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HISTORY OF ST HELENS BAY GOLF RESORT 18 HOLE GOLF COURSE

1.
St Helen: St Helen was the mother of Constantine, the first Christian to be Roman Emperor. Reputed to be involved in the finding of the True Cross in Jerusalem in 335 A.D., her Feast Day is on August 18th. Devotion to her was brought to this area by the Normans.


 
2.
Walton’s Wish: Philip Walton, one of Ireland’s best ever amateur golfers and currently enjoying a very successful professional career has had a major input into the design and layout of this course. He particularly likes the long uphill fairway and entrance to this hole.


 
3.
Tuskar Rock: A major hazard to mariners in the days of sail when its dangerous reputation was well founded. Situated on the direct route from America to Liverpool, the wrecks in this vicinity lie two and three deep, as a lasting reminder of the power of the sea. The light was erected in 1815, ten men having earlier lost their lives, in 1812, while working on the project. It was here that the father of Winston Churchill, Lord Randolph Churchill, on a yachting cruise, landed and enjoyed a liquid repast with the lighthouse men in the 1880’s.


 
4.
The Tunnel: This hole derives its name from the entrance to the green, which has been excavated to give a valley effect for your 2nd shot on to a very big green, having played your drive through the opening in the ‘Famine Walls’.


 
5.
The Pilgrimage: Closely connected with Lough Derg, in Co. Donegal, Our Lady’s Island – just a few miles from St Helen’s, has been a place of pilgrimage since the twelfth century and probably much earlier. One can still see the old castle ruin there which leans at a greater angle than the Tower of Pisa. It was the property of Rudolph de Lamporte who was killed, as a Crusader, at the Battle of Hattin in 1184. The pilgrimage season extends annually, over the three weeks following August 15th.


 
6.
Yola: the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, colonized immediately after the Anglo-Normans invasion of 1169, became quickly well established. Isolated from the rest of the country, during the Irish revival, this created a Wexford ‘Pale’. This isolation led to the development of a distinctive dialect based on Middle English and Irish. This dialect, known as Yola, continued to be spoken in the Barony of Forth until about 1850, and occasional dialect words can still be heard.


 
7.
Cronigen-(Ballycronigen): The name of the local townsland which has a large period house using the same name.


 
8.
Carnsore: The extreme south-east corner of Ireland, Carnsore Point was called ‘Hieron Akron’ or “the Sacred Cape”, by Ptolemy, the Egyptian cartographer, writing in 140 A.D., in reference to the pagan rites practised there by the Celtic Druids. This area is still a stronghold of the ancient mime play of ‘mumming’.


 
9.
Famine Walls: During the Great Famine of 1845-48 many relief schemes were set up to enable people to earn enough money to buy food. Works included land drainage and the building of quays, roads and walls. Many of the stone walls in the country owe their origin to this period.


 
10.
Barony of Forth: Co. Wexford is divided into eight baronies, some of which were formed in the sixteenth century, but others, such as Forth, in the south-east corner date from much earlier Celtic tribal divisions. Geographically isolated, Forth and neighbouring Bargy became known as ‘The English Baronies’. Much of the unique culture, typified by castle and windmill, which developed within these baronies, still survives.


 
11.
Cromwell’s Bay: The trauma of Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland in 1649 still survives in the folk memory. After the capture of Wexford town his soldiers attacked many castles in the county, including Ballyhealy, near Kilmore Quay. Most of the landowners lost their possessions and were ordered ‘to hell or Connaught’.


 
12.
Ballyhire Castle: During the Irish recovery of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the descendants of the Anglo-Norman settlers were forced to construct defended residences for themselves. These usually took the shape of small castles, like Ballyhire, with various defensive features, such as battlements, slit windows, musket loops, murdering holes and machicolations. About Seventy of these castles, known as tower houses, survive in Co. Wexford.


 
13.
The Piers: In the 17th and 18th centuries stone piers usually signalled the entry to land owned by the gentry. The piers on this hole marked the entry to the lands of the Ballyhire Estate. They present an interesting challenge for the golfer.


 
14.
Four Winds: No coastal site in Ireland is free from the activities of variable prevailing winds. So it is with St Helen’s and the strong southerly and south-westerlies which invariable blow in the area present a stiff challenge to the golfer.


 
15.
Rackard’s Drive: The three Rackard brothers are to the great Irish field game of hurling that Pele is to soccer. All three were among the greatest ever exponents of the ancient game. The youngest brother Billy previously owned this land and built a successful Par 3 golf course on the site now incorporated in this course. The Rackard name is synonymous with sporting success in County Wexford.


 
16.
The Wishing Well: Prior to ‘tap water’ and the village pump was the ‘well’ in the field. Local houses were serviced from this well, indeed steps led up from the beach to the well at one stage. Good springs were a valuable asset in 19th century Ireland and well water has many significant properties.


 
17.
Splaugh Rock: The south-east coast of Wexford with its many off-shore rocks and shoals has always been notoriously dangerous for shipping. Splaugh Rock, just off St Helen’s, is one of the largest rocks. The area around the rock is a well known fishing ground.


 
18.
Pirates Cove: “Crew all from Bannow, Fethard and The Hook, Sailing in The Lowlands Low.” Incidents of pirates and privateers about in this area, especially on the Saltee Islands whose location in the busy shipping lanes made it the ideal base. It was frequented by maritime adventurers of many nations, and the local fishermen supplemented their meagre income by frequent involvement in the contraband activities. During the American War of Independence the great John Paul Jones pursued British shipping off south Wexford and took many prizes off the Saltees. The well known sea ballad ‘The Lowlands Low’, by P J McCall, gives a flavour of these adventurous times


 
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