Castleknock’s hidden gem

by Dave Donnelly

Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club hope to put a ‘hidden gem’ of the North Dublin landscape on display as they polish off a multi-million-euro refurbishment of the club on the Old Navan Road.

2018 saw the completion of renovations that brought the facility up to ten outdoor tennis courts and five indoor courts and the next stage, to be completed in July, will see a touch-up on the exterior.

A land-swap with Fingal County Council has opened up frontage on the main road whereas, previously, the club’s premises had been somewhat hidden away.

The housing development at Castleknock Cross has seen the local population increase and the club have aimed to capitalise on by giving a major facelift to the part of the club facing the road.

“There’s a public realm that extends out to the east road,” club chairman Philip Carey tells Dublin Gazette.

“Fingal have been very supportive of our planning application, and part of our planning application was that we would provide this public realm.

“The developers were trying to open it up just to a people passing by point of view. We had very little frontage, so people didn’t really know what was going on.

“It will benefit the community because when you come off the overpass from the M50, there will be an open realm there with our building bordering the bridge. It’s a win-win for everyone.

“When people come out of the overpass, they come out into a bright, well-maintained, fairly attractive space that will bring them on their journey up to Brady’s or across to the 12th Lock.”

Last May, saw the club host the Four Nations Veterans tournament, under the guidance of Tennis Ireland, as Over-45s from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales duked it out in Castleknock.

While Ireland’s relegation to Group III means future Davis Cup hosting opportunities are unlikely for the foreseeable future, the capacity remains to host top-class events at the new facility.

“We’ve held them in the past, so there’s no reason we can’t host them in the future. The only problem for us is where Irish tennis is at the moment.

“I don’t want to blow our trumpet too much, but we’d definitely be in one of the top three or four clubs in the country, facility-wise.

“It’s a good mix. The indoor courts give great capacity for junior coaching and performance programmes where kids can train all year round.”

The club have link-ups with local schools St Brigid’s NS and Educate Together, while a partnership with Stewart Care in Palmerstown is another extension of their community outreach.

Former Ireland number one James McGee, who competed at Wimbledon in 2017, is a product of the club having been a student at Brigid’s before turning professional.

“He’s currently coaching in America but he was home here at Christmas and did a few clinics with the junior guys.

“He’d be a great role model for them because he lived down the road, he went to Brigid’s – he was just the same as them. If James can do it, and of those guys can as well.”

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