A Link to a Triumph in 2002 and to a Loss in 2020

Have a look at what Castleisland borrowed from the wilderness in 2002 and gave back on April 1st 2020. Drone footage from Castleisland Members Golf Club in its 18 year heyday. To see the promotional video footage just click on the photograph above.
The discarded packaging of the new padlock on the gate to Castleisland Members Golf Club and the sign on the gate tell their own story on Good Friday afternoon. ©Photograph: John Reidy

There’s a link in the top photograph on this page which will graphically illustrate a project which was won by an unwavering community spirit and drive and a lot of hard work in and around Castleisland from 1999 to its launch in 2002.

While watching the promotional video for the Castleisland Members Golf Club you would be excused for thinking of the late, great John B Keane and ‘The Field’ – but without the auction or the murder.

It’s a project borrowed for its ambient wilderness and given back and lost to the wider community – officially on April 1st  – a day usually reserved for pranks and other forms of foolishness.

Looking at the bigger picture the real sadness of the loss of the project is in the jobs that went with it.

Announcement on Fools’ Day

The steering committee of Castleisland Members Golf Club announced on Fools’s Day that the club was no longer viable and it recommended closure to avoid incurring further debt and the possibility of being charged with reckless trading.

The Perfect Storm

There are people who study and understand the ebb and flow of money, its impact on the economy and on the landscape of everything that goes on around us

They often compare the structures around failures to something being hit by a perfect storm.

One such local did so last week when the news emerged from Castleisland Members Golf Club that its fortunes had, indeed, been struck by such a combination of adverse events.

Clouds Were Rolling In

But, apparently, the clouds had been gathering for some time and well ahead of that storm and all the signs were there but were not made public before the storm and all its consequences hit home.

“The restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 Virus really tied our hands as far as hoping to put any kind of rescue package together.

“We were about to put a ‘Split the Bucket’ fundraiser in place. We had the buckets all labelled and everything in place and then the pubs and other likely places were all closed down,” said a club member.

Reasons for the Collapse

In the wake of last week’s closure announcement several reasons were put forward for the collapse of the almost 18 year old club and course.

It was claimed for a while, though not officially, that the owners of the land wanted to convert it for forestry and wind-farming.

Nothing could be further from the truth and, in fact, a family spokesman, while lamenting the demise of the facility, said that the landlords had cut the club some slack more than once in recent years.

Abandoned Home Industry

“The question you should ask is why so many players from Castleisland who had been members of the local club are now playing in so many other clubs and have abandoned home industry – you could say.

“I mean where are the 600 plus players the club started out with gone to over the years when a fraction of that playing and paying membership would have kept the club going now,” he said.

However, the cry of ‘cycling is the new golf’ and an ageing membership from the 2002 opening of the club allied to an increasingly weakening subs’ bench was a plausible reason for the fall-off at the club and many others like it throughout the country.

Closure Featured in UK Golf Magazine

The closure of the Castleisland club course at Tulligubeen made news in a leading British golf magazine last week.

It wasn’t because of the closure itself but its timing that caught the eye and the imagination of the features writer in that Castleisland was held up as a barometer of the game in Ireland in general.

‘The Golf Business’ held up the sad case of the failure here in comparison with the boom in golf elsewhere in the Covid-19 scared world.

“From the Irish golf club that ‘won’t reopen’ to the boom in golf in Singapore, a look at golf and COVID-19 around the world,” is the context in which Castleisland made the news in this month’s edition of The Golf Business which claims to be Britain’s biggest business to business golf club magazine.

State of Golf in Ireland

The article by Alistair Dunsmuir makes the comparison between the depressed state of golf in Ireland by holding up the Castleisland experience as a comparison with the state of play throughout Asia in general.

“The corona virus pandemic has not just had a huge impact on the UK golf industry, but arguably every golf industry around the world – both for better and for worse. In Ireland, so far, it’s the latter.

Since the 2008 Recession

“For example, Castleisland Members Golf Club has recommended to its members that the club is wound up, according to the Irish Examiner.

“The club had suffered from falling membership numbers since the 2008 recession, but planned fundraising opportunities have been abandoned due to the Corona-virus outbreak, and the club is now not likely to reopen once the current restrictions have been lifted.

“The club’s steering committee has sent a letter to its members informing them that the club will be wound up this month unless a rescue plan can be formulated,” and the remainder of the article is given over to the letter from the Castleisland club steering committee.

Talks of a Resurrection

And if you want to talk about a resurrection then Easter is just the time. There is a rumour that refugees from both doomed clubs, those of Killorglin and Castleisland are looking at their current situations and are believed to be jointly attempting to re-float at least one of the clubs.

Meanwhile, Beaufort Golf Club is extending a céad míle fáilte with fee incentives to former members of both failed clubs for when the current restrictions will be lifted.