There are three islands situated in Cork Harbour east of Cork City. The biggest of the three islands is Cobh where the Titanic and other famous liners sailed from. On the way to Cobh you pass Fota Island and between Fota and Cork City is the island of Little Island where a unique and wonderful golf course is located.
Nowadays the three islands are reachable by road but like Valentia Island in Kerry they continue to have the peaceful and serene island feeling.
The golf course at Little Island came about when a few Cork businessmen were sailing their yacht down the river Lee from Cork to Crosshaven when they spotted on their left hand (port!) side the limestone quarries at Little Island. This land is situated 5 or 6 miles downriver from the city. They thought that the land might make an ideal site for a golf course and they were proven to be absolutely right.
View from 4th tee looking downriver towards Fota and Cobh
In the early days many members at Little Island were also members at The Royal Cork Yacht Club which is situated close to the mouth of Cork Harbour at Crosshaven. It used to be said about the members at Little island that it was dangerous to be seen playing golf at Little Island in the summer months in case people might think they didn’t have a yacht!
In those days the limestone land was an active limestone quarry and limestone from the Little Island quarry was used in many famous buildings in Cork and America.
A wonderful golf course was built on the site over 100 years ago, designed largely by Dr Alister Mc Kenzie. The golf course has two distinct parts; The holes that meander between the limestone quarries from the second hole, where the tee shot needs to carry a quarry, to the thirteenth hole which is a short par three, again over another of the limestone quarries.
The other part of the golf course which is called the park is from the fourteenth to the eighteenth and includes the first hole. These holes are built on land that was purchased in more recent times and is more parkland than quarry land.
Naturally because most of the golf course is built on limestone land the drainage is really good, similar to the wonderful links free draining golf courses that we have dotted around the coast of Ireland where sand blown up from the nearby beaches provide sandy grass land with great drainage.
The old bunker/magazine where they used to store explosives when the area was a working quarry can still be seen on the right of the 11th fairway, and as you look from the 11th fairway over the short 9th par three you can see the old now disused limestone quarries in the background.
I love the quietness and the peace of Little Island on a summer or a late autumn evening, and on a lovely calm September evening last week as the darkness was approaching, there was just me and a few sea gulls enjoying the quietness and tranquillity.
As I walked towards the 11th green I passed the Spanish Chestnut tree planted to mark the spot where Sevy’s tee shot finished on his visit to Little Island in 1983. With the Ryder Cup fast approaching I am sure that his memory will again be motivational to both teams as the players do their best to win a tournament that he helped to rejuvenate. Rory Mc Ilroy’s win over the weekend surely gives a great boost to the European team.
Sevy’s Spanish chestnut tree planted almost a third of a century ago now in full bloom.
Photo of the Spanish Chestnut being planted in 1984
Sevy, at Little Island the members and the local people still remember with pride and fondness your visit that day in 1983 and the wonderful exhibition match you had with local golfing hero Liam Higgins. Gone from this life but definitely not forgotten.
Ted Dwyer Family Business