a band of some regiment of the British Army to play for the occasion.
Most of the Minute Books from 1930 to-date have been retained and show a club that ran fairly smoothly and on a rather casual basis. A feature of this era was the daily serving of Afternoon Teas. Another feature was that the playing of tennis on Sundays was not permitted until 1941; even then play was permitted only until 7:00 pm. This practice lasted until about 1953.
However, over the course of the fifties, the membership numbers dwindled to a very low number. The income generated could not cover the running costs of the club and the courts and grounds dropped to a low standard. A General Meeting was called in 1958, with a proposal to close the club. At the end of a stormy meeting, the motion was defeated. Although some members left at the time, those that remained redoubled their efforts and the club was put back on a sound footing within a relatively short time.
A second crisis was encountered in November 1973, when the club house (built in 1910) was destroyed by fire. The club recovered, with hard work from the committees and a grant from Dun Laoghaire Corporation – a new clubhouse was built in two phases, being completed in 1977. The Clubhouse underwent further major redevelopment in the mid 1990’s, turning it into an attractive facility that gave significantly enhanced viewing areas.
In the early 1980’s a major step in the development of the club occurred when the grass courts started to be replaced, first by tarmacadem, and finally by Omnipro. Today the club boasts 6 courts with excellent astro turf surfaces and a thriving, vibrant community.