1978 – 1993

Pope John Paul was elected
All-Ireland double for Cork Minor And Senior hurlers
R.T.E. 2 Pilot transmissions
And Healy’s Squash Courts, Cloghroe, were opened.
The Healy’s have been in the pub trade in Cloghroe for over 130 years from the time Daniel and Ellen were the first landlords up until 1980 when Donal and Mary sold the pub. The Healy family, Donal and his wife Mary, his parents Thomas and Mary and other relatives, especially his uncle Donal, were responsible for the establishment of this squash centre in Cloghroe. Donal and Mary were both very keen sports people. Mary was well known in badminton circles having played with Ballincollig and the newly formed Inniscarra Badminton clubs while Donal was and still is a very keen golfer.
This new development was the latest in a long range of improvements done to Healy’s lounge bar and the family are to be congratulated on their awareness of the needs of the area. The fact that Cloghroe was centrally located and within a few minutes drive of large residential centres such as Blarney, Ballincollig, Ovens etc. ensured a strong demand for membership. A new club was formed at a meeting held on Monday 11th September 1978 to which intending members were invited.
The centre had two courts, a viewing area, modern changing room facilities and a sauna. Testament to its high standard was the fact that Cork Squash Rackets Association reserved the courts on Friday 8th September 1978 to play a number of trial matches, in order to pick the Cork team to travel to London the following October.
Donal explained that they felt there was a strong need for a facility such as this in the area and were very pleased with the way everything had turned out and said the facilities there were on a par with any to be found elsewhere. Healy’s Squash Courts, Cloghroe, were officially opened by Des Scannell, President of the Irish Squash Rackets Association on Tuesday 5th September 1978. It was followed by a brief discussion on the rules of the game and an explanation of what was involved in playing. This was followed by a series of exhibition matches, played between Denis Cronin (Collins) and Tommy Kelly (Highfield) in the gents and Carmel Lee and Margot Farrell, both of the Cricket Club, in the ladies. These were four exceptional exponents of the game at the time.
Speaking at the opening, Mr. Scannell stressed how squash, the fastest growing sport in Ireland, afforded possibly the best opportunity of fulfilling the new state of awareness of the benefits of fitness and good health, which was being actively promoted by the Government and the National Sports Council. He went on to say “the demands of field and team games on time and energy are such that it is regarded as exceptional for people over the age of 35 to continue playing. Such people, knowing the value of physical fitness, are turning to other sports rather than retiring completely from physical activity. Squash is one of these games. It is particularly suitable for modern living where time is a vital factor in all our everyday lives, giving a high concentration of physical activity in a short space of time. Anybody can play squash and be in and out of the club within an hour, so there should be no such thing as a squash widow in theory”, he concluded.
It was a very vibrant club during these years, organising a host of club competitions and participating regularly in the County Leagues accommodating both ladies and gents in equal measure. Individuals could book their time slot, usually 40 minutes, in advance. The time was controlled by a coin meter operating the lights. Bookings were very brisk so you really needed to be on your toes when the booking sheet opened. Individuals also played “friendlies” to keep fit and sharpen up their skills. The “ladder” was one of the highlights; nobody wanted to lose a ladder game and it was also used for selecting the various teams.
Toby Featherstonhaugh came to join the club with his partner Margaret Lucas. They came from Jersey soon after the club was founded and lived locally. Margaret and Toby ran a very successful pottery business in Farnanes for many years. Toby later became almost full time coach to the club ably assisted by locals Mary Lahiffe, Bridget Hall, Frank Mc Sweeney and Jerry Mc Carthy. This, together with the fact that Margaret, who herself was a very accomplished squash player and coach, was a significant boost to the members. Their contribution was immense. With their help and expert tuition the club won many team divisional titles, including the Ladies First Division title in 1988 and 1989.
Players also excelled at individual level, with many representing their Province while Karen Healy and Olive Corcoran were honoured by being selected to represent their country.
Sponsorship was and is vital for any club and Healy’s Squash Club was very fortunate in having the late Johnny Murphy as a member. Johnny owned Murphy’s Electrical in Cork and regularly sponsored events in Cloghroe. Other generous sponsors including Ford (Ireland) Ltd, The Wayside Inn, Blair’s Inn, Arthur Ring And Sons Ltd., Ryan Air, Cummins Sport and others ensured there was an in-house team competition every month. Cork Squash were equally fortunate in having TSB as its main sponsor during that time. TSB was headed up by Michael Conlon who was himself a very keen squash player.
By 1993, the enthusiasm for squash as a sport was waning, so Donal and Mary had to seek out alternative use for the courts. This brought down the curtain on Healys Squash Club. Having been rented for various uses, storage in particular, the building was eventually knocked and replaced by a seven unit apartment block in 2000.
Our sincere gratitude is due to the Healy family for their foresight in building this sports facility in 1993 and all the exercise and
enjoyment it provided.
We thank Donal and Mary for their help and contribution in compiling this review.