History by Roland Budd

Trinity College, Dublin seems to have been home to racket sports enthusiasts for centuries. As early as 1633, only four decades after the foundation of Trinity College, Dublin, it is recorded that part of a church had been converted for use as a 'tennis court'. It is possible that Trinity students were among the users of this 'tennis court', but College statutes dating from the same period actually prohibited such games. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, sports facilities were actually being built in College, and among these was a real tennis court which stood somewhere near today's Aras an Phiarsaigh until the early 1800s.

In the 1860s racket sports players in College managed to secure the approval of the Board for the construction of a 'racket court' in the north-east angle of the College Park. The Board even granted £100 towards the costs of erecting the building. However, at the end of the decade when the court was complete, debts outstanding in relation to the project seem to have threatened to upset plans for the construction of a gymnasium. Fortunately they did not, for while that racket court and gymnasium now house the Map Library and the Bio-Resources Centre (whatever that may be...) during the period between the 1930s and early 1980s the building contained squash courts. In fact the old gymnasium and the racket court are scheduled for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the north east corner of the College.

The Dublin University Squash Rackets Club seems to have been set up in the mid 1930s, and courts were constructed beside the gymnasium in about 1938. It was around this time that a Trinity student, George McVeagh, added to his remarkable list of sporting achievements the captaincy of the Irish squash team.

The Squash Club also boasts, in Joyce Lavan, the first woman to have been awarded a pink, as well as various international players of each sex including F.S.L. Lyons, later to become Provost, Donald Pratt, winner of the Irish Open for ten years in succession from the mid 1950s, and more recently the Irish champion Aisling McArdle. Aisling Blake, a former Captain of the club, is currently playing professionally and is ranked 34th in the world.

The Squash Club enjoyed considerable success in the closing decades of the twentieth century, winning the Irish Club Championship on a number of occasions, most notably in the Quatercentenary year when both the men and the ladies were victorious. In that year the Club also enjoyed a coaching session with Jonah Barrington, one of the greatest squash players of all time and the father of the modern professional game - and a student at Trinity himself in the late 1950s / early 1960s, where he in fact started to play squash in the first place!

Coaching has indeed been of great importance to the success of the Club in every respect - not only to its capacity to win tournaments, but also to its role in introducing students (as well as staff and others in the College community) to the game. For much of the 1980s the Club benefited from the advice of Alan Jerrold, but since the mid 1980s Elvy d'Costa has coached in Trinity, as well as supervising the development of various Irish International teams and contributing to the training of coaches for Irish Squash. The record of the Club at the Irish Intervarsity Tournament is unrivalled, with both men and women winning it many times. In fact, the men have held the trophy for the past 10 years.

In 1980 the Squash Club moved a few yards north with the construction of the Luce Sports Centre. This cuboid structure, named in honour of A.A. and J.V. Luce, father and son, both senior fellows and sportsmen, contained six squash courts.