Little Island

There are three islands situated in Cork Harbour east of Cork City. The biggest of the three islands is Cobh where the Titanic and other famous liners sailed from. On the way to Cobh you pass Fota Island and between Fota and Cork City is the island of Little Island where a unique and wonderful golf course is located.

Nowadays the three islands are reachable by road but like Valentia Island in Kerry they continue to have the peaceful and serene island feeling.

The golf course at Little Island came about when a few Cork businessmen were sailing their yacht down the river Lee from Cork to Crosshaven when they spotted on their left hand (port!) side the limestone quarries at Little Island. This land is situated 5 or 6 miles downriver from the city. They thought that the land might make an ideal site for a golf course and they were proven to be absolutely right.

View from 4th tee looking downriver towards Fota and Cobh

In the early days many members at Little Island were also members at The Royal Cork Yacht Club which is situated close to the mouth of Cork Harbour at Crosshaven. It used to be said about the members at Little island that it was dangerous to be seen playing golf at Little Island in the summer months in case people might think they didn’t have a yacht!

In those days the limestone land was an active limestone quarry and limestone from the Little Island quarry was used in many famous buildings in Cork and America.

A wonderful golf course was built on the site over 100 years ago, designed largely by Dr Alister Mc Kenzie. The golf course has two distinct parts; The holes that meander between the limestone quarries from the second hole, where the tee shot needs to carry a quarry, to the thirteenth hole which is a short par three, again over another of the limestone quarries.

The other part of the golf course which is called the park is from the fourteenth to the eighteenth and includes the first hole. These holes are built on land that was purchased in more recent times and is more parkland than quarry land.

Naturally because most of the golf course is built on limestone land the drainage is really good, similar to the wonderful links free draining golf courses that we have dotted around the coast of Ireland where sand blown up from the nearby beaches provide sandy grass land with great drainage.

The old bunker/magazine where they used to store explosives when the area was a working quarry can still be seen on the right of the 11th fairway, and as you look from the 11th fairway over the short 9th par three you can see the old now disused limestone quarries in the background.

I love the quietness and the peace of Little Island on a summer or a late autumn evening, and on a lovely calm September evening last week as the darkness was approaching, there was just me and a few sea gulls enjoying the quietness and tranquillity.

As I walked towards the 11th green I passed the Spanish Chestnut tree planted to mark the spot where Sevy’s tee shot finished on his visit to Little Island in 1983. With the Ryder Cup fast approaching I am sure that his memory will again be motivational to both teams as the players do their best to win a tournament that he helped to rejuvenate. Rory Mc Ilroy’s win over the weekend surely gives a great boost to the European team.

Sevy’s Spanish chestnut tree planted almost a third of a century ago now in full bloom.

Photo of the Spanish Chestnut being planted in 1984

Sevy, at Little Island the members and the local people still remember with pride and fondness your visit that day in 1983 and the wonderful exhibition match you had with local golfing hero Liam Higgins. Gone from this life but definitely not forgotten.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

September 2016

The one that got away

For the last 20 years we have held an annual father and son golf outing and over the years we have played many different courses. Last week we played Dingle (Ceann Sibeal) on Thursday and Dooks near Glenbeigh on Friday. Definitely a couple of Irelands golfing gems build on truly wonderful golfing sites and in this part of the golfing world, arguably the best golfing value available.

View of 9th green at Ceann Sibeal Dingle

On the way from Dingle to Dooks I stopped for a walk on Inch Strand which is a wonderful walking beach about 15 miles on the Killarney side of Dingle. Cars can drive on to and park on the beach, which is about a mile long, and a super walk when the tide is out. Across the water from Inch is the village of Glenbeigh on The Ring of Kerry and the wonderful golf links at Dooks.

View of first green at Dooks..yes one ball on the green well done David Russell!

Whilst I walked along Inch Strand my eyes kept looking inland even though there are wonderful views out to sea. The reason my eyes kept wandering is that all the way along the beach there are these most magnicent looking enormous sand dunes that I just know would make the most wonderful site for a links golf course.

View of sand dunes at Inch

I am not the first person to think that and indeed my old friend Dr Arthur Spring from Tralee who sadly departed from us last year had a lifelong ambition to create a true links course on the site. There may be other similar brilliant sites available in Ireland but I have never seen anywhere a site as good as the one alongside Inch Strand.

View of Inch Strand and dunes from Dook’s Golf Club

Arthur Spring was an interesting man and designed many fine golf courses including one at Castlegegory just over The Conor Pass on the Tralee side of Dingle. Arthur was born in Tralee and just loved that part of Kerry.

Arthur was a medical man before he became a golf architect as indeed was the renowned Dr Alister Mac Kenzie the designer of Augusta, and in Ireland, Lahinch ( Tom Morris did the original layout) and Little Island in Cork along with many other famous golf courses around the world.  Like Dr Mc Kenzie, Arthur decided that he too would prefer to spend his time designing golf courses rather than looking after medical ailments.

Arthur was very passionate about the unique site at Inch feeling that it could be turned into a great seaside golf course. He also felt strongly about the tourism benefits that it would bring to the area.

Unfortunately for Arthur planning permission for building golf courses came in just after he became involved in its design. The need for permission as far as I remember came in around 1995 and ultimately he never did get approval. There were objections in relation to the protection of the wild life on the dunes similar to Doonbeg and perhaps like the Old Head of Kinsale there were some right of way problems involved. Planning permission was always required for a club house, but back then the planners felt that a golf course protected the wild life rather than interfering with it.

And so probably the most magnificent bit of natural golfing terrain, possibly in the world just lies there unused but magnificent.

The next time you are passing Inch Beach on the way to Dingle stop off for a walk on the beach and view the dunes and let me know what you think.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

September 2016

 

The Dingle marathon

We spent last weekend in Dingle where Eamon was doing his second marathon and son-in-law Rossa Mc Mahon was doing the half marathon.

The route for the Dingle marathon is around Slea Head, one of the most spectacular roads in the world with views (on a good day!) of incredible beauty. The run starts in Dingle town and then travels though Ventry past the Bee Hive Huts and on to Dunquin where the half marathon finishes.

Photo of Rossa (1963) legging it past the church near Paudi O Se’s pub in Ventry

On the way the runners, assuming that they have sufficient energy levels, will experience truly magnificent views in the distance of Skellig Michael, and closer to shore, the majestic Blasket Islands. As they leave Dunquin and head for Ballyferriter, Coumeenoole Beach made famous by the film Ryan’s Daughter can be seen below. Yes it is a truly wonderful and historic place.

The runners then go through Ballyferriter up quite a severe climb at about mile 21 which takes them to a straight gentle downward straight stretch of at least a mile in length. This bit of straight road is also demanding and daunting and must seem never ending to the majority of the, by now, totally exhausted marathon runners. Then it’s over the bridge and into Dingle Town to the finish line.

Never have I seen so many runners so happy just to finish, whatever about the time they did. Glad to be finished and looking forward to some well-earned food and a few drinks in the splendid restaurants and pubs that make Dingle so loved by visitors from all around the world.

Photo of Eamon enjoying the last 100 yards with his family, so pleased to have them with him at the finish and so so pleased to have done it.

Verdict

By all accounts it is one of the toughest marathons with two severe climbs and all along the route the runners are exposed to the winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean. For the runners, it is a unique and wonderful place to be allowed to run with the road closed from the time the run starts at 9am to 3 pm to allow the runners a safe road to run on.

If I have a gripe it would be that the spectators like me who are trying to give support and encouragement and liquid and other refreshments to the runners, that we found it difficult to get to suitable vantage points.

The evening before the marathon Eamon and I did a bit of cross country reconnoitering to try to find a few spots we could access along the way. The road was closing at 8:45am on the morning of the marathon so we would have to leave Dingle before then. The first spot we selected was just past the church in Ventry pear Paudi O Se’s pub which is about 6 miles along the way.

Then we went cross country to Dunquin which was a very important spot as it was just past mile 13 where the half marathon finished and we wanted to see Rossa and the other half marathon runners finishing there. From Dunquin we travelled to Ballyferriter about mile 18 where Eamon reckoned he would need some gels and more water and maybe some food even though he knew there would be plenty of water spots along the way. From there we would then make our way back to the finish in Dingle.

The morning of the race however proved problematical as despite confirmation beforehand that the back road to Dunquin would be accessible, the organisers had in fact blocked the road some two miles from Dunquin so we had to go directly to Ballyferriter and so we missed the finish of the half marathon which was very disappointing and had to wait a long time in Ballyferriter before the marathon runners eventually reached us.

My suggestion to the organisers is that more consideration should be given to accommodate the families and supporters of the runners as the runners really need all the help and encouragement they can get, to help them complete this most wonderful but very demanding of marathons.

When entries are made clear instructions should be given to the runners as to where and when the supporters can get to certain spots to be close to the runners along the way. The obvious places would appear to be Ventry, Dunquin and Ballyferriter and this could all be done cross country so that the main road can remain closed for the safety of the runners.

In fact as the majority of runners were doing the half marathon only, the road from Dunquin onwards and back to Dingle could probably be opened with cars and the buses bringing the half marathon runners back to Dingle, allowed on one side of the road, and the runners on the other.

 Ted Dwyer Family Business 

September 2016

One down one to go!

Some time ago I wrote a little rant against the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s decision to impose a pension levy on the prudent people of Ireland who were saving money into their pension plans to provide income for their retirement. I called it “daylight robbery” see blog post 26th of Feb 2014.

Thankfully eventually that disgraceful appalling tax/levy was removed. That tax was wrong and should never have been imposed. It should be repaid in full.

Today’s rant is I think just as important and hopefully with your help, it too will have a successful outcome.

As a parent of four children, now thankfully grown up I listened with alarm on the radio to the debate as to whether loans should be readily available to college students to enable them to borrow long term to pay for their college education. Perhaps as a last resort it is better for them to be able borrow for fees, rather then not going to college at all.

There could be and should be however, for most people a much better solution, and again I am appealing to the Minister for Finance to do something positive to help parents and perhaps grandparents to save money on a regular basis to fund future college fees for their children or grandchildren.

The way it was

When I started in business 45 years ago if we did a savings plan in Ireland we received tax relief on the premiums paid. When the savings plan was encashed, the proceeds were paid out without tax, even though a small amount of tax was deducted as the profits accumulated year by year within the savings plan. I think that the tax deducted was at a rate of 23% on the profits. The tax relief on the money invested offset most of that small taxation figure.

The way it is now

Today it is very different. No tax relief on the amount of money being saved on a regular basis. Instead a levy of 1% is charged on each payment made.

The money being paid out is no longer tax paid. The profits instead are taxed at the staggeringly high rate of 41%. Not good enough Mr Noonan!

Today Mr and Mrs Prudent Parent of say a one year old child decide that they want to save some money each month into a college fee savings fund for their child to go to college aged 19.They want to create a college fee fund of €50,000 at that time which they feel would cover most of what the costs might be.

By investing their money each month in line with their attitude to risk which is average and taking into account the long term nature of the investment i.e. 18 years, it was agreed that a net return of around 4% whilst not guaranteed might be feasible.

To achieve a fund of €50,000 in 18 years and getting an average net return of 4%pa requires a monthly investment of just €158.43 per month. They were absolutely delighted as they felt it was quite affordable and, that when and if, baby number two came along they might be able to do something similar.

Then I had to tell them some nasty bad news compliments of the same Minister for Finance Mr Michael Noonan.

And so I had to explain to Mr and Mrs Prudent parents that they would have to pay a 1% tax on everything they invested. They were taken aback. I then had to explain that there would also be a tax payable on any profits their savings plan generated at a current rate of 41%.

As per the above example the amount paid in would be €34,220 and the final estimated fund is €50,000, so profits of €15,780 would be generated, which would then be taxed at the current rate of 41%. The tax deducted would be €6,470 (tax is deducted every 8 years and on maturity).

Surely this is just plain stupid. Ireland is already a highly taxed economy and before most people invest money into a savings plan they have already paid tax on their incomes at the standard rate tax of 20% or in many cases at the higher rate of 40%.

Suggestion

My suggestion/proposal to the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is that in the upcoming budget of 2016 is that he gives some positive news for a change to parents who are really struggling to fund their children’s college education. My proposal is that he should create a new type of savings plan whereby any money saved for the payment of college fees will, from this budget on, be totally free of the government levy of 1% and the current draconian exit tax on profits of 41%.

Come on Minister do something positive to help our young people to a higher level of education so that borrowing to fund college fees doesn’t become the only option for our college students.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

August 2016

Southern Lake Hotel revisited

From time to time I like to see how many people read particular blogs that I post. The information available is interesting and as of today the number of reads on my blogs has been 19,896 from 12,385 visitors from countries all over the world.

The most read blog was the one I posted in September 2015 titled The Southern lake Hotel and interestingly this is the blog post that is still been read the most often by visitors to my blog site.

As it is nearly a year since I posted it I have decided to post it again with one additional photo which shows the work in progress on the new Hogs Head Golf Club with John A Mulcahy’s former Waterville home in the background.

 

The Southern Lake Hotel in Waterville

Listening to Radio Kerry on Monday whilst driving back to Cork I heard that a planning application is about to go in to Kerry County Council to knock the existing Waterville Lake Hotel and build a much smaller 32 bedroomed hotel in its place.

It was in the early 1970’s that John A Mulcahy bought the old but beautiful Southern Lake Hotel (see above photo) on the shores of the famous Waterville Lake. He knocked that lovely old hotel which was probably a bit traumatic for the Waterville people and built the much bigger and probably more luxurious Waterville Lake Hotel on the site. Let’s hope the new hotel will look as good as the one that was originally on that wonderful lakeside site.

The Skellig Bay Golf course across the road from the hotel was also purchased by the new owners and will open again after some improvements have been made. It will be known as Hogs Head Golf Club after the area where it is located, when it reopens in 2017. The golf course has super views of the ocean and Waterville Lake.

Work in progress on the new golf course.

John A Mulcahy also bought the old nine hole Waterville Golf Club and built the world renowned Waterville Golf Links. The course which was designed by Eddie Hackett, is in a wonderful location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Ballinskelligs Bay.

When John A Mulcahy was in residence at Waterville House which is the house situated on the bank of the river where Waterville’s famous system of fishing lakes overflow to the sea, there were always famous golfers visiting and staying with him. Sam Snead was probably the first famous golfer to visit and then followed Tiger Woods, Mark O Meara and the late Payne Stewart who were all regular visitors who used to get some links practice at Waterville and Ballybunion in on their way to The British Open.

John A as he was affectionately known, normally dined in the Hotel in the evening at his own special table and always wore a splendid green jacket. At that time for men, jackets were obligatory when dining at the hotel in the evening. On one occasion Tony Jacklin the winner of the British and American Open Championships, during one of the Pro-Ams, arrived for dinner casually dressed in a pullover and was gently turned away. He came back a few minutes later in an ill-fitting jacket he had borrowed in haste from someone!

We had an unusual experience while playing in that Pro-Am of 1985. The City Life team was Dermot O Mahoney, Donal Higgins and myself. Ted Higgins, Donal’s brother, the pro at Ballybunion at that time was our Professional.

We actually won the Pro-Am that year beating a team that included the actor Telly Savalas better known as Kojac, film star Hal Linden and also on the team was Sydney Chaplain a nephew of the famous Charley Chaplain into second place. As our prize of a set of irons was deemed to exceed the value of the amateur limit we were threatened with the loss of our amateur status and being reported to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. This of course made the sports headlines in our local paper.

Eventually to resolve the issue we gave the prizes back to the tournament organiser to satisfy Dick Barry the pompous Honorary Secretary of the Munster Branch. Frankly we didn’t care about the prizes as we were just happy to win a wonderful tournament on a magnificent golf course. Happy to have beaten Kojac and his film star buddies!

My relationship with the Hon Sec Mr Barry was however slightly strained thereafter!

Another landmark hotel on The Ring of Kerry that has also recently changed hands is The Derrynane Hotel and it will be interesting to see whether it too will be knocked or refurbished. (Picture below taken during the severe storm of January 2014).

The Derrynane Hotel was built in 1982, on a wonderful site overlooking the Kenmare River with breath-taking views in the background of the Beara Peninsula in beautiful West Cork.

The hotel and eight holiday cottages on site were recently sold by the receiver for The Bank of Ireland. The hotel is on a magnificent site perched on rocks by the sea and just a few miles from the village of Caherdaniel and Derrynane’s famous beaches.

These two hotels of Waterville and Derrynane and indeed many other hotels in Ireland have been sold in recent times as a result of borrowings that were too high and the challenging economic times we have just gone through.

I would like to think that these sales and the influx of new monies into the hotel sector must auger well for the very important Irish Tourism Industry. Certainly the promotion of the concept of The Wild Atlantic Way has seen an incredible increase in the number of tourists driving, walking or cycling around the West Coast of Ireland.

Talk to Kerry people right now though, and their total focus is not on the tourist season, no, it has turned sharply towards the upcoming all Ireland final especially since their arch rivals Dublin beat Mayo to become their opponents.

They still remember in Kerry and haven’t really forgiven the slogan that some nasty Dublin people coined in the build up to previous all Ireland finals between the two counties “Kerry for the holidays but Dublin for The Sam Maguire”!

Ted Dwyer Family Business

September 2015

 

 

The 500th Birthday

My sister Fifi has been wonderful over the years in organising little family gatherings around the time of our individual birthdays.

As there are seven of us in our family it takes a lot of organising and we are all really grateful as it has helped to keep us in touch with one another. Thanks Fifi.

Earlier this year I decided to count the number of birthdays we have had collectively and I calculated that we had enjoyed over 495 and just to make sure I checked with Martin the young brother in France who was always good at counting. He confirmed that I was nearly right and that when George had his next birthday this year, which is in fact today, we would indeed have managed 500 birthdays between us. Happy birthday George.

Last week Fifi and our oldest (and dearest) sister Deirdre arranged a splendid gathering of all of us to celebrate the occasion and thankfully we were all able to make it. Thanks Martin in particular for making the trip from France.

In a mad moment after a few glasses of wine I said that I would look after the entire cost of our next major reunion to celebrate the occasion of our 1000 birthdays which will be in 71 years’ time!!! Bring it on!

We took a little photo of us on the night in the same positions as in a photo taken over 60 years ago. Yes I suppose we have changed a little!

 

Ted Dwyer Family Business

August 9th 2016

Always try to make the connection

I mentioned in a recent blog that we had visited the Greek island of Samos for the wedding of our son Owen to Marina. Her Dad Manny was born in the tiny village of Stavrinides which is situated in vineyard country, high up in the mountains of Samos. As a young fellow he immigrated to a new life in Sydney. The trip up the mountain was a pretty scary one as the road was narrow and twisty. It was however an exciting drive up the hairpin bends in our little hired car.

We stayed in the Armonia Bay Hotel on the coast which is a lovely little friendly, family run hotel, owned by the Mantoglou family with gorgeous views over the sea.

View from Armonia Bay Hotel

Why I mention the hotel is that one morning over breakfast Mary overheard an American, who was staying at the hotel, talking to another guest about the wonderful friendliness and warmth of the Greek people he had encountered. He went on to say that he found the same welcome from Irish people when he had visited Ireland. Mary was delighted to hear this as we also had felt that the Greek people were the friendliest people we had met anywhere.

When we were leaving the table Mary said to the man that we were from Ireland and that she enjoyed his comments. In that case he said “it probably tips the balance in favour of the Irish”! We left breakfast with a smile on our faces!

On the way back to our room we said that in future when we met visitors to Ireland we would go out of our way to be friendly and welcoming to them.

Last week we were in Kerry for a few days and were walking the beach in Derrynane. Walking just in front of us I noticed a man walking with a few friends and instinctively I felt that he was Greek. He was tall and handsome with a big shock of white curly hair.

As he was with a few other people I didn’t want to just go over and interrupt him to talk with him but I said to Mary as we walked on, I just know he is from Greece and he probably is from Samos and could easily in fact be from the mountain village of Stavrinides where The Greek Wedding took place.

As always my good lady scoffed as my imagination took off and we continued to enjoy our walk in the Kerry mist and recall the incredible wonderful sunshine we had experienced on the beaches of Samos. My mind however was still talking to me!

As we finished our walk and were returning to our car the man from Greece just happened to be sitting on the slipway down to the beach near the lifeguard’s hut and gave us a big smile as we approached.

Well that was too much for me and I stopped to chat with him, yes to say hallo but mostly to satisfy my curiosity as to his origin!

I said “Hi” and asked him were they enjoying their holiday and he said yes it was their first time in Ireland and that they were doing The Wild Atlantic Way and loving every moment of it.

I then asked them where they came from even though I was slightly disappointed when I heard that he spoke with what was definitely a New Zealand accent. He said that he was living in New Zealand and in fact his wife was born there but being a rugby fan he always wanted to visit the home of Munster Rugby. I asked him was he born in New Zealand too and he replied that no in fact he was born in Greece!

I knew it!!!

I replied with eagerness and asked; were you born on the mainland or on one of the Greek Islands? He said with a smile and rather proudly I thought. He said “I was born on the Island of Samos a small island not far from the coast of Turkey!”

This was truly astonishing and he could see the fascination on my face as I explained with excitement that we had just returned from a wedding on his island.

When we were on Samos for Owen and Marina’s wedding we visited three tiny mountain villages during our time there. The first was Stavrinides where the Greek Wedding took place. The next day we went to the village of Manolates the one we could see across the mountain from the Greek wedding and where they were able to hear the music from the wedding as it wafted across the thin mountain air. The third mountain village that we made a visit to a few days later was called Vourliotes. Another lovely mountain village with stunning views.

 

Photo from Stavrinides with Turkey in the background

The man from Greece could see my interest and said that although he was born in Samos he was very young when his parents immigrated to New Zealand with him and his two brothers, to try to make a better living for themselves in New Zealand as the economy in Samos at that time was not doing very well. He said that whilst he loved New Zealand he still missed his own little Island.

I pried a bit further and asked him on what part of the Island he was born. He said with a smile that he was born in a tiny mountain village that we would never have heard of. Quick as a flash I said “was it Stavrinides”? “No” he said quizzically but he was surprised that I knew it and said “but you are very close”. Manolates I asked? “No” he said “amazed, “in fact I was born in the next village which is called Vourliotes”.

When I told him that we knew it and had visited it he was a bit overcome and I could see a tear forming in his eye as we talked about the square where we enjoyed a fresh orange juice in the midday sun and where we had picked up a local lady at the bottom of the mountain and given her a lift to up the mountain to her village. When we saw her later coming out of a coffee shop in the village she greeted us like old friends. This lady was also called Mary which was a nice coincidence.

Yes the world is getting smaller and more dangerous but perhaps we can all do our little bit to help by reaching out to visitors to our country that we come across because there is no doubt that the best antidote to violence and anger is friendship and kindness.

Let us all try to make a friendly connection with those we meet.

Ted Dwyer Family Business

July 2015