2018 COMMITTEE Chairperson Adrian Downey Secretary Carol Brill Asst. Secretary Kathleen Bond Treasurer Eamonn McGee Handicap Secretary Pat Morgan Public Relations Ed Maguire Captain Philip Bond OUR FOUNDERS JIMMY & MAUREEN MURRAY
Jimmy and Maureen Murray have followed a philosophy throughout their life; if you do nothing, you get nothing. They have lived in Greenhills, Dublin for over thirty years. They have experienced a very different Ireland through the last seven decades. Teeing is Believing will tell the charming story of Jimmy and Maureen Murray and how living their lives in a blind Ireland has make them the people they are today.
Maureen was born with very limited vision. There was a stigma attached to blindness. “I cycled everywhere when I lived in Monaghan, I don’t know how I wasn’t killed”. At the age of 11 she moved to Dublin and become a boarder at St Mary’s School for the Blind. “This was a breath for fresh air, I could finally live my life as a blind person”. She would return to Monaghan for summer holidays once a year. “It was tough, but I survived”. By Maureen’s mid-teens she was completely blind.
Jimmy is originally from Kilkenny. When he was born, Jimmy could see, but he still isn’t sure how much he could see. “I am not sure if it was always bad, I just knew no different.” When he was in 1st year in the local CBS, it was discovered that his sight was deteriorating. Blind schooling just wasn’t available so Jimmy moved to Dublin and went to St Joseph’s in Drumcondra. Jimmy is now very partially sighted.
From a very early age Maureen was a keen ballroom dancer and in 1973 she was at a dinner dance in Tara Towers and so was Jimmy. “Jimmy asked me to buy him a pint, the cheek of him and then he asked me to dance, we have been together ever since.” It was a whirlwind romance and within a year they were married and living in Greenhills. Brendan their only son arrived two years later. Job opportunities for both were very slim. There were three options, factory work, telephonist or work in sheltered employed. Jimmy opted to work in Blindcraft and Maureen worked as a telephonist in Ulster Bank. After 17 years in Ulster Bank, Maureen stepped aside to make way for Jimmy. “I had to train him in before I left”.
They have striven all their lives not to be defined by blindness and as new technologies were introduced they embraced them, they were and are willing to try anything. The most adventurous thing Jimmy took up was golf and together they run the Irish Blind Golf Society. While Jimmy was out on the green, Maureen looked after the administration on her computer that talked back to her.
As the Society membership grew, a working committee was formed to take over the reins from Jimmy and Maureen. Without these two exceptional people, Irish Blind Golf would not be the organization it is today without them and all the members will be forever indebted to their sheer determination to make blind golf a reality in Ireland. In 2016, on the occasion of celebration the 25th anniversary of Irish Blind Golf, Jimmy Murray was presented with a token of our appreciation for his work over all the years he has given to IBG.
A Brief History of Blind Golf in IrelandThe Irish Blind Golf Society (1991 - 2010) Recalled by founder member Jimmy Murray in January 2010
First Steps In 1991, Northern Ireland Blind Golf (NIBGA) organised the British Blind Golf Open in Donaghadee. They contacted Irish Blind Sports to enquire if Ireland had any golfers interested in taking part. Jimmy Murray was on the Irish Blind Sports’ committee at the time, and set about finding some blind and visually impairedgolfers in Ireland. An announcement was made on the radio programme, “Listen and See,” and in Jimmy's words, "it went on from there.”
First Blind Golfers A number of people stepped forward to participate in golf, some experienced and some who were new to the game. The first blind golfers in Ireland were Jimmy Murray, Frank McDougall, Sam McMahon, Eddie Byrne (RIP), John Fennelly, Owen Kyne and Seamus Ryan. The Spawell in Templeogue became the centre of activity for the first years. John Nolan, a brother of RTE’s Liam Nolan, set up the relationship with the Spawell. For many years, the Spawell supported blind golfers, offering free practice and meeting facilities.
The first golf outing on an 18 whole course took place in Woodbrook. The Guide Dogs for the Blind and the European Open This fundraising event was organised by the Irish Guide Dogs (Dublin) at the Spawell. It occurred at the time of the European Open, held at the K Club. This attracted some of the world’s top golfers to play in an exhibition match against Ireland's Blind Golfers. It was facilitated by Padraig Harrington's caddie John O’Reilly, and supported by NCBI director, Jimmy O’Hanlon. Professional golfers taking part in this event included Lee Westwood, Seve Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia, Bernard Langer, Padraig Harrington and Paul, McGinley. Just to even things up the professional golfers wore blindfolds. This took place each year between 1995 and 2000.
The Irish Blind Golf Open For several years, it took place in Bray. Mt Juliet was the venue in 1998, and Turvey in 1999. The event was supported annually by the NCBI and for two years by the National Lottery. Golfers from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and England participated. By staging this event, Irish Blind Golf Society established itself as a strong force in the international blind golf community, which is administered by the International Blind Golf Association.
Birth of The Constitution of the Society Around this time, the first constitution was written. This document was prepared with the assistance of the legal department of Ulster Bank, and set out the structure of the society. For the first time in Ireland, the means by which golf may be played by blind and visually impaired people was written down.
Irish Blind Golf Society in 2010 In 2010, the Irish Blind Golf Society was restructured, whilst endeavouring to build on the good work of Jimmy and Maureen Murray. This was facilitated by prominent members, Peter Gorey (chairman), and Ian Corr (captain). There were currently 8 playing members, plus associates. The Constitution was updated along with a development programme focusing on areas outside of Dublin. The immediate goal of the society was to host the 2011 Celtic Cup match against Scotland.
Renaming in 2017 At the AGM in January 2017, members unanimously voted to change the ethos of the society to a national body for blind and visually impaired golfers in Ireland, and therefore we are now known as Irish Blind Golf. Our goals and commitments have not changed, in that we will continue to support Irish golfers with visual difficulties to play in competitions at home and abroad. 2017 was an ambitious year where we hosted the Celtic Cup at Newforest GC, Tyrellspass, a competition held between Ireland and Scotland. We also hosted the ISPS Handa Irish Blind Golf Open at the Nuremore Hotel and Country Club which was a tremendous success, attended by 42 golfers from Ireland, Britain, Italy, Austria, South Africa, Australia and the USA.