Club History

In 1954 there was a revival of the traditional May Pilgrimage to the summit of Mount Brandon and quite a large number of people for the first time climbed a mountain. The experience appealed to some of the pilgrims and another outing was organised, this time to Carrauntohill. It was a success and it led to further climbs of a more or less casual nature. Inevitably the need for a formal structure was recognised and so, on the 10th of December 1954 in the T.C.L.S Hall at Day Place (now Ozanam House), the Tralee Mountaineering Club was formed. Connie Foley was the first Chairman and Sean Kelly the Secretary.

In those unhurried days the founder must have put a lot of thought into the Constitution adopted at the inaugural meeting because it has stood unaltered ever since with the one exception of the membership fee; it was originally 12.5p.

Our Club is the second oldest climbing club in Ireland The Irish Mountaineering Club with branches in Dublin and Belfast, being the first. Adventure sport in the 1950's was rare in Ireland and unheard of in rural areas yet the club prospered. It never attracted large numbers but has maintained a steady programme of outings right up to the present day. There were difficulties peculiar to the time, hardly any member owned a car so each outing required the hiring of a bus, that is, when bicycles did not suffice. Clothing and equipment for mountain use were not available and ex-army surplus from the recent World War was eagerly sought after. On the other hand every climb was new and full of the excitement of discovery. The old calendars show that a surprising variety and standard of outings were listed, not alone in Kerry but further afield. It says something for the broadness of vision of the club leaders that they were not obsessed by considerations of height only and so members got, and indeed still get, a wide choice of activities Boat trips to the islands, Bird-watching, cave exploring, visits to Castles and old mansions.

When the T.M.C. felt it should have an emblem many designs were considered and rejected. Some were too obscure and some too pretentious. Finally the furze was chosen as the most appropriate. This little shrub is praised for its blaze of summer glory and cursed when its fierce thorns tear at flesh and clothing. It brings little gain to the farmer whose fields are covered with its rampant growth. For most of us it symbolised what we found in the hills rugged beauty, the need to beware and just being there without a profit motive.

The Tralee Mountaineering Club in its outlook over the years has tried to get the most out of the homeland hills for the broadest possible section of people. By not preferring any particular aspect of the sport of mountaineering it has allowed and encourages members to partake in what best suited them be it the tougher ridges or the grassy hillocks, snow climbs or nature trails. Our mountain days have given us memories that are all the richer because they were widely shared and in retrospect, the quieter, humbler excursions seem no less to be valued than the bolder feats.

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