Sport Golf

Thursday 13 December 2018

Obituary: Anne Tunney

Stalwart of ladies' golf was a dynamic organiser

ESTEEM: Anne Tunney
ESTEEM: Anne Tunney

Martin McCarthy

Anne Tunney, nee Bacon, was the Honorary Treasurer of the Irish Ladies' Golf Union (ILGU) when Ireland hosted its first ever European Ladies' Championship in 1979. Sunday Independent golf correspondent Dermot Gilleece rated this monumental undertaking - held in the Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan - as a career highlight for a capable, dynamic woman who went on to be President of the ILGU.

A fine sportswoman, she played golf off a three handicap and it was among the wide membership of the Irish Ladies' Golf Union, the oldest in the world, that she made her national mark - being its President in the centenary year of 1993-1994, having served earlier in many roles in her home club of Milltown GC and the ILGU. Her endless energy, superb diplomatic skills and ability to identify and deliver achievable goals on the long route to equality, helped greatly in improving the position of women's in golf in Ireland and the UK.

Anne was born on October 22, 1922 to Josie Dowley, who came from a prosperous Carrick-on-Suir merchant family, and Thomas Bacon, a Co Carlow-born but Dublin-based barrister, just as the transition from British rule was taking place. She grew up in Ballsbridge, one of four children, and attended school at the Sacred Heart Convent, Leeson Street. She wanted to do accountancy, but in an era when "father knew best", she was sent to Sion Hill to train as a teacher. She married Dick Tunney, whose military bearing came from his years as an Army Captain in Burma in World War II. Anne's father's wedding present to her was life membership of Milltown Golf Club, which she certainly made full use of. Dick was also a fine sportsman, representing Ireland in both tennis and squash in the late 1940s. He worked in the family stockbroking business until a serious accident ended his working life prematurely.

She cared for Dick at home while rearing her children until he died on Christmas Eve, 1978. She never complained about her lot but got on with her many roles. She was a council member of the Irish Ladies' Golf Union from 1971-1975 when she took up the position of Honorary Treasurer, where at last she could test her accounting skills over a 20-year period before being appointed President in 1993.

She guided the ILGU through its centenary celebrations with unerring diplomacy and composure. She was highly respected, was often consulted on many topics and was for years a significant voice in Irish golf.

Anne took the "whirlwind" approach to life, on and off the golf course, bringing multi-tasking to new levels. During one of the teachers' strikes in the 1960s, she decided to set up her own "hedge school" at home on Palmerstown Gardens, D6, to ensure her children, their cousins, as well as neighbours' and friends' children were being properly taught (by herself). She was a legendary baker, and golf teams up and down the country and sundry others relished her signature shortbread Madeira cake. Anne was Lady Captain of Milltown GC in 1965 and was on the Senior Cup winning team. She was one of only 13 people ever to have been elected to Honorary Membership, honoris causa of Milltown GC, in its 110-year history, such was the esteem in which she was held by the entire club - men and women.

She raised four children - Michael, Stephen, Rosemary and Hilary - and stayed very close to her siblings, Tommy, the late Lany and Mary (Murphy). She lived in St Anne's in Donnybrook until recent months and right up to her death on January 10 was forward-looking and interested in all aspects to the world, particularly the progress of Irish golfers and golfing.

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