Ahead of his induction into the PPUI Hall of Fame on Saturday, former Hall of Fame recipient himself John Manning profiles the 2017 inductee Old County Pitch & Putt Club Secretary Jim Byrne.
Back in the mid-1960s, little did Jim Byrne think that his Sunday morning Pint and Pitch & Putt would lead to PPUI Hall of Fame honours more than five decades later.
Jim Byrne and his pals initially played Pitch & Putt at three different locations in Tallaght – at the Cuckoo’s Nest (Greenhills Road), Spawell and Ferndale, which was off the Greenhills Road. They would convene at the County Bar on Old County Road and make the three-mile trip to that Sunday’s course of choice. How much delight they took in playing each week, come hail, rain, shine or snow! The fun they enjoyed led to a lifelong bond. Word quickly spread and with more like minded souls seeking to participate a club of their own was the logical next step.
A meeting in the County Bar on 10th October 1966 formally brought Old County Pitch and Putt club into being. Jim Byrne sat on the first Committee. In 1967, the fledgling club contacted the GAA about the latter’s Pitch & Putt course at the hurling pitch in Crumlin. Old County absorbed Lorcan O’Toole Pitch & Putt club and a renowned setting for our sport was born in the nation’s capital.
Jim’s older brother Albert (RIP) and younger sibling Michael (RIP) were also members. Jim’s nephew CJ Byrne was the first juvenile member of Old County. A keen photographer in his younger days, Jim captured many of the memorable moments of the club’s history. He took the revered photo of the presentation of the Invite Cup to Old County by early sponsors Leo Laboratories.
One couldn’t possibly guess the number of times Jim made the half a mile journey from his home on Cashel Road to Old County Pitch & Putt club. What one can be sure of is the great care and attention he brought to all his roles when he got there. Jim has been Club Secretary since 1976 – a continuous stretch of 41 years. But he served in many other capacities and invariably the club tasted concurrent success. He was Club Treasurer between 1967 and 1972. The 1971 intermediates provided Old County’s first Dublin League triumph.
Des Parsons was Dublin Gents Inter Strokeplay champion during Jim’s term as Old County President (1973-74). Jim Byrne’s reign as Club Captain in 1990 coincided with Dublin and Leinster Juvenile Strokeplay championships coming to Crumlin. The Gents Senior team were Dublin League champions. Jim’s unwavering diligence, loyalty and accuracy was recognised when he was named Old County’s Club Person the Year in 1984.
Jim Byrne collaborated with current PPUI General Secretary Michael Murphy on Old County’s 21st anniversary souvenir book in 1987. In the early days of personal computers, the pair worked on an old Commodore 64! It was also in 1987 that Jim presented the immortal motion “Put it in writing!” to Old County’s Annual General Meeting. So steeped in Old County lore did the memorable phrase become that the club’s 50th anniversary book carries that title. And Jim was present at the “Put it in Writing” launch on 15 September 2016. He and soccer legend Niall Quinn sampled a cake, iced with that famous expression!
Jim Byrne’s finest hour arrived in the wake of Old County being served with an Eviction notice in 1995. The Dublin GAA Board were constructing a boundary wall near the 2nd tee box. Old County thought they had reached agreement with their landlords and the notice to quit was a real shock. Recourse to legal action was the club’s only option.
During the High Court proceedings, Judge Carroll praised Jim Byrne for the meticulous records he had maintained, which were central to Old County achieving their desired verdict. A 99-year sporting lease was signed with the GAA in 1997. Current and future generations of Old County members owe Jim Byrne a huge debt of gratitude.
Jim received a Special Award from his club colleagues at Old County’s 40th anniversary dinner dance, held at DCBS in October 2006. He now joins Christy Broe as a fellow Old County Hall of Fame inductee. The pair soldiered together on Committee for many years in the 1970s/80s. Having recuperated well after a period of hospitalisation in 2011/12 Jim continues his secretarial duties and fronts the GAA/Legal/Crumlin Sub Committee.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2016, two proud and emotional men cut the Old County 50th anniversary cake. Jim Byrne and fellow founding member Jim Grace (who was returning to the club after many years) reminisced about their old 1960s comrades – like Christy ‘Bossy’ Phelan, Joe Fox, John Rogers, Albert Byrne, Sean Tyre and Michael Byrne.
There is little Jim wouldn’t — or doesn’t — turn his hand to if it is needed. At the 50th Anniversary dance in Louis Fitzgerald Hotel on 1 October 2016, Jim presented a special piece of silverware to Anniversary Trophy winner Frank Gallagher. He even managed to source a chain of office for self-styled “Lord Mayor” of Old County, Warner Wilson in the early years. Jim does the ‘simple’ and small things well, and saved the club during its toughest times.
Congratulations to Jim Byrne, who is the tenth Pitch and Putt Union of Ireland Hall of Fame winner to represent a Dublin club.
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