Home » Breaking News » Clare man comes up trumps with Bridge award
Danny Liddy of Crusheen who was presented with Contract Bridge Association of Ireland President’s Award. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare man comes up trumps with Bridge award

AFTER many years of involvement in the promotion and administration of the game, Danny Liddy was named 2021 winner of the Contract Bridge Association of Ireland’s President’s Award.
It’s a prestigious honour for the genial and modest Crusheen man, who has helped bring the pleasure of bridge into many Clare people’s lives. 
Danny began playing back in 1986, and soon developed a huge love of the game. “We used to play Solo (another card game) with Marie and Gerry Kennedy, lord have mercy on Gerry. In the course of playing that game one night we were watching the television, and there was a thing on bridge. From that we decided we’d go to bridge classes and it was like a drug after that. We were hooked on it. Gerry was my first partner, we went to classes and that’s where it went from.”
He was delighted with this new passion. “Our mentor at the time was a man called Jim Whyms, Lord have mercy on him. He set up a club straight after our classes finished. The Bridge Centre in Ennis had just opened at the time, and he set up a new club for beginners and intermediate players. We joined straight away and we used to play once a week.To feed the habit!”
He says he is still learning about the game all these years later, as is everyone who plays it. “The first year I was doing it I thought that everyone who was playing it two years knew everything. When I was playing two years I thought everyone playing three years knew everything. Thirty five years later I know that nobody knows everything.”
What he feels sets bridge apart is how the element of luck is taken out. “If you take the game of poker, if you got a Royal Flush in every hand you’d be nearly guaranteed to win every hand. But in Bridge, the element of luck is minimised. The exact hand you play is played at every other table, and you’re comparing with the other people in the room, or if you’re playing in a national competition or online you’re comparing with people all over the country.”
Not long after learning to play himself, Danny started bringing other people into the game, sharing his love for it with them. “I never intended doing classes. The man that prompted me to start was John Brigdale. When I talked to John he’d always enquire about the bridge before he’d started playing. I suggested to John he should go to classes in Ennis. With that, I offered to give him a start, I was a novice, hardly a wet week out of classes myself, but I said I’d give him a sample of what it was about if he came over to the house. John came to my house and next thing we’d eight people around the table.”
His enthusiasm and ability to bring people into the game were underline by his role in the formation of a new group for those starting out playing bridge. “We started a Friday night club for beginners, Margaret Cooney was County President at the time. We both started the Harmony Club on Friday night and it was they that proposed me for the award. Danny Dillon came in to mentor on the Fridays. Normally when you play your game of cards you’d be on your own, but I came across this idea at one of the national meetings for mentoring, there’d be someone available and you could call them to the table and say I’ve difficulty with this hand. We thought it was a novel idea, so we worked on that and had a mentor there every Friday night for the first year or two. We had volunteers for it, Danny did it, Kitty Quinn did it, Margaret Cooney did it, we had a group of people who did it. It helped to give people confidence to start. The club is flourishing now, Veronica Fitzgerald was the first president and we’ve had great presidents.”
He jokes that bridge is better than a pension scheme, with it being one of few pastimes where older people can compete with their younger counterparts. “It gives people a focus and something to do. In most games the elderly can’t compete with the young, but in Bridge they can. “
Danny feels few other interests are as consuming. “Unless you go for counselling you won’t be cured! It frightens people, the addiction they see in people, they’d say look how that one turned out, but there’s worse addictions. During the lockdown my wife Muriel and myself played online, we were playing three nights a week. One of us would be in the High Court for murder if we didn’t have something! There’s a woman in Ennis Annie Leyden, she was 93, and I remember the trouble she’d go to to go out and play Bridge.”
As a player himself he won the All Ireland Senior Pairs title with Mary Rogers, while with Marie Kennedy, Michael Healy and Tom Dixon he was part of a Clare side that won the 4-Fun inter county team event. 
Of course the pandemic put a halt to bridge as it had been played, Danny found at least some respite through playing over the internet. “Being online is not the same, you don’t have that personal contact. But it keeps your hand in.”
Danny is very grateful to Ann Troy and Ann Daly of the Harmony Club in Ennis who nominated him for the award, and for its presentation he was actually lured in by telling him an award was being given to another man. “I was in shock anyway, I never in a thousand years expected it. There’s an awful lot of people even locally who’ve done an awful lot more than me,” he says, with characteristic modesty.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.