Local History of Beech Park

Long before Beech Park was born, the land we now play golf on consisted of a parcel of land of approximately 120 acres, that was originally a part of the Johnstown Kennedy Estate. The estate was bought by or granted to Sir John Charles Kennedy around 1750. It comprised 382 acres on which he built a three-storey Georgian house. The estate had 60 acres in timber and a three-acre walled garden producing large amounts of fruit and vegetables for the household. The house had three large bay windows, five reception rooms, seven large bedrooms and six additional rooms.

As was the practice at the time, a date-stone was installed in the north-wall of the house. This stone was retrieved from the demolished remains of the house and placed in the new entrance wall which can be seen behind the 15th tee. There were five estate cottages and lodges built on the estate. The most recent was built on the Punchestown Road in 1879.

In 1812 there were two ponds dug on the estate and in 1830 the owner built a canal connecting these two ponds. The canal is approximately 1,000 yards long, starting at the 13th green and finishing on the right-hand-side of the 11th fairway. The depth of the canal varies from about 3 ft. to 6 ft. along its length. The granite seat which is in front of the ladies locker room, was recovered from one of the ponds by our former Captain, Jimmy Duggan and planted there for posterity. The old salt-grinding stone, situated beside the granite seat, has been around for about 150 years.

Legend has it that the favourite daughter of the household was granted her wish to have an avenue of 16 lime trees planted to commemorate her sixteenth birthday. The trees were planted along what was the main entrance avenue to the demesne, leading to the house. This avenue ran between what is now our 11th green and 12th tee, and then over the stone bridge to the main area of the course. It is said that on her death in 1939, one tree fell. The gap where one tree is missing is clearly visible.

There are three old stone French-drains carrying water off the course. Two of these run from the ditch on the right of the 5th fairway into the canal on the right of the 13th fairway. The third drains water from the right of the 18th fairway into the drainage ditch on the 5th and thence to the canal. All of our mature beech trees appear on an 1830 map of the area. This gives an idea of their great age. The upright granite stone in the middle of the 1st fairway was called a “scratching stone”. As much of the stone is set below the ground as is visible above.

The mortal remains of members of the Kennedy family are to be found in the old churchyard in Rathcoole village. A window in the Church of Ireland, Rathcoole, is dedicated to the memory of one descendant, John Kennedy (1785 – 1848). One of John’s sons became Justice of the Peace for Dublin and Chief Magistrate for Rathcoole. We can only imagine what the Nobility, seated at breakfast in the great house, would think if they were to see us playing up the 14th fairway in full view of their stately home. What many think of as a drainage ditch on the right of the 14th fairway, is in fact a “Ha Ha”. This design feature of many grand, stately gardens was to ensure that any servant or animal could pass the front of the house without being seen by the gentry residing therein.

Beech Park Golf Club would like to acknowledge the extensive research undertaken by our Past Captain Noel Shannon.