Eugene O’Sullivan should have been looking forward to his President’s Day outing at Kenmare Golf Club on Sunday.
Instead, like the rest of the membership at the picturesque golf course on the Ring of Kerry, he is waiting anxiously on engineers’ reports and insurers’ assessments for the true cost of the damage caused by the fire that ripped through their historic clubhouse last Sunday night.
The Victorian white, wooden clubhouse, which had been previously used a cricket pavilion or hunting lodge in India before being brought to Kerry by the Marquis of Lansdowne had been an iconic landmark on the entrance to the town since the 1920s but there are fears it may have to be demolished due to last weekend’s fire, leaving the 300-400 membership with the task of building a new headquarters.
“It’s a real pity and a shock to us,” club president O’Sullivan said. “We have set up a fundraising committee but we need to see the engineers’ report and hear from the insurers’ assessors as to the size of the job we are facing.
“Like a lot of Kerry clubs we rely a lot on green fees from holidaymakers and societies coming down here and we will need to put proper facilities in place if we want to get them back.
“The members can still play as they would have been doing under the current restrictions as the clubhouse and toilets have been closed since we re-opened.
“They have been parking up, getting out of their cars and playing away before getting back in their cars again but of course if the clubhouse had been open, the fire might not have happened had we been inside (on Sunday night). We’ll never know.”
Kenmare auctioneer and Fine Gael county councillor Patrick O’Connor-Scarteen is a long-standing member of the golf club and he said the loss of the clubhouse would be felt by the town as a whole.
“It’s run by the members and there’s a good cross-section of the community involved since 1903,” O’Connor-Scarteen said.
It was intimate, perfect just the size it was and you’d have had a lot of 21st birthdays, baptisms, special surprise parties, for everyone in the community, people who didn’t play a lot of golf.
“So a lot of memories and not purely for the golf-club people, those who might have gone there for a drink or a bit of lunch.
“To be fair, the emergency services were great, a fire would rip through a wooden building like that a lot quicker… but the people of Kenmare are quite resilient and they’ve got good hearts.
“When it’s a small-enough community people rally a lot for issues like this and I’m sure now the management committee will put a strategy in place, get all the red tape sorted first, and then get the fundraising up in place.”