The History of Irish Tennis

The History of Irish Tennis

Celebrating the 120th Anniversary of the Golden Era of Irish Tennis this unique book is now available at a special discounted price of €60 while stocks last.

In 3 volumes, with over 1800 pages, this hard back A4, limited edition, contains 42 chapters and sub chapters, over 3000 photographs and illustrations and is probably the most comprehensive book ever written on any nations tennis history.



The History of Irish Tennis Volume 1
This volume contains four main chapters in an A4 format of over 600 pages. One deals with sport in Ireland and the role of tennis. The second looks at the development of the game with some interesting Irish components. Tennis as a social sport is dealt with in detail in the third chapter with topics here varying from the family game to romance to tennis writings. The final chapter is the largest looking at the organisation of the game, detailing the game at club and national level, as well as relevant sub-chapters on schools and university tennis.

The History of Irish Tennis Volume 2
One of the strengths of this book is the balance between facts, photographs, sketches and a range of anecdotes from hundreds of sources. In this volume, competitions are dealt with in 15 different sub-chapters, with such topics as the Irish at Wimbledon to Veterans’ tennis. There are many surprising findings. Did you know we have Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open champions and that Ireland’s first Olympic Gold medals were won, for tennis, by a Dubliner. There are over 700 pages in this volume, the Who’s Who section is exhaustive.

The History of Irish Tennis Volume 3
Volume 3 deals with a range of eclectic topics on Irish tennis such as fashions, equipment and umpires and also a section dealing with the players and clubs in the north west.This unique three-volume set of books (approximately 1800 pages) includes over 90 pages of colour photographs and several thousand photos in total. The book is in A4 hard-backed format and is a limited print run. It is still available from a number of shops and clubs, including Sligo Tennis Club, the home club for author Tom Higgins.

 Further information on



The summer of 1890 saw the beginnings of a great era in Irish tennis. The world of tennis was ruled by some of Ireland’s greatest, yet most forgotten, sportspeople. At that time the Irish Championships were considered to be more difficult to win than Wimbledon, such was the standard of the game on this island. While four of the five Irish titles in 1890 (held at Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club) went to home players, it was at Wimbledon that we made our exceptional mark. Lena Rice from Tipperary won the ladies’ championship and Willoughby Hamilton the men’s championship. To top this, the men’s doubles title was won by Joshua Pim and Frank Stoker from Dublin. Stoker also played international rugby for Ireland and was a cousin of Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. Wimbledon had no ladies’ doubles or mixed championships until 1913. Both Pim (1893 and 1894) and Harold Mahony (1896) also won the Wimbledon singles, the latter in a record of 57 games for a Wimbledon final.

The summer of 1890 saw Kilkenny’s Mabel Cahill reach the US championship All-Comer’s final. In addition to winning this title in both 1891 and 1892, Mabel won both doubles titles in these years. She is the only Irish player to have been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

In the years that followed there have been many successes of note. John Pius Boland won Ireland’s first gold medals in the Athens Olympics of 1896. In 1900 Mahony won all three gold medals for tennis at the Paris Olympics.He died tragically at 38 in a bicycle accident near his home in Killorglin, County Kerry. Jim Parke of Clones became Australasian (1912) and European singles champion (1914). Their detailed stories are among the many found in the book.

1890 – The Golden Year of Irish Tennis:

Wimbledon Championships:

Mens Singles Champion:  Willoughby Hamilton (IRL)
Ladies Singles Champion: Lena Rice (IRL)

Mens Doubles Champion: Joshua Pim (IRL) and Frank Stoker (IRL)
US Open

Ladies Singles All-Comers finalist: Mabel Cahill (IRL)
What they say about The History of Irish Tennis:

“Tom Higgins has produced an extraordinary book and Irish tennis is fortunate to have it. It will be read, enjoyed and admired for many years to come.”
Conor Niland, National Number 1.

“Brilliant and, for anyone interested in Irish tennis, quite unputdownable.”
Geraldine Barniville, former Federation Cup player.

“If there was ever a book that was a labour of love this is it…extraordinary.”
George Hook, broadcaster.

“(the) fascinating history that was almost lost forever.”
The Sunday Times


UK price   £50

European:  €85

Rest of World  €100

Where to buy the book

Tennis Clubs
Carrickmines Croquet & Lawn Tennis Club (Pat Crowe)
Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club
Galway Lawn Tennis Club
Limerick Lawn Tennis Club
Mount Pleasant Lawn Tennis Club
Sligo Tennis Club
Sunday’s Well Boating and Lawn Tennis Club

Bookshops (other bookshops can order copies)
Barker & Jones, Naas.
Book Centre, Kilkenny.
Book Centre, Waterford.
Book Centre, Wexford.
Book Nest, Sligo.
Bookworm, Thurles.
Bridge Street Books, Wicklow.
Castle Bookshop, Castlebar.
Hampton Books, Morehampton Road, Dublin.
Hanna’s Bookshop, Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin.
Liber Bookshop, Sligo.
Maynooth Bookshop
O’Mahony’s Bookshop, Limerick.
Tennis Gallery, Wimbledon.
The Book Nook, Cashel.
The Bookshop, Nenagh.
The Rathgar Bookshop, Dublin.

Other Sources
George Stevenson c/o Bangor TC 028 91452408
Lyn Jamison c/o Portadown TC 028 38333806