Some history regarding Limerick Lawn

This section intends to provide insights and gather artifacts regarding Limerick Lawn Tennis Club history. This is by no means comprehensive and you are more than welcome to contribute if you can.

Many thanks to Tony O'Donoghue - Limerick Lawn Tennis Club - for his contribution. 


Founded in 1877. Limerick Lawn Tennis Club is home to the historic South of Ireland Senior, Junior and Veterans Tennis Championships. Nostalgically referred to as the "County", Limerick Lawn is one of the oldest sporting institutions in the country and the oldest tennis club in Ireland and UK

2006 investment in club facilities has brought a city sporting stronghold up to 21st century sports and leisure standards with 12 floodlit Tennis Courts, 3 championship Squash Courts, Gymnasium, Bar & Lounge. See Facilities section for more details.

Limerick Lawn Tennis Club membership now stands at around 700 and new members are warmly welcomed. See Membership section for more details on Membership options and how to apply..


The first Open championships in Ireland took place in August 1877, the same year as the first All-England championships of Wimbledon.

The event was not held in Dublin but at the Limerick Lawn Tennis Clubputting Limerick in a premier position on the tennis map predating Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club by two years.

Although there are no documented results, the Limerick Chronicle of August 4th 1877 reports the the tournament had been successful to the highest degree with an unprecedented number of entries of both ladies and gentlemen.

The announcement of our first tournament gave the following list of events; Gentlemen's Open Singles, Gentlemen's Handicap Doubles, Gentlemen's Open Doubles and Ladies Open Singles. It is interesting to note that from the outset, the tournament included a Ladies Open Singles, this event was not part of Wimbledon's fixture until 1884.

Therefore the South of Ireland is second only to Wimbledon for its Men's Singles Open Championship but the the oldest ladies event in Britain and Ireland. 


The results of the 1878 tournament was as follows:
  • Gentlemen's Singles Winner - Vere Goold (see article on Vere Goold further down this page)
  • Ladies Singles Winner - Miss Smith
  • Gentlemen's Doubles - Vere Goold and H F Considine
  • Ladies and Gentlemen's Doubles - H F Considine and Miss Considine
A Veteran's Singles Championship was added to the Open in 1879.


In 1880 several rules changed, the hand stitched ball was replaced by the Ayres ball, the net was lowered to 4ft at the post. The service line was brought in a distance of 21 feet from the net. A service ball touching the net was deemed to be a let and a player was forbidden to volley until it had crossed the net.
The Ladies Singles was won by Miss Smith in 1880 and 1882.


The tournament of 1881 was probably the most successful. Among the entries that year was a William Renshaw, the Wimbledon champion, who played the gentlemen's doubles with his twin brother Ernest. Between them they dominated tennis through the eighties. William was Wimbledon champion from 1881 to 1886 and again in 1889 and he won the Irish Open title in 1880, '81 and '82. His Brother Ernest was Irish Champion in 1883, '87, '88, '92 and he won Wimbledon title in 1888. In 1882 and 1883 the Renshaw twin brothers contested the Wimbledon Singles final, and again in 1889, each time William being the victor.


The highlight of the 1885 tournament was the performance of WJ Hamilton, apart from his tennis prowess he also won an International cap for soccer and cricket. Because of his frail appearance, he was known as the ghost and he won the Irish title in 1889 breaking the dominance of the English players, notably the Renshaw Brothers. 

Hamilton won the Gentlemen's Singles title at the 1890 Wimbledon Championships, defeating William Renshaw in five sets, and becoming the first Irish player to win the tournament. The previous year, he had won both the North England Championships and the Irish Championships. In the latter tournament he defeated the six time Wimbledon champion William Renshaw in the in the all-comers final and then went on to defeat his brother Ernest Renshaw in the challenge round. This made him one of the favorites for the 1889 Wimbledon title but he suffered a five set defeat in the semifinal against Harry Barlow. For the span 1889-90, Hamilton was ranked by many as the best tennis player in the world


The 1886 tournament saw the return of Ladies open singles after a break of two years, WJ Hamilton won the Men's Open Singles and his brother WD Hamilton won the Limerick purse. The Ladies Singles was won by Miss Smith, the same lady who had won in 1880 and 1882.

More to come ....

Sam Barry

Sam Barry was born 27 January 1992 and raised in Limerick.

In 2008, Barry won the under-18 boy's title at the National Junior Tennis Championships and the ITF U-18 boys' singles title in Tallinn, Estonia. As a junior player, he was ranked in the top 100 players in the world U-18 boys' singles

He turned professional in October 2010 and immediately reached the quarter-final of his first tournament, the F29 Futures in Naples. Barry continued to show promise in 2010 with notable wins over Jiri Kosler in the Thalassa Cup, and followed this up in 2011 with the strongest performance on his senior career in the Thailand F2 Futures, reaching the semi-finals and defeating Joshua Milton along the way.

Michael P. Hickey- South of Ireland winner 1975

One of our own Michael dominated Munster tennis for a long period as a player and as a coach. He was also non playing captain of the Irish Davis Cup team. In 1955 at the age of 14 he won his first open tournament in Limerick. He won most of the important tournaments in Munster in the following years. He also won several Dublin tournaments, East of Ireland, Irish Hardcourt, and reached the semi final of the Irish Open. He played in some English tournaments and on the world circuit for number of years. He played Wimbledon in 1958, 1966, 1969 and has played against five Wimbledon Champions Rod Laver, Stan Smith, Bjorn Borg, Jan Drobny and Vic Seixas. He played for Munster on 12 occasions from 1958 to 197 and represented Ireland in Davis Cup on 21 occasions, some record! He was probably known more as a coach and was very much in demand in Munster. He has coached some of the Munster and Ireland most prominent players  namely Sean Sorenson and Robin Gibney. Many of our seniors will remember him as he coached them in their early years. The results of the Irish Davis Cup and King Cup team owe a lot to his coaching, advice and general captaincy. . 

Ross Matheson- South of Ireland winner 1992-1994

When Ross came to Limerick in the early 1990's his first attempt ended in the semi final but he at once felt at home in Limerick Lawn  and promised to return. True to his promise he traveled again on several occasions. He retired in 1999 to take up a post as Director of the next Generation Club in Leith Edinburgh. In 1994 he was ranked No.1 in Scotland and 241 in the world. He won the Bristol Challenge that year.  Ross was nicknamed Roscoe because of his heavy serving which was reminiscent of Roscoe Tanner. Ross spent a year coaching in the David LLyod camp in Renfrew. He returned to the Circuit in 1997 and improved - revived - his ranking from 959 to 539, but the offer of the job became too good to resist.  However in April 1999 Ross once again produced his best in winning the Scottish Indoor Championship. Who will forget his South of Ireland final with Owen Casey when rain stopped that day. After a brief delay they both returned to play wonderful tennis in a thrilling third set. Ross was always one to enter into the spirit of the tournament  He encouraged a lot of the "C" players after their games and he played with the juniors during the day. When he was asked he always teamed up for doubles. On his last visit he played with David Leahy and reached the final. 

Vere Thomas St. Leger Goold.

At the 2011 tournament, Limerick’s Conor Niland became the first Irishman to feature at Wimbledon since Sean Sorensen in 1977. A century earlier, however, we had a tennis player competing in the final at the All England club.

Clonmel County Tipperary-born Vere Thomas St. Leger Goold was one match away from becoming the third ever Wimbledon champion when he lost out to John Hartley in 1879. He won the 3rd edition of the South of Ireland Men's Singles and Doubles in 1878. Unfortunately, his remarkable life took a turn for the worse in 1908 when he was convicted of murder in Monte Carlo and shipped to Devil’s Island, where he committed suicide a year later.

His name still lives on in infamy in Wimbledon as the only finalist to be convicted of murder at a time when the game of tennis was at its peak in Ireland.

1879 Limerick County Lawn Tennis 
Club Grand Lawn Tennis Tournament
3rd Open Championship at Limerick Lawn Tennis Club, 
predecessor of present South of Ireland Championship  
(Click on document to zoom)

BNP Paribas National Tennis Academy Senior Squad

Michael P. Hickey - Winner South of Ireland 1975

Ross Matheson - 1994 No 1 in Scotland - 241 in the world
Winner South of Ireland 1992-1994

First known Men's Single winner of the South of Ireland (1878)