Dooks Golf Club will this month celebrate the centenary of Lady Gordon’s captaincy (1921) with a unique Semi-Open set to run over the weekend of the 21st/22nd August. Lady Gordon was the ﬁrst woman to hold the position of Captain in an Irish golf club. She has been the only woman to hold the office of club captain in the History of Dooks Golf Club and the club believes she was also the ﬁrst in the UK and Ireland.
At a special general meeting of the club in 1912, it was minuted that “Ladies shall not be eligible to hold office in the club, but may attend and vote at General Meetings”. In this context it is all the more remarkable that Lady Gordon was Captain of Dooks Golf Club in 1921. It is also worth noting that while the club affiliated to the ILGU in 1913, it would be 1936 before Ladies captaincy would be introduced.
Lady Gordon 1870-1945
Edith Susan Leeson Marshall was born to Richard Leeson Marshall and Rebecca Power of Callinafercy House, Milltown in 1870. Callinafercy House, one of the great houses of Kerry, was built in 1860 by Richard Leeson Marshall from where he ran his 6,000-acre estate. Edith had one brother, Markham, and two sisters, Mary and Grace. Her mother was the daughter of the Venerable Archdeacon Ambrose Power of Lismore.
Markham, an officer of the 3rd Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers was a keen golfer and prominent member in Dooks Golf Club, serving on the committee in the early 1900’s and succeeding his sister as Club Captain 1922-23. During the 1880s, during the Land War, the family lived abroad in France, Belgium and Jersey where they were introduced to the game of golf.
Markham married Mabel Godfrey 1890 of Kilcoleman Abbey, Milltown where the Godfrey family laid out an amateur golf course in the 1890s. Mabel died tragically in 1892 but her sister Helen Godfrey was an active golfer and later prominent member of Dooks. Encouraged by Markham and Helen, Edith became an accomplished golfer and active member of Dooks Golf Club. The Kerry Evening Post of September 14th 1898 when Caragh & Dooks Golf Links operated as an 18-hole course (the ﬁrst 18-hole course in Kerry) reported – “Mr. M. R. Leeson Marshall and Miss Godfrey won the Club mixed foursome competition”.
Edith married a Scotsman named Home Gordon, from Sutherland, in 1897. On his father’s death in December 1906, Home Gordon became the 12th Baronet of Embo and the couple were then titled Sir Home and Lady Gordon.
They shared their time between their London townhouse in Ovington Square, Scotland and Kerry. In 1905 Edith purchased part of the Stokes property at Caragh on which she built a wooden villa called “Ardeen” completed in 1907. In 1913, she demolished Ardeen and rebuilt a new house called Ard na Sidhe, the finest Arts and Crafts style house in Kerry overlooking the lake and now a luxurious hotel owned by the Liebherr family.
Edith was very involved with the Red Cross Kerry Voluntary Aid detachment during WW1 sending aid parcels to British and Irish servicemen incarcerated in German Prisoner of War Camps as was her sister Mary Godfrey, wife of Sir William Godfrey of Kilcoleman, Milltown.
Born into a life of the privileged ruling class in Ireland, she witnessed the War of Independence and the revolution that brought the long period of social ascendency to an end. Lady Gordon was an advocate of Home Rule and an active supporter of the Local Volunteers as reported by the Kerry Advocate on the 22.08.1914
Killorglin Volunteers – Address by Lady Gordon – Speech by Mr. T. O’Donnell M.P. – “a review of the Killorglin, Cromane and Glencar Volunteers was held in Lady Gordons beautiful grounds on Sunday. In numbers, in enthusiasm, and in training the men were deserving of every congratulation. After the review short addresses were delivered.”
Lady Gordon wrote and published her autobiography “The Winds of Time” in 1934. She was a staunch supporter of Home Rule and the following extract from her memoirs reﬂects her strong views on the changing political situation prevailing in Ireland at that time and the challenges that lay ahead for a new Irish Nation.
“For anyone likely to be interested, the existence of the class to which I unhappily belong – a class now almost extinct, and which, in a few more years, will have passed completely out of memory – namely, The Irish “landed gentry”.
Whether the world, or even Ireland, will be the poorer or not for our disappearance is a question which will have to be decided by our successors- the Publicans and the Republicans who are assuming our positions and our responsibilities. I imagine their verdict will be that we were a half-baked lot and not worth preserving: a point of view with which I am inclined to agree, without being at all impressed with the superiority of their own qualiﬁcations.”
It has to be said however that her family did not agree with either her political inclinations or her condemnation of her class.
Home Gordon and Edith separated in 1915 but never divorced: they had no children. In 1928 Lady Gordon sold Ard na Sidhe to the Watson family and moved to Lismore where she purchased a smaller house, Ballyfin. It was here Lady Gordon died on October 28th. 1945 at the age of 75.
“Dooks Golf Club has gone from strength to strength over the decades and is now recognised as one of the premier golf links in Ireland, currently rated 18 in the top 100 courses. The club now wishes to celebrate the centenary of Lady Gordons Captaincy and reﬂect on this great legacy which Lady Gordon and her colleagues laid the foundations of.” – Fergus Foley, President of Dooks Golf Links 2021.
- Booking available through our website www.dooks.com
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