Potted History

Wicklow County Cricket Club is a new club in cricket for 2010. A working together was tried informally last season as Avondale/North Wicklow leading to a formal merger last December. Up to then there were two clubs in the county, Avondale covered Rathdrum and Arklow while North Wicklow covered Bray and Greystones. Now we have Wicklow County Cricket Club, the name on the tin for the whole county.
Cricket has been played in Wicklow since the late 1850s. Bray Cricket Club was founded on 30th April 1861, the decision taken after a meeting in the local courthouse. The first ground was a field loaned by Mr. Domville on Old Connaught Avenue. The Wicklow Newsletter on 15th August 1863 reported a return match against South Wicklow at Avondale, home of Charles Stewart Parnell, famous land reform patriot. South Wicklow won this all-day two innings game easily, Parnell “making a splendid hit to leg for 6” in the first innings and two wickets in the second as he took the ball to help finish off Bray by a margin of 123 runs.
Parnell was a regular cricketer in the days before land reform gripped his attention. The game was promoted by gentlemen like him who crossed the social and religious divide of the time to fill their teams. When land reform agitation deepened the divide, cricket became a casualty, a paradox for Parnell.
Bray came back into the picture in the early 1900s. Sir Stanley Cochrane of Cantrell and Cochrane fame, spent a lot of money in making his Bray Woodbrook ground a first class venue. He stiffened his side with leading English players such as Jack Hobbs and Sydney Barnes to take on South Africa and Australia who came to Woodbrook in 1907 and 1909 respectively. Each match ran for three days, the Wicklow and Wexford railway company building a halt at Woodbrook to facilitate crowds up to four thousand. The spin off helped to revive the Bray club but cricket again fell back on the outbreak of the Great War.
The Bray club revived in 1953 and enjoyed twenty years before having to vacate its ground off the Vevay Road. It then faded away again but the link to the present was not lost when the late Fred Lee got it going again in 1979, about the same time as cricket was starting in Arklow.
Grounds were always a problem for North Wicklow, Avondale and their previous editions as lack of ownership or lease meant that the clubs never had more than week to week tenancy. In 1985 Bray moved to Greystones, the loss of its ground again the reason . The club changed its name to North Wicklow and played at the rugby club’s reserve ground at Farrankelly until 1993. We ran a ladies section for a few years out of Farrankelly. When this ground was sold for housing the club moved again, leading to its present grounds. The Arklow club meanwhile enjoyed some years at Brittas Bay and then at Arklow Rugby club, eventually completing a cycle by restarting cricket at Parnell’s old Avondale House, now owned by the state. Arklow later became Avondale and five years ago found its present Rathdrum home. The new Wicklow County Cricket club has six teams, first to fifth elevens in Leinster Cricket Union competitions and a Taverner team. We are not ready to start youth cricket but it is very much our aim to do so meaningfully as soon as possible. It is also our aim to find one new ground in Co. Wicklow at which we can centralise our cricket long term.
At present we play at (1) Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club, Grange Rd., Rathfarnham, (2) Aravon School, Old Connaught, Bray, (3) Rathdrum Rugby Club, Rathdrum and (4) Oak Hill Cricket Club, the fine new ground owned by Peter Savill at Kilbride, to the left off the N11 between The Beehive and Lil Doyle’s. Our first team play their home matches there as Oak Hill and have high hopes of promotion to the Senior One cricket at the end of this season.

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