1999 was a year of triple celebration for Cork County Cricket Club in the south of Ireland. It was the 125th anniversary of the Club itself, and also marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Cork City Club, Cork County’s predecessor, and the 150th anniversary of cricket at the Mardyke Cricket Ground - the home of Cork County.

Cricket has been played to a high level since 1849 at the Mardyke. Those who have played at the ground include Grace and Murdoch at the turn of the century through Duleepsinghi and Constantine to the modem era of Gooch, Marshall, Pringle and Alleyne. Indeed, the final fixture of the season, unfortunately washed out, was against Mark Alleyene and a Gloucestershire XI. County has had many a famous member over the years with four test cricketers included-Leland Hone, Sir Tim O'Brien, who captained County at one stage of his career, Charlie Hallows and Doug Wright. Other notables include George Berkeley (responsible for the follow-on law). Dyer (of the Amritsar massacre) and WP Lloyd (a Victoria Cross winner). The 17th Lancers (the Light Brigade) made their presence felt immediately after Crimea as did the 16th Irish Division in the immediate pre-Great War era-the 16th was very much to the fore at the Somme in 1916.

Visiting teams over the years include I Zingari, Cambridge University, Dublin University, various County selections from England and of course all of the top clubs in Ireland. The Ireland team has played a number of Internationals at the Mardyke which is where the Munster Cricket Union play their provincial games.

View towards the Mardyke pavilionView towards the Mardyke pavilion

Cork County boasts of a Pavilion which dates to 1856-still being used and surely among the very oldest anywhere? I Zingari came on their first of several tours to Cork a decade later. Robert Fitzgerald captured the moment on camera and thf Wait benefitted from the experience of playing against several of the best cricketers of the time. It was on the first tour that the first recorded women’s cricket was played in Ireland-albeit indoors.

The Mardyke has been host to sports other than cricket; the first lacrosse international in Ireland was played here in 1903 with Ireland beating England by 12-2, the first pneumatic tyre to be used in a bicycle race was at the University sports in the 1880s. Several world bests were recorded at these University sports first run-off in 1870. The first Inter-Club competition involving more than two teams was the Inter Colleges Championships at the Mardyke in 1873. But the ground is primarily a cricket ground and the game has been played here since 1849-an event worth celebrating.

Two books have been written to commemorate the triple celebration; a 200 page illustrated book traces the history of the game in Cork since 1849 and before. None of the illustrations have been published before, with many coming from the MCC archives. The early years of cricket in Ireland are dealt with at length from the Cork angle-with much original material coming to light. This includes details of an ‘Ireland’ XI playing against an ‘England’ XI in 1851 and of All Ireland XIs playing in Cork County in 1856 and 1857. The venues of several of these matches have been located and are illustrated.

Ground view with Sunday's Well in the backgroundGround view with Sunday's Well in the background

such scorecards have been available to the general public in book form. Also included are important games played in Bandon and Mallow. The visit of Duleepsinghi is also remembered with the full scorecard given of the Cambridge University game against County in 1925-169 not out!

These are the first home-written books on Irish cricket for forty five years! Unfortunately, Irish cricket is an area that is neglected by the researcher and there is a wealth of material to write on. These two books address the lack of information and data on the subject.