UNDERTAKING RESEARCH in archives can occasionally lead to exciting and interesting finds. One such was the finding of what is likely to be the earliest photograph involving an Irish team. The photograph was reproduced in "Sport"-the weekly sporting newspaper, now sadly defunct. The October 13th issue of 1888 carried a report of the return to Queenstown (Cobh) of the Irish Tourists to North America. The City of Rome conveyed the Tourists back to Ireland and the report was accompanied by the "instantaneous photograph".

The caption underneath relates how William Synnott was out-caught. Despite the poor quality-and bear in mind that this is still the period that photography was still in its infancy-the illustration remains unique and historic. The transfer of the image across the Atlantic and the reproductive qualities of the newspaper account for the poor quality of the image. Engraving would be the basis of newspaper illustrations in the Victorian era, the Edwardian era would see photographic reproductions and general improvement in such imagery. As for the game-Philadelphia-v-Ireland, 1888-won by the hosts. This was the final game of the 1888 Tour, the story of which is as follows:- The 1888 Tour to America by Irish cricketers was organised by JW Hynes and captained by Dominick Cronin. Ensuring the best players to tour has always been difficult and so it was not the strongest XX that set sail. The party with Thomas Lyle of Coleraine arrived at Quebec, Canada on August 18th. Six matches were to be played in Canada and eight in the USA.

The first game at Kingstown, Ontario resulted in a ten wicket win by the Tourists: Hynes had a knock of 65 with Meldon 37. The local press commented that the Irish Tourists confined their strokes to `cuts and grounders'. At Ottawa the local XV were routed: Hynes top scored with 61 and also had 10 wickets for 12 runs! Cronin had 37 and with ER Fitzgerald taking the first four batsmen the result was one-sided-150, Ottawa 38 and 61. A "XV of All North of Ontario" were played at Orilla. The pitch was poor and several Irish batsmen were laid low by balls to the body. Maxwell and Meldon (46) ensured an Irish second innings total of 284 for nine after scoring 144 in the first knock. The XV replied with 121.

An All Canada XI at Toronto scored 114 but with Hynes (72), Dunn, Maxwell and the Fitzgeralds to the fore Ireland's reply totalled 249. Canada's collapse in the second innings was not surprising with Hynes and JP Firzgerald on the spot. The Canadian Tour ended with a game at Hamilton. The host XV had Ireland out for 146 (Hynes 74). They then replied with 175. Ireland then ran up 173 but the XV managed the draw. Dunn had 77 out of that 173 total. And so on to the USA

Rain affected the first game at Pittsburgh. Adversely, it was likewise at Baltimore for the next game. One-day matches followed at Lawrence, MA and at Concord, MA with the visitors easy winners. A three-day game at Boston followed. On a bad wicket Ireland were all out for 78 in the first innings-the hosts fared worse with only 50 on the card. Ireland added a meagre 64 to leave 91 as the target but with 87 all out Ireland had scraped to a win by 4 runs.

And so to Philadelphia and the Germantown Cricket Club: there was some surprise at the Telegraph Board-this showed the players' names-not simply numbers. In addition the Party alighted at a railway station entitled `CRICKET'-specially for the ground. This and Woodbrook are perhaps the only such cases of a ground having its own railway station. Woodbrook being of course the Stanley Cochrane premises. There was much interest in this game - some 5,000 spectators were in attendance. Ireland had a four run margin on the first innings and were set 127 to win but in the end Philadelphia had won by seven runs.

On to Staten Island for the penultimate game against New York. Two of the hosts, CA Absolom (former Kent player) and John Henry Lambkin (former Cork County player) accounted for the bulk of the New York first innings of 202 but with Dunn scoring 126, Ireland's reply was a formidable 328. New York scored 148 in the second innings with Ireland securing the necessary runs for the loss of one wicket.

The second Philadelphia game, the final of the tour, saw another thrilling encounter with Ireland losing by thirty nine runs within three minutes of the end of play. The Philadelphians were on 96 for eight before the tail enders pushed the score to 182. Ireland's reply came within two runs of that total, 180. Philadelphia then made 252 with no less than nine of the Tourists bowling. But overall Ireland were unlucky and a narrow defeat-on time-followed. Dunn, who was in good form, ran himself out in the first innings. Maxwell stood on his wicket when hitting a ball out of the ground. The last man in, Tobin, was at the back of the pavilion when his predecessor was dismissed. He was rushed to the wicket gloveless and padless. Needless to add his stay was short lived and the spectators, 10,000 in all, descended on the Victors.

The picture shows a scene during this game. William Synnott is just out. Is this the earliest action photograph of an Irish cricket encounter?

The 1888 Tourists comprised:

Ireland careerClubsBirth & Death
JW Hynes1883-1896DU/Phoenix/Leinster1864-1930
Dominic Cronin1884-1888DU/Cork Co1863-1948
ER Fitzgerald1887-1891DU1868-1950
JP Fitzgerald1887-1888DU1866- ?
JP Maxwell1883-1891DU/Phoenix1860-1937
F Kennedy1888Phoenix1863-1939
W Synnott1888-1890Phoenix1861-1924
W Johnston1883-1888DU1863-1936
R Johnston DU?
JM Meldon1888-1902DU/Co Galway/Phoenix1869-1954
DF Gillman1888Phoenix1856-1928
T Tobin1887-1888Leinster?
J Dunn1887-1888Phoenix1862-1892