Saturday, 6th August 1892
THE COUNTY LOUTH GOLF CLUB
A club has been started under the above name, and gentlemen who wish to join it are requested to communicate with the acting secretary, G.H. Pentland, Black Hall, Drogheda. The links are on the seashore at Baltray, about three miles from Drogheda, where a course of nine holes has been laid out and is now ready for play. T Smith, green-keeper, Baltray, will point out the course to any gentleman who may wish to inspect it.
Snippet from the Drogheda Argus Newspaper Saturday, 6th August 1892
Standing Left to Right
P. Tallon, G.H Daly, G.W. Frazer, Tom Smith (Greenkeeper)
Seater Left to Right
S.H Searancke, G.H Pentland, R.C Pentland, J.V. Byrne
Baltray (Baile na Tra, Town of the Strand), is on the north side of the Boyne estuary, three miles from Drogheda, on the coast road to Termonfeckin. It is well preserved village with a loose grouping of small houses including a couple with thatched roofs. There is also the public house, fittingly called the “The 19th”.
Thomas Gilroy was born in Dundee, Scotland on 2nd October, 1852 and was one of the earliest pioneers of the game of golf. A retired banker, he came to Ireland in the year 1885 and settled on a beautiful spot in Mornington, County Meath, about four miles from Drogheda, close to the sea and on the mouth of the River Boyne. He set out to foster the game of golf in Ireland and subsequently a course of fourteen holes was set out from the Maiden Tower to his house, Mornington House sometimes called Coney Hall and now the site of Ozanam Holiday Centre.
However, late in 1893 it seems that Mr. Gilroy was having trouble with some local people who did not approve of golf and after a year or so gave up the course on that side of the Boyne and with George Pentland had one laid out on the other side which is now the County Louth Club at Baltray.
Late in 1895 Tom Gilroy accepted the post of Secretary of Seaford Golf Club in East Sussex and the Irish Times of 19th December 1895 regretfully recorded the departure of the Gilroy family to England.
George Henry Pentland, a local landowner was born on 29th May 1849. He was a non-practicing barrister and a distinguished all-round sportsman. He was an accomplished oarsman, pole-vaulter, boxer, gymnast, cyclist, horseman and golfer.
Mr. Pentland saw the potential in the linksland of Baltray as a golf course and he duly invoked the aid of Tom Gilroy. The Golfing Annual of 1894-95 gives it as an eighteen hole course - the circuit being about three miles. He was club Captain in 1896, 1897 and again in 1908
as well as being its President (albeit in absentia in England) from 1922 until his death in 1932. He was also the Honourable Secretary of Clogherhead Lifeboat in 1899 and was one of the first car owners in the area with a registration number IY110.
In the Autumn of 1922 George and his family departed Blackhall and relocated to Shalford, Surrey,England.
The course was modified to a large extent when Tom Simpson and his assistant, Molly Gourlay, redesigned the course in 1938 but so successful were the alterations made at this time, the course remains relatively unchanged today. Noted in Irish golfing circles for the quality of its greens, visitors to County Louth are often perplexed that a links of such quality should have a rather modest international profile.
Baltray plays annual host to the East of Ireland Golf Championships since its inauguration in 1941, which was won no fewer than 12 times by the legendary Irish amateur, Joe Carr. The club recently hosted the Irish Open in 2004 and 2009.
At a length of almost 7,031 yards, Baltray is certainly not short, but when you consider the natural hazards of the links game combined with blowing winds and heavy rough, it becomes a difficult, though immensely enjoyable golf course.
Some of the finest holes at Baltray include the difficult par four opening hole; the long par five 3rd, which requires a blind shot over a knoll onto a small green; the par five 6th, which leads through a valley of dunes to a green hidden behind two hills; the par four 14th, which requires a drive from an elevated tee to a fairway almost 200 yards away; and the majestic closing hole, complete with some malicious bunkering.
Baltray is a family club. There are the Connolly’s, Gannon’s, Garvey’s, Lyon’s and the Reddans, to mention a few, whose commitment dedication and foresight have brought worldwide recognition to the club.
Baltray is not just a great golf links, it is a great Golf Club.