History

History

The club was founded in 1899 and is situated on the river Lee, in the tranquillity of the Mardyke, nestled between Fitzgerald park and Cork Cricket Club in the heart of Cork City. Through the decades the club has undergone many changes. In the early years Lawn Tennis, Boating, Crown Bowls, Card Playing, Billiards, Fishing and Cricket formed the mainstay of the club’s activities. Today, the main sporting activities include Tennis, Squash and Snooker with social opportunities involving Bridge, Golf, Cycling and Cricket also available to members.

Sunday’s Well continues to have a vibrant membership from juniors to veterans and provides activities and events to cater for all age groups and families. The timeline below recounts some of the milestones from the club’s history. 

CLUB FOUNDED | 1899

Directly across the river Lee from the club lies the Sunday’s Well area, featuring several 19th century homes with sweeping gardens leading down to the river. Boating was a ‘high society’ pastime in the late 19th century and Sunday’s Well became a popular location for this activity. In 1899 following a successful Sunday’s Well regatta and Water Carnival held that July, the Sunday’s Well Boating and Tennis club was formed by several members of the regatta, many of whom were residents of Sunday’s Well.  (Background Image: View of St Vincent’s and Sunday’s Well Area in the early 20th Century)

INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION | 1902

Inspired by the Paris International Exhibition of 1900, the then Lord Mayor of Cork, Edward Fitzgerald, gained enthusiastic support for the idea of staging a similar event in Cork. The club loaned its grounds to the Cork International Exhibition and the present clubhouse was built by the Exhibition Committee for the purpose of hosting visiting dignitaries which included King Edward the VII and Queen Alexandra. (Background Image: Lithograph of the Great Exhibition 1902 in Fitzgerald’s Park)

PAVILLION | 1904

Following the conclusion of the Exhibition, discussion began among members to expand the clubhouse to incorporate Pavilion, Dressing rooms and Snooker room and which was subsequently designed by Robert Walker junior. This pavilion is still in existence today, along with the distinctive weather vane and clock at the apex of the original structure, and which has been augmented over the years with additional facilities such as Gym, changing rooms, viewing deck, offices and meeting rooms. (Background Image: Pavillion in the early 1900s)

FIRST INTERNATIONAL EVENT | 1954

After the Cork Exhibition, Sunday’s Well had, in addition to its magnificent new clubhouse, 5 excellently laid out and perfectly manicured grass courts.  These set in peaceful and beautiful surroundings thus became the pride of the country.  Throughout the summer, the courts were constantly used from morning to night, except on band promenade days, which were held regularly during the summer months in front of the clubhouse. As time passed the club continued to improve and in 1954 it hosted its first international event with a Tennis match between Ireland and Wales. (Background Image: Tennis in the 1920s)

COURTS ADDED | 1962

In 1960, a number of grass courts were converted to tarmacadam to allow for all year-round play and later in November 1962 the Bowling green that had been developed in 1910 was converted to allow two additional tennis courts to be provided.  (Background Image: Bowling in the 1930s)

SQUASH COURTS ADDED | 1971

Two Squash courts were added to the club facilities to cater for the surge in demand for the sport at that time when there were an estimated 500 squash players in Cork. (Background Image: Peter Barry, TD, opening the new Squash Courts, June 10, 1971)

COURTS REVAMPED | 1986

A major revamp of the tennis courts was undertaken to provide 8 fully floodlit ‘Omni turf’ courts which is a fully porous, artificial surface filled with sand and allowing for all year-round tennis from morning until late evening.(Background Image: 1985/86 Committee at the opening of the new courts)

LADIES BECOME FULL MEMBERS | 1994

Full membership of the club was established for ladies, thus ending an era of associate membership only and opening the way for membership of club committees and election as club officers. The first Lady Captain Ms Mary Jane Kenefick was subsequently elected in 1997 and later in 2014 Ms Valerie Noonan was elected the first lady Chairman. (Background Image: First Lady Members of General Committee 1997)

INCORPORATES CORK & COUNTY CLUB | 1995

The Cork & County Club was incorporated into the club in 1995. Established in 1828 the Cork and County club was a gentlemen’s club with facilities for the members for playing cards, billiards, reading newspapers, dining and taking refreshments. The remaining 38 members of this long-established Cork club became members of Sunday’s Well on completion of the merger. (Background Image: The bar, relocated from the Cork and County Club)

CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS | 1999

The club celebrated its Centenary which was marked by a Gala Ball in January of that year for over 400 members and guests. This milestone was further celebrated later that year with a special Centenary tennis tournament with participants dressed in traditional Victorian tennis costume to commemorate the event.   (Background Image: Centenary Tennis Tournament, 1999)

EXTENSION ADDED | 2001-2006

In 2001, the first phase of the improvement and modernisation of the club was undertaken with the relocation of the Bar and completion of the ‘River Room’ extension to Clubhouse. Later in 2003, additional investment in the club was made to further enhance the facilities available to the members with the addition of a Gym, new changing rooms, multi–purpose room and viewing deck. Improvements to the Clubhouse, car park and entrance were also later completed in 2006.   (Background Image: View of the new extension from Court 7)

CLUB FLOODED | 2009

In 2009, the club suffered serious flooding when the Lee burst its banks following heavy rain. Numerous members came to assist with the flood cleanup. (Background Image: Flooded River Room)

PRESENT DAY

Several additional upgrades, improvements and enhancements have been made over the last number of years to ensure the club continues to modernise and maintain its status as one of the best-equipped Tennis and Squash clubs in the country. The club continues to evolve, and through a strong committee structure is continuing to develop new approaches to its competitive and coaching activities at all age levels and grades as well as adding additional social activities for the benefit of the membership.(Background Image: Clubhouse in 2017)