The Early Years
The Early Years - 1864 - 1930
The Very Beginning 1864-1880
The first record of a club called Merrion playing cricket was in 1864. Anthony Morrissey in his excellent history of Civil Service Cricket Club writes that one Joe Doran scored the club's first 50, with 62 against Merrion on June 18th 1864. The club was comprised of a group of civil servants working in the old Church Temporalities Commission, later to be called The Land Commission. It only played friendly matches under the name Merrion Wanderers. Their club colours were Lincoln green and maroon, just as today. It had no ground of their own at first and played all of its home games at the IRFU grounds in Lansdowne Road. As a matter of interest all the senior teams only played friendly matches until 1919 against each other and visiting teams. Touring was a feature of teams in those days and the names of Woodenbridge, Newtownbarry and Coolattin feature in early records.
(DP: In 1879, an Irish touring team made up mainly of Phoenix players, played Merion G.C. on a USA tour - flag associated with them?)
(DP: 1864-1880 Played as Merrion Wanderers; 1881-1899 Land Commission; 1900-1905 Merrion Square (?); 1906 onwards as Merrion Cricket Club?)
The First League Campaigns - 1881-1900
In 1881 when the Land Commission was formed, the team, under Judge Bewley, started to play as the Irish Land Commission Cricket Club. They started playing in the Junior League and than entered the Irish Junior Cup which was first inaugurated in 1895. They won the cup 3 times in the first 5 years, 1897, 1899 and 1900. In 1900, Lord Bewley (presumably the judge was promoted) left the Land Commission and a more severe regime took over. Objections were made to the use of the Land Commission's name for a "sporting purpose" and their employees figuring in sporting events. The club withdrew from the league.
The New Beginning - 1900-1913
But nothing keeps us down for long and the club started playing friendlies again. Soon afterwards they approached the secretary of the Land Commission and secured permission to reform the club, which was granted providing the name was changed from the ILC. They chose "Merrion" after the Street on which their offices were situated. A small ground was obtained behind Mount Argus in Harold's Cross, where the club played for some years, before transferring to Mulally Fields on the South Circular Road, possibly near/or on the Player Wills site. The club continued to do well in Junior circles. 1906 was a very important year in club history. Membership was opened to other Government departments and the present grounds at Anglesea Road were secured under lease until 1950 when the club finally purchased the grounds. They were not very successful at first and we find the following comments in the Irish Field on 1st August 1908. "The Land Commission (they were still known by that name) is but a shadow of what it was some years ago." The club, however, continued to field 2 teams with varying degrees of success.
The "Great" War 1914-1918
Most of the members in those days were members of the Territorial Army and were called up in 1914. For the next four years the club had great difficulty fielding teams, but to their credit they continued playing with the help of some older members and also some schoolboys. It is good to note that this association with schoolboy cricketers has remained to this day. During the war about half the area of the ground was used as allotments with vegetables growing all around the pitch. NB On the side of the ground nearest Stephenson's. The pavilion was also on the Dunluce House side of the ground.
The Roaring Twenties 1919-1930
By 1919 the Club was still having difficulties in fielding their two teams. So it was decided to open up the membership to players who did not work in the Civil Service. This move proved very successful and the following year they were able to field three teams. It was this new contingent who set about repairing the ground and reviving the club. Merrion first team were promoted to the newly formed Intermediate league and the 2nd team to the Junior League in 1920. In 1920 the first team won 12 out of 18 matches, the second XI won 8 out of 14. The junior team also won the Junior Cup. The first team won the Intermediate League in 1923 , 1924 and 1925 and so were promoted in 1926 to play in the Senior League. The twenties saw the advent of some of the legends of Merrion - Rollie H. Shortt, Cecil J. Little and Jack A. O'Donnell. In 1930 a disastrous flooding of the River Dodder, the first of three major floods in the last century, submerged the pavilion and swept away the boundary wall, depositing rocks and silt across the ground. The enthusiasm of the members saved the day, as they were to do on two later occasions before the century finished.