Cashel Lions Club
The Cashel Lions Club celebrated their Silver Jubilee recently. It was a proud moment for the members who could look back with a certain amount of pride in their service to the Cashel community over twenty-five years.
'We Serve' is the motto of the organisation and service to the community is at, the heart of all Lion activity. This service has taken different forms through the years and in the Silver Jubilee year of the club it is predominantly concerned with the senior citizens of the community.
When the Cashel Club was formed in 1961 it was the fourth club to come into existence in Ireland. The first had been Dublin in 1955 and it was followed by Cork in 1958 and Belfast a year later. Lions Intemational, the oganisation of which Cashel became a member, was founded in the U.S. in 1917 when a group of hitherto independent clubs responded to an ideal laid before them by a young insurance man, Melvin Jones. The ideal was one of service as a group to their fellow men without regard to politics, religion, race or, in any way, the personal interests of the members.
The Cashel Club was founded by Cork and the Cork connection came through Surgeon Tim Noonan, who had become, surgeon in the County Hospital, Cashel. Another Cork connection was Dr. John Osborne whose cousin, Jim Lannen, was a Cork Lion. Preliminary work on the formation of the club began in September 1960 and the club was finally organised on January 23, 1961. The presentation of the Club Charter was made two weeks later at a function in Cahir House Hotel.
The function was held in Cahir House Hotel because there was no hotel in Cashel to house the event. Charter dinners continued to be held at Cahir House Hotel up to and including 1969. The Cashel Kings Hotel opened in July 1969 and it became the venue from 1970 to 1981 inclusive, with the exception of 1976, when the venue was Grants Castle Hotel, which has also been the venue since 1981.
At that first function in Cahir House on February 6, 1961 the Club had eighteen members. Tim Noonan was President, Des Kennedy of Tipperary was Secretary and Larry Nugent was Treasurer. The other members were John L. Buckley, Patrick Darmody, Michael J. Davern, Owen B. Davern, Frank Dwyer, John Fahey, Bill Ganon, Tom Kennedy, Leo MacNamara, Dermot O'Brien, Jack Joe O'Connor, Patrick O'Connor, John Rogers, Willie Ryan and John Osborne. The latter two are still members. Ten of the group are dead, two no longer reside in the town and four dropped out along the way. In all there have been members over the 25 years and the present membership stands at twenty-five.
As well as serving the people in the community a Lions Club has the obligation to spread the message of Lionism by founding new clubs. The Cashel Club has founded four clubs since its own foundation. The first of these was Thurles in 1964. Waterford followed in 1966 and Clonmel a year later. There was long wait until 1985 for the fourth. In June of that year Cahir Club was founded and it gave particular pleasure to the members. As a result of these foundations. other clubs came into existence and the Cashel Club can claim responsibility for the ancenstry of no fewer than thirty-one clubs altogether.
The services provided to the community by the Cashel Club have changed down the years. At the moment there is a lot of attention to our senior citizens. There are three main areas of club involvement with this group, the holiday scheme, under which the club gives a week's holiday annually to a number of men and women in the town, the senior citizens party, which is held in the Spring and to which all the senior citizens in the town are invited and the birthday scheme, under which members of the club visit senior citizens living alone on their birthdays, bringing a small present and discovering something of their needs, if any.
If one returns to the early years similar attention was paid to the residents of St. Philomena's Orphanage in Dundrum. Senior Cltizens were not forgotten then either and used to be taken on outings to the sea. Another big early project was the building of a swimming pool in the town. This occupied the minds of the members for a long time and was eventually shelved with the oil crisis of 1974. For a number of years after that the club subsidised the transport of children to neighbouring pools.
This year will see the completion of a £100,000 sports complex in Larkspur Park. The building will include badminton, and squash courts, showers and toilets, meeting and recreation rooms. The completion will be a landmark in the development of Larkspur Park and a major advance on the Nissan hut that was erected there in the sixties. It will also be a fitting tribute to the perseverance and dedication over twenty years of a large number of Lions and members of the Larkspur Park Development Committee.
The story of Larkspur Park began in the mid-sixties when the Cashel Lions were looking for a project that would bring lasting benefit to the town and community. Such a project would also engage the members of the club in a high degree of activity over a long period of time. Finally it would be permanent monument to the existence of the club and its service to the community.
The Lions purchased a piece of land opposite Our Lady's Hospital in 1965 as a result of a generous donation from American Ambassador, Raymond Guest. who had horses in training at Vincent O'Briens. The contact with the Ambassador was made through Dermot O'Brien, who was a member of the Club. ln appreciation of the donation the park was named after the Ambassadors horse, Larkspur, which won the Epsom derby in 1962.
Development of the Park got underway and a pitch and putt course was laid out. The now familiar Nissan hut was purchased as a pavilion. Later tennis courts were constructed. The Larkspur Park Development Committee was set up and it has organised the development of the park since. It consists of Lions and other interested parties. As time passed the Lions were content to give the committee its head so that today, while still retaining overall control, the Lions are content to play a back seat role.
The original idea in purchasing the field was to develop recreational facilities for the people of Cashel and District. Over twenty years these facilities have been developed to their present impressive state. The. Lions continued interest in. the place is to ensure that its original idea is realised to the fullest possible extent.
The club's activities extend beyond the local level. From an early stage the members were involved in many Third World projects. In the late sixties Tom Kennedy started collecting drugs and spectacles for the Third World. When Seamus King was Zone Chairman in 1974-75 he organised neighbouring clubs to fund the sending of an agrcultural graduate, John Devane from Boherlahan to Bangladesh for a year. The T.J. Noonan Memorial Fund helps to finance the cost of sending 4th year medical students from U.C.C. to Third World countries for the summer. The Cashel Club-also pays into the Lions Clubs International Foundation, which is an emergency fund existing for the relief of disaster in the world. Eye Camps, for the relief of blindness caused by malnutrition, are supported in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. One of the most dramatic demonstrations of this commitment to the Third World happened in 1980 when the then President of the club, Dr. Pat Donohue, went to Kampuchea for six months to work as a medical officer with the people of the country.
Post Advertiser, April 5 1986, Vol 1 No 17