Cricket heritage recalled in Durrow

Cricket returned to the green in Durrow yesterday for the first time in almost 100 years.

Cricket returned to the green in Durrow yesterday for the first time in almost 100 years.

Almost 60 schoolchildren from Durrow and Abbeyleix packed into Sheppards Auction House for a private viewing of the Ashbrook Union Cricket Club manuscript journal, which goes under the hammer on March 7.

The rare cricket journal is thought to be one of the earliest primary sporting records, apart from horse-racing. The journal was in Castle Durrow from 1846-1848, but the location of the manuscript is unknown until 1995, when it turned up in a skip and was sold at a car boot sale in Kildare. That person is now selling the book through Sheppards Auction House.

There were five cricket clubs within a three mile radius of Durrow at the close of the nineteenth-century. Cricket was last played locally in the 1930s. The manuscript, which has a reserve of €800 - €1,200, contains 174 pages and records scorecards for 70 games along with rules, fees and lists of members.

Among the famous names in the manuscript are John Parnell, father of Charles Stewart Parnell, who played on a Carlow team versus Durrow. He was also a founding member of the Phoenix club, one of the country’s oldest cricket clubs still in existence today.

“This is a slice of our local sporting heritage. Cricket was played on the green up to the 193’s and we want the local kids to be able to see this as it might never come back to Durrow again. They might even be descendants of some of the teams listed in the book,” Philip Sheppard said.

Following their private viewing, Cricket Ireland coaches organised a match on the village green.