There is shock on the Donegal sports and tourism landscapes this week following confirmation that Otway Golf has closed down.
Otway, first registered to the Golfing Union of Ireland in 1893 and with a history dating back to 1870, was one of the oldest clubs in Ireland.
Since the club’s annual general meeting on January 18, there had been fears for its future.
And now, club officials have confirmed the closure, due to ‘ongoing leasing difficulties that could not be resolved’.
An official from the Golfing Union of Ireland visited the club last week but no progress was achieved, John McAteer reports in today’s Tirchonaill Tribune.
One of Ireland’s five oldest and most renowned golf clubs, Otway overlooks Lough Swilly and is about two and a half miles from Rathmullan on the edge of the Knockalla Coast Road.
The vast majority of the membership has now joined either Letterkenny or Portsalon clubs and all that remains at Otway is to wind up the affairs of the picturesque links club.
Club officials said the closing down procedure was ‘a delicate matter’ at this stage since they are in the process of appointing a liquidator to realise their assets on lands they do not own.
The Club has drawn tourists and golfers from far and wide to play the unique nine-hole course since it first opened and is set against the Inishowen Hills and Mackamish Fort in the foreground.
Only last June the Club marked its 125th anniversary as GUI Members and the future seemed bright as they marked this milestone with a series of successful events. However, underneath the surface there were ‘ongoing and unresolved difficulties’, said a club member this week.
“These difficulties finally forced us to consider our position at the AGM and we did our best to get a comprise: not only for the golfers but for the benefit of wider community. Unfortunately, we were not in a position to continue as things stood and our closure, while deeply regretted, was inevitable in the circumstances,’ said a senior club official last night.
It has now emerged that the Otway committee had been unable to apply for or accept grants of any kind without a minimum five-year lease in place.
A spokesperson said they were allocated a sports grant of €7,500 last year which remained unused in the prevailing circumstances.