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Civil Service Cricket Club - From the Beginning
Written by Anthony Morrissey. Published 19th February 2006.

Civil Service Cricket Club was first conceived in the Spring of 1863. One George Howard, or to give him his full title, His Excellency Mr George William Frederick Howard, Earl of Carlisle, K.G., P.C., Lord Lieutenant-General and General Governor of Ireland, donated to the Club the ground which it occupies to this day, and as such he must be regarded as one of the prime movers in the founding and establishment of the Civil Service Club.

The Earl of Carlisle, ensconsed as he was in the Vice Regal Lodge, (now of course Aras an Uachtarain), must have been thrilled to get a break from interminable Court Banquets (the Misses Belmont in particular seemingly never missed a function in Dublin Castle), tedious inspections of military installations, and above all the endless attempts at placating the wild Irish. Howard was clearly something out of the ordinary for a man of his rank, being notable for introducing the first Womens' Suffrage Bill in 1851.

The Earl's donation of the ground was a generous act, though in fairness he could well afford the gesture - he already had his own cricket ground in the Vice-Regal Lodge. It was there, suitably enough, that Civil Service Cricket Club fulfilled its first ever fixture, turning out a team of twenty two against an eleven of the Vice-Regal's, as Howard's team was called, on Saturday 25th April 1863.

Under the grandiose heading "Sporting Intelligence" the Dublin Evening Post of Tuesday 28th April 1863 noted that "the first match of the season on the Vice-Regal grounds was played .... between eleven of the Vice-Regal and twenty two of the Civil Service Cricket Club. The Civil Service is but recently formed but it includes some very good members, and the Lord Lieutenant, in order to encourage games of this kind, graciously gave his permission that the match be played on the Vice-Regal ground. In the evening a vast number of carriages passed the ground containing the rank and beauty of the metropolis. His Excellency Himself, in order to acknowledge the interest which he feels in athletic games of this kind, kept the score."

The Vice Regal XI. Courtesy National Library
Shot crica 1880 on the front lawn of the Vice Regal Lodge (now Aras an Uachtarain)

The scores were - Vice-Regal's 104, CSCC XXII 59 and 44. Civil Service were always a little rusty at the start of a new season, but given that the Lord Lieutenant was responsible for The Army and the Public Service perhaps the Civil Service Twenty two, in not wishing to trouble the scorer, did not quite play to their abilities.

Arthur Samuels, in his 'Early Cricket in Ireland' published in 1888, had reported that in 1855, during a match at Phoenix, "we observed an officer riding in great haste to the Pavilion where his Excellency, Earl Carlisle, was sitting, as usual, keeping the score." The Earl brought the message he received straight out to the middle and "taking off his hat, asked us to give three cheers, as he held in his hand the announcement of the fall of Sebastopol I never witnessed such excitement before...."

Cricket in general at this time, and Leinster cricket in particular, was very much in its infancy. Sport in those days revolved around the racecourses and the regattas, and the serious cricket fixture was the annual Gentlemen of Ireland Vs I.Zingari match. I Zingari were and are a famous and well established English side, and this match was usually played at the Vice-Regal's, sometimes commanding crowds of 3,000.

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