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Clare and Irish international golfer, Aideen Walsh at Dromoland Castle ahead of the 2022 KPMG Women’s Irish Open. Photograph by ©INPHO/James Crombie

Eamonn’s quest for Dromoland legacy with Women’s Open teed up

Champion Chatter Podcast

It cannot be attributed to luck. Everywhere Eamonn O’Donnell goes, success follows. The Dungarvan man holds the role of Director of Golf at Dromoland Castle Golf Club as he continues to leave a lasting impression.

He has spent over three and a half years in his current role, helping to plant the seeds for Dromoland Castle hosting the KPMG Women’s Irish Open, which he hopes will leave a lasting legacy behind.

Despite trying to spread the praise, O’Donnell’s role in ensuring the venue will host this event, which is being held for the first time since 2012, cannot be understated.

“I first met Mark Nolan (Managing Director at Dromoland Castle) three and a half years ago. Himself and the Board of Directors were eager to host a major golf event and roughly six to nine months after that I mentioned the possibility of hosting this event.

“We held discussions behind the scenes and the next stop was contacting the Ladies European Tour, Sports Ireland and Golf Ireland. It’s great for us to get the event back on the calendar.”

“This has been two and a half years in the making. We are delighted to be at the forefront of this at a time where women’s sport is continuing to grow. In 20 years’ time we hope this event has gone from strength to strength and that we can look back and say we played a part in the rebuild of this event.”

His experience is vast having worked in the golf sector for over 20 years. After spending the Summer of 2002 working at Maidstone Golf Club in Long Island, New York, and 12 months obtaining further experience when working at Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey, it is fair to say that O’Donnell has experienced a lot during his time in this industry.

The Director of Golf has no shortage of experience having worked in Adare Manor from 2005 until the end of 2008. He helped in the hosting of the JP McManus Pro Am while he also witnessed the Irish Opens of 2007 and 2008 at Adare Manor.

O’Donnell’s passion for the sport has seen him work with Mount Wolseley Golf Club in Carlow, Waterford Castle and Wicklow’s Druids Glen as he states himself that his journey within the industry has seen him come “full circle”.

“My first job was caddying at the Old Head in Kinsale and getting Summer work there. That’s where I was introduced to the Irish market and international guests. Adare Manor was my first full time job. Between the Pro Am in ’05 and the Irish Open in ’07 and ’08, it was a learning curve. I was finding my feet there.”

“With Waterford Castle we had a hard working team but it was a tough time with the hotel put into receivership by NAMA. Dromoland is a five star hotel so that does offer a bigger budget but that means you have to meet expectations.

“I feel that I’ve come full circle, being back in the West of Ireland and hopefully the hard work everybody has put in will come to fruition.”

So, what does the role of Director of Golf entail?

“I’m helping to put the pieces of the jigsaw together. In the hospitality industry we want the members and visitors to be catered for from the beginning, so my role is to work with the different teams to ensure we do that from a golfing perspective.”

“I work closely with Paul Coleman (Course Superintendent) to ensure that everything is running smoothly. A lot of meetings, especially in the past few weeks but hopefully it all comes together in two weeks.”

One noticeable theme of the interview, is how the Dungarvan man continuously praises his colleagues especially Paul Coleman. With more people set to be drafted in to help ensure the course is in pristine condition for all four days of the event, O’Donnell continually focuses on the collective

“We normally have a team of 16 to 20 greenkeepers and four to six gardeners. We will probably have 30 to 35 people on the course the week of the event with late evenings preparing for the following day. There is a big logistical element to this but Paul Coleman and his team have worked extremely hard. We hope to see the fruits of our labour after the event.”

O’Donnell hopes this event can take not just Dromoland Castle to new heights but that it can also help showcase the best of what the county has to offer. He admits that the pressure is on to deliver with a global audience watching.

“This could take Dromoland Castle to another level. To host an international event that is part of one of the biggest Tours in the world is great. The butterflies are kicking in and the anticipation is growing. We hope our hard work pays off.”

“For us the messaging was what can this event bring to the region? It is very important not to just look at this from a Dromoland point of view. This is a big boost to Shannon and people visiting the region will increase.

“With The Cliffs of Moher and The Burren, Clare has great facilities and towns with plenty to offer. All eyes will be focused on Clare so we are very excited for this great event.”

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