Monday, 3 August 2020

A photograph to tell the story of
a unique institution in Limerick

The Limerick Protestant Young Men’s Association premises at 97 O’Connell Street, Limerick … featured in the August 2020 edition of ‘An Abhann’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

My photograph of the Limerick Protestant Young Men’s Association premises on O’Connell Street, Limerick, illustrates a feature on the LPYMA by Craig Copley Browne in the current [August 2020] edition of An Abhann (Vol 3, No 3), the monthly newsletter of the Limerick City Parish (pp 19-20).

The Limerick Protestant Young Men’s Association (LPYMA)

Craig Copley Browne

The Limerick Protestant Young Men’s Association (LPYMA) was established in 1853 to provide suitable means for the spiritual, mental, moral, and physical improvement of its members, as well as to promote both literary and scientific study and the cultivation of artistic taste. During the mid-nineteenth century, there had been a great interest in Limerick in the establishment of such ‘social clubs’ to provide men (and women) with the appropriate means to socialise, exercise and become learned. The LPYMA is a prime example of such an endeavour, with the Association attracting some 470 members by the 1890s. At its peak in the Victorian era, it was famous for hosting large orchestral soirees in the Protestant Orphans’ Hall, which attracted upwards of 500 guests.

The LPYMA was governed by a committee comprising several nominated Patrons, a President, Vice-Presidents (some 40 Vice-Presidents held office at the same time), Clerical members (ex-officio) and Lay members. Many of Limerick’s great and good were involved, such as Sir Alexander Shaw, Sir Francis Cleeve, SirCharles Barrington, Sir James Spaight, Archibald Murray and Robert Hunt.

The LPYMA purchased no. 97 George Street (later O’Connell Street) in 1875, and still operates from this building today. From this premises, the Association operated a number of amenities for its members including: a library and reading room, common room with smoking lounge, lecture hall, sports hall, billiards room and sundry meeting rooms where the various literary, chess and debating groups met. The Association was also fortunate to purchase playing fields and pavilion at Farranshone in 1920, which brought about the establishment of various LPYMA sporting clubs: hockey, cricket, gymnastics, bowls, tennis, rugby, croquet and badminton. This land was sold in 1976.

Most of you will however associate the LPYMA exclusively with sport, and indeed the Association enjoyed great success in hockey, tennis and cricket in particular. One of the Association’s most famous sons was the late Stanley (Stan) de Lacy. Stan played hockey with the LPYMA first team, going on to be capped 37 times for Ireland, and captaining the team on many occasions, including the Lion’s tour of Africa in 1952. In 1939, he played on the British-Irish team against Germany in Munich on the eve of the Second World War. After the game, he was presented with a figure of the ‘Munich Monk’s Child’ by Adolf Hitler!

The LPYMA in more recent times has seen a decline in membership as interest wanes. However, the Association is still here, and hoping to become more active in the near future! If anyone is interested in contacting the LPYMA, they can do so by contacting me at craig.copleybrown@gmail.com or by post at 97 O’Connell Street, Limerick.

The current trustees of the LPYMA are:

Philip Cullen (President), Kieron Brislane (Hon. Secretary), Craig Copley Brown (Hon. Treasurer), Kieran Sparling, Victor Brown, Frank Sheahan, Thomas Peirce and Thomas Clarke.

Other illustrations in this feature include portraits of founding member Archdeacon Benjamin Jacob A.M. and Robert Hunt JP that hang in the boardroom of 97 O’Connell Street, the LPYMA hockey team in the 1940s, and the LPYMA Major Hall.

1 comment:

Janet McKee said...

An interesting account of the voice of the small minority in an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. But Ireland has changed remarkably in more modern times.