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This week the world championships of real tennis will be played in Boston USA — the oldest continuously contested title in all of sport dating back 275 years. The contestants are six-time defending champion Robert Fahey — a Tasmanian of Irish ancestry and Camden Riviere, an American making his second attempt to topple the greatest player of the modern era.
There is a curious irony that the contest should take place this week while here in Ireland real tennis enthusiasts and heritage concerns will be making yet another attempt through the planning appeals process to save our only court — one of the most famous of the 50 or so across the globe. It is uniquely built of black limestone, situated in the very centre of our capital city and given freely by bequest of the nation’s most generous benefactors — the Guinness family — to the Irish state in 1939. It hasn’t been played on since. Current Government plans will see that situation confirmed into the future as it is proposed to convert the court to an ‘exhibition space’ — thereby flying in the face of established conservation philosophy to maintain listed buildings in their original designed use.
The Dublin court hosted the world championships in 1890. There is no reason why this could not happen again other than the intransigence of the state’s estate managers to yield to logic and respect of a generous bequest.
Heritage Officer — Irish Real Tennis Association
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