The Club was born out of an original desire by a number of serving and retired Cavalry Officers to form a “Cavalry Officer’s Association” in 1944. The desire was to enable members of the Corps who had retired the service or would soon be de-mobbed after “The Emergency” to have contact with serving Cavalry Officers and, by extension, the Corps. The initial proposed objectives of the “Cavalry Officers Association” were:
To enable the Association members to keep in touch with each other by the organisation of social functions.
The promotion of the welfare of ex-members of the Cavalry Corps of all ranks
The founders entered into correspondence with the authorities and were eventually given permission in or around February 1946. The title of the Association was changed to “The Cavalry Club” on the suggestion of the then Director of Cavalry, Colonel A.T.Lawlor, who was fully supportive of the endeavor.
A number of committee meetings led to the first Annual General Meeting in the Clarence Hotel, Dublin on the 8 May 1946 and the following officers of the club were elected:
President : Comdt A. Mayne (Retd)
Chairman : Capt P.J. McHale (Retd)
Secretary : Lt J. Crowley
Treasurers : Capt L.N.Atchison (Retd), Capt A.I.Elliot (RO)
Members Lt J. Cleary (RO) Capt R.Collier
Members Lt F. Dwyer (RO) Lt J. Harrison (Retd)
Members Major RC. Byrne Lt Count O’Kelly (Retd)
This group wasted no time and declared at the AGM that the Gresham Hotel had been booked for a dance on 7 August in the middle of Horse show Week… the first Cavalry Ball, an event which became the social focus of that week for many years. The initial membership subscription was set at ten shillings and six-pence.
The founding members of the Cavalry Club are listed as Leslie N. Atchison, Jack Harrison, Sean Cleary, Pat McHale, Alex Elliot and Count O’Kelly. Indeed when the then D Cav wrote to the COS he enunciated “…the gentlemen mentioned all hold responsible positions. Mr Atchison is in the Bank of Ireland, College Green, Mr McHale is in the National Bank Ltd. College Green, and Mr Harrison is Assistant Manager and part owner of what is probably the largest monumental and stone-cutting establishment in the country.” The Club’s bank accounts were opened in the National Bank, College Green, now the Bank of Ireland, and remain there to this day.
The Cavalry Club is over 60 years of continuous existence and it was the forerunner for a number of other Corps-based Clubs which followed. The fact that it has survived is testament to a number of stalwarts and the overall support of those who pay their annual subscription. The situation remains somewhat similar today. As well as keeping the country’s social calendar thriving the early and consistent activities of the Club included the Treasure Hunt!! Imagine the consternation and wonderment caused on the quiet roads of Ireland by large numbers of Cavalrymen careering about in all sorts of four and two-wheeled vehicles. All of this as well as trying to decode the riddles penned in perfect rhyme by Owen Quinn.
The new millennium has brought many challenges to the Defence Forces and the Cavalry Corps. The Corps has had to bear its share of the dreaded “cutbacks” and has even had its most senior unit, the I Armd Car Sqn, and amalgamated with the 1 Tank Squadron to form the 1 Armoured Cavalry Squadron. The original idea behind the formation of the Cavalry Club is more relevant than ever as we mark the 80th Anniversary of the Cavalry Corps. All members are exhorted to support Club events, stay in contact with old comrades and keep an eye on the Club website for reports and news of forthcoming events.