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This text comes from a 1990 interview with Joe Briscoe, Founder Commodore of the DMYC. A more recent interview was done in 2012, talking with our founding Commodore, and other club members.
The Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club celebrates it’s 25th anniversary this year, and, as the Founder Commodore, I have been asked to reminisce about the origins of our Club. In some ways this has been a painful exercise for me as so many of our founder members are no longer alive.
25 years ago the yachting and boating scene in and around Dun Laoghaire harbour was a much more happy-go-lucky affair than it appears to be today. The year of the “biggest”, “fastest” and “Bestest” had not yet arrived. Also, apart from the three waterfront Clubs, there was yet another class of leisure sailor. On most spring days (and particularly at weekends) between early March and May this “conglomeration of all types” class could be found fitting out their various types of craft on the “hard” on the West side of the Coal Harbour. Charlie Blackmore and Dan McDonald reigned supreme. They owned a block of moorings which they rented out on a yearly basis together with a limited boat service. They also launched your boat when the time came. Heaven help you if you ran foul of Charlie! He had a voice like a galvanized bucket! I have seen hospital consultants grown pale under an onslaught! Charlie was also the mechanic on the life boat crew.
Basically I suppose we were the waifs and strays of the Dun Laoghaire boating scene with no possibility of permanency on the “hard” as it was always packed out in winter and was a case of first up got a space. In the summer the mooring situation was very haphazard with unreliable “sinkers” being dropped all over the inner harbour. The inner harbour was supervised by Johnny Shortall and his brother, ‘Mouse’, decent men who did their best.
The Crofton Hotel (where B.I.M. is now) was a sort of unofficial club house and it was there, over a pint, that I suggested we should get organised and form some sort of club to cater for unusual mix, the only qualification being that you got your enjoyment from any form of boating – sail, power, angling, scuba diving, etc. There was an immediate positive response and many names spring to mind – in particular Bill & Phyllis McGann, Cecil Buggy, John King, Roy Starkey, Bob Geldof, Brian Welsh, Liam King, Jim Keogh, Victor Enoch, Neil MacDougald, Brian Crummy, Brian Doran, etc., etc. Many, many more, but I’ve got to stop somewhere.
We started off by subscribing £1.00 each to a general fund and we began to have regular meetings in the Crofton Hotel.
The Harbour Master at that time was Commander Thompson, who gave me tremendous encouragement and support. It was he who suggested the site where eventually the Club House was built. This was very farsighted, because in the 1960s that part of the harbour was very neglected and not the most attractive area. Remember there was no slipway (to be build some years later by the Club) and the inner harbour dried out at very low tide (still does!). We would have preferred a site close to the “hard”, where at the time the Kish lighthouse was being built by Christiani Neilsen, but this was turned down. Of course with hindsight I now realise that it would have been most unsatisfactory.
Then the work really began – planning permission and a lease from the Board of Works. This entailed lots of meetings with various officials, submission of plans and more plans, articles of association, rules and regulations, etc. It really was horrendous, but we kept at it and in the end succeeded. Great! Now all we needed was money to build! Our total funds had now grown to almost £100! However, we had big ideas and we were a group of people who knew what we wanted and were prepared to work hard for our objective.
To raise funds we decided to run a Water Carnival, consisting of offshore power boat racing, sub aqua display and all sorts of boating activities. The most important element, however, was an air/sea rescue exercise by the Helicopter Wing of the Air Corps. This was the first time that the public were able to witness an air/sea rescue group in action. (As a gesture of thanks the Helicopter Wing were made Honorary Members of the Club and still are to this day). A program with lots of advertising and sponsorship was printed and eventually press conferences (on board John King’s Galway Hooker “Connacht”), all resulting – we hoped – in general public interest. When I think back I don’t know where we got our energy and time from – but it worked! The Water Carnival was successful beyond our wildest expectations. The Gardai told us later that they estimated in excess of 25,000 people entered the borough that Sunday in June. Despite the usual behind the scene catastrophes everything went as planned. The weather was fabulous, our programmes sold out and we raised in excess of £2,000. The following year we ran another Carnival – again a great success. A grant was obtained from Bord Failte and a loan from the Bank of Ireland. We were now able to seek tenders for the Club House.
A building committee was formed. We were fortunate to have among our growing numbers experts from every field. These experts took over the project. Brian Doran designed the building and supervised its construction as his “donation”. Cecil Buggy designed and installed the central heating and plumbing as his “gift”. Somebody else did the electrical work, some else the curtains and so on. In fact the entire operation was a glowing example of what can be achieved when a group of people with various talents get together and co-operate. I still get a warm feeling when I think back and recall my good luck in being the one to preside over such wonderful people. As I pen these words I reflect back to those exciting and memorable years. I see faces of smiling good-natured folk – all friends – and may who are now, sadly, no longer with us. Of course it wasn’t all easy and smooth.
We had many problems along the way, but we overcame them and will continue to do so as long as we co-operate and see another’s view point.
The official opening of the Club House was a wonderful night to remember. The culmination of all our efforts. The huge crowd present seemed to be infected with our joy. It is impossible for me to put into words the sheer happiness of the occasion. I suppose it was like a dream that had come true. What had started out as a good idea with not much chance of success was now a fact. The Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club was ready to take its place alongside the other three waterfront clubs. However, we hadn’t let our success go to our heads. The co-operative spirit was still there and the entire catering operation was expertly handled by our ladies, let by Moira Kieran and Edith Merton.
Dr. John de Courcy Ireland was Hon. Secretary of the Life Boat. He saw the need for a new club and was one of the many people who gave us great encouragement.
The Kish lighthouse was now in place and functioning and during a conversation with John I suggested that a Christmas hamper be sent to the Kish as a sign of our appreciation of their services to us. With John’s co-operation the Life Boat was involved and the annual Kish Hamper and Children’s Christmas Party at the Club was inaugurated. For many years I played “Santa” and I have many happy memories of my trips in all kinds of weather out to the Kish and then later arriving in the midst of great excitement to deliver presents to the children at the Club. It is with extreme regret that I note that last Christmas was the first time that the late Eric Offer was not at the helm of the Life Boat.
Inevitably it became obvious that we had to have a slipway. Again, Cecil Buggy, with the help of Jim Hegarty together with a very small committee saw this through to a successful conclusion. The design and construction was unique for that time; the “core” consisted of reinforced hollow concrete “boxes”, each lowered into position by crane and then filled with stone ballast. Many pundits, not only within our Club, but from all over the harbour area, gave their opinion that it wouldn’t last. ‘Could never stand up to a severe north-easterly’ etc., etc. Well, it has stood the test of time and is a monument to not only Cecil and Jim, but also the builder, Leo Uhlmann (also a Club member).
The emblem of the D.M.Y.C. is a sail above and a propeller below the water (Neil MacDougald’s design). It’s good to see that the objects and needs which led to the creation of our Club are still being catered for. Since I retired from ‘active duty’ the Club has gone from strength to strength – the extension so badly needed because we grew so much, the finest boat service in the harbour and so much more. I must say I am very proud of the D.M.Y.C., what it stand for and what it has achieved in such a short period. It makes me happy and contented to see the present ‘helmsman’ continue to steer the D.M.Y.C. on the correct course. If I am to be accused of being guilty of the sin of pride then I have no option other than to plead “guilty”.
Joseph H. Briscoe,
Founder Commodore – 1990
Joe Briscoe passed away at the end of September, 2015.
1966 – 1984
|1965||Joseph Briscoe||1975||John Horn|
|1966||Joseph Briscoe||1976||Theo Harris|
|1967||Joseph Briscoe||1977||Peter Murphy|
|1968||Joseph Briscoe||1978||Robert Kieran|
|1969||Cecil Buggy||1979||Robert Kieran|
|1970||Victor Enoch||1980||Avril Harris|
|1971||James Keogh||1981||Avril Harris|
|1972||Roy Starkey||1982||Philip Bourke|
|1973||Frank Ryan||1983||Philip Bourke|
|1974||Frank Ryan||1984||Philip Bourke|
1985 – 2004
|1985||Sean Fergus||1995||David Gould|
|1986||Andy O’Donnell||1996||David Gould|
|1987||Andy O’Donnell||1997||Jeff Brownlee|
|1988||Andy O’Donnell||1998||Jeff Brownlee|
|1989||Michael Cutliffe||1999||F. O’Shaughnessy|
|1990||Michael Cutliffe||2000||F. O’Shaughnessy|
|1991||Philip A. Smith||2001||Ray Greer|
|1992||Philip A. Smith||2002||Ray Greer|
|1993||Leslie Parnell||2003||Declan Heffernan|
|1994||Leslie Parnell||2004||Declan Heffernan|
2005 – 2023
|2005||Joe Timbs||2015||Kevin Burke|
|2006||Joe Timbs||2016||Barry Kenny|
|2007||Joe Fallon||2017||Barry Kenny|
|2008||Stuart Kinnear||2018||Frank Guilfoyle|
|2009||Stuart Kinnear||2019||Frank Guilfoyle|