Cork Harlequins was founded in 1925, by a group of women employed by Dowdan and O’Mahony, a dairy shop on St Patrick’s Street in Cork, solely as a hockey club. The women had entered a tournament at Church Road in Blackrock and when they took to the pitch, the Captain was asked by the organiser what name should be put on the fixture list. Legend has it, she picked up the ball at her feet, saw it was made by Harlequins of London and the rest they say is history ! By 1931 it was a mixed club with 21 women and 11 men attending the 6th AGM. This meeting decided to reduce the subscription to 12s 6d or 62 new pence. In 1933 the club moved from Church Road, Blackrock to Maryville for which an annual rent of 18 pounds was paid for the season. This amount had to be supplemented in 1937 by sub letting the field to Constitution Ladies Club for 7 pounds and 10 shillings. 1938 saw a move to Dolphin, and a separate Ladies section was formed with the Men’s section promising to give them all the help they wanted.
The men’s section were successful in the early years winning the league and Doyle Cup in 1937 and in 1938 they won the Charity Cup, Civil Service Cup and the Cobh six a side and were unlucky to lose the Irish Senior Cup Final to Railway Union by one goal. The Junior team won the South Munster League and the Sunday league that year.
1940 saw the fading away of the ladies section, but the Senior men won the South Munster league and in 1944 the Junior team won their league. In 1947, a move to the field behind Barry’s pub in Douglas seems to have brought good luck to our Senior men who won the South Munster League in 1949, 50, 51, 52 and 57 and also the Charity Cup in 1951. The Junior men won their league in 1957. Things began to slide and it was reported at the 1962 AGM that the past season was “About the worst in the history of the club”
With ups and downs over the earlier decades of the club, land was purchased at Farmers Cross in 1962 from Dick Young for £900. This was the catalyst for a new dawn for the club. The first “changing rooms” were the back of Dales van, which was replaced by a more permanent “hut” in 1966. This year also saw the return of the ladies section, thanks to the commitment of Cyril Daunt, Carmel Byrne (Peare) and Sylvia Morris (Gash) who were among the first members.
The club added a cricket section in 1967 and in September 1970 the Lord Mayor of Cork opened the new club pavilion. This consisted of a bar (the present men’s changing room) and two changing rooms (the women’s changing room).
In 1972 Harlequins became the first club in Munster to put down a new playing pitch, the first “grit” playing surface in the Republic of Ireland. More land was purchased from club funds and car parking and the pavilion was extended to include two new dressing rooms, a function hall (1978) and a kitchen (1981). It was also at this time that a new meeting room was added and the pitch got flood lighting.
The grit pitch was converted into a sand based astroturf surface in 1987, the second of its kind in the Republic.
The table tennis section was founded in 1972. Harlequins also fielded, at various times, soccer, rugby union and lawn tennis teams during this decade.
In the 1980s and 1990s more land was purchased from Murphys Caravan Park and from the Rolf family to increase the size of the facility. A second astroturf pitch was constructed in 1998, the financial burden of the construction was considerable (approx 750,000).
The first astroturf pitch fell into disrepair and was used as a car park for a period of time. Great efforts were made however by the club to bring this pitch back to its full glory. With a grant of 135,000 and the help of fantastic fundraising by the club and its members, the club now boasts a resurfaced pitch which was finished in Summer 2016. With two functioning hockey pitches, one of the best cricket facilities in Munster, Cork Harlequins is entering a growth cycle with thriving youth sections particularly in the hockey section.
In 2018 the club received a grant from the County Council to refurbish their kitchen which was completed in February 2019 and in 2019 the club received another County Council grant to clean the second pitch adding new life and longevity to the surface.
Cork Harlequins Club plays a major role in many people’s lives. It is the hope of all that our great club continues for generations to come so that many more can enjoy the camaraderie and friendships built up in Cork Harlequins.
See our past Presidents and Chairman board here
Honorary Life Members
See our Honorary Life Members board here
See our international honours board here
See our club honours board here