A Brief History of the Club (Interview from 2003)

A brief History of Phibsboro Chess Club

Established in 1954 Phibsboro will celebrate its 50th Anniversary next year. Like most such clubs it’s beginnings were fairly modest at 363 North Circular Road. In 54′ the membership was 8 or so. The First club secretary was Brendan Neville and founder members included Andrew O’Higgins, Jim Perkins and Art Coldrick.

Many of the original members were students of O’Connell School North Richmond street; indeed this is a connection from our longest serving member Tony Duffy (joined 1955) thought to current Irish Champion Stephen Brady and myself.

The first tournament entered was the Ennis shield (Division 2 at the time). This was eventually won in 1958, but it would be a very long time before we would add the top divisional title to this honor. The club moved to Dorset Street in 1956, which established a pattern of regular movement and the nick name the “nomadic club”.

In the 60’s the club ran an open tournament attracting over a 100 entries this is an impressive number compared with modern day turnouts. Also mention should be made of a certain Paul Hewson (Bono to those that don’t know) who played for us in the 70’s before departing for a music career. I have heard he has done quite well!

4 Irish champions have played for us over the years. Michael Littleton (2), Stephen Brady (4) Colm Daly (2) and Richard O’Donovan. Also Ray Cassidy represented Ireland in the famous Havana olympiad in 1966.

The Armstrong Cup was always an elusive quarry for Phibsboro. I joined the club in the mid 80’s, a time when Leinster chess was dominated by the Kevin Barry club. By the late 90’s we had finally put together a team that would really challenge but missed out on the last day more than once. Finally in the 2001/02 season we achieved this goal. A team captained by Kevin Butler won the league with a round to spare. To this title we added the National club championship and the Branagan cup a nice hat trick of trophies.

We retained the title this season and we will be sending a team to the European club championship for the first time. Like all chess clubs Phibsboro faces challenges to keep it’s membership going. Rising rents and the modern Ireland don’t always help, but in the time I have been in the club the standard of play has improved greatly and hopefully it will continue to do so for another 50 years!

by Kieran English in coversation with Tony Duffy, Art Coldrick and Brendan Neville (2003)