The clubhouse at Kenmare Golf Club was destroyed in a fire on June 1st. It was a disaster on two levels: the first and obvious one is the damage that was done and the costs of repairing it; the second is that this was one of Ireland’s unique clubhouses.
This was… is… a white Victorian wood clubhouse that was a former hunting lodge in the state of Punjab, in northern India. It was transported all the way to Kerry by the Marquis of Lansdowne in 1926, who promptly gifted it to the golf club (on June 1st, ironically) and it has remained as the clubhouse ever since.
This was an accidental fire and is devastating news for the membership who are waiting on insurance reports to figure out what steps come next.
Kenmare Golf Club was founded in 1903, making it 117 years old. Which is why a dozen golfers will be attempting to play 117 holes in a single day this Friday, 12th June, in an attempt to raise funds. Golf will tee off at 5.20am.
In the meantime, there is an active fundraising campaign on gofundme.com HERE where the target figure is €100,000, with close to €55K already raised. Please help the club if you can – the Covid-19 crisis has hit clubs badly enough as it is without adding insult to injury with a fire.
Fires destroying clubhouses are not frequent events in this day and age, but it still happens.
Probably the most prominent fire of recent times occurred on 14th August 2017, when the newly renovated clubhouse at Adare was destroyed in an electrical fire. By a bizarre coincidence, I was driving passed the club on the way to Hogs Head on that same day. Eight fire engines tackled the blaze. The revitalised clubhouse was ready by the following Spring, when the course also re-opened with a match between McIlroy, Harrington, Lowry and McGinley.
Another Irish clubhouse was destroyed in November 2014, when fire completely gutted the building at Dunmore East Golf Club. A replacement, on the same site, opened in mid 2015. And if you want to eat in a restaurant with some remarkable views from the clifftops, this is the place to come.
The fire at Kenmare is not even the most recent: Charleton Golf Club, in Fife, lost their clubhouse last week. The club dates back to 1994, when it was opened by US President George Bush.
Scotland has had its fair share of recent fires, too, with both Machrihanish (founded 1876), and Glasgow Golf Club (founded 1787) losing their clubhouses in late 2018.
It’s not just the buildings that are destroyed – they can be rebuilt – but the records, the photographs and the trophies are a huge loss to the club and, indeed, the history of the game.
That said, the unique clubhouse at Kenmare can never be replaced. It can, however, be replicated – and that certainly seems to be the goal of the club – and to do that they are looking for support from golfers everywhere. Click on the above link and make a donation. It all helps.