Reddan (nee Tiernan), Clarrie 1916-2007

Irish Ladies Championship: winner 1936, runner-up 1946 and 1948

British Ladies Championship: runner-up 1949

New Jersey State Championship: winner 1937

Canadian Open Championhship: runner-up 1938

Curtis Cup: 1938 and 1948

Irish International : 1935 to 1939,1947,1948, 1949 and 1955

Leitrim Cup: 1939, 1947,1948,1949 and 1953

Clarrie’s swing sequence using stop-motion photography was published in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News on the 8 July 1938 and is reproduced below. As the article pointed out , Clarrie took the ball on the outside of her left foot contrary to accepted teaching, even now. Using the palm grip, preferred by most lady golfers at the time, she achieved a good position at the top of the back swing despite a slightly shut clubface and the position near impact was, according to the article, excellent. The right hand takes over at impact to generate the power in the shot. While flawed, the results, given her standing as the best Irish lady golfer just before the war, are irrefutable.

Born Clarrie Tiernan near the village of Baltray on the 3 July 1916 she first came to prominence in 1935 when, at the prestigous Worplesdon Mixed Foursomes, she and her partner made it through to the fifth round. In 1936 Clarrie won the Irish Ladies’ Championship in Ballybunion and while travelling to the US the following year, won the New Jersey State Championship.

Clarrie Tiernan was the person considered most likely to take Janet Jackson’s throne. Patrick Campbell in his Irish Times articles; “Round Ireland with a Golf Bag”, written in 1936, played with Clarrie on his visit to the County Louth Golf Club, affectionately know as Baltray. Clarrie quickly addressed any preconceived notions he might have had about women’s golf by casually playing the course in seventy-six strokes. It was customary to believe that the equalisation of male and female golfers required nine shots and Campbell figured he would have lost the match at the tenth if he were to give this fourball opponent that cushion. Clarrie won her native title later that year but Campbell, who was no slouch at the game either, felt it wasn’t a matter of when her reign would start but how long it would last.

In 1938 Clarrie was selected for the Curtis Cup team to play the US at the Essex Country Club in Massachusetts where she won both her matches, securing the only victory in the singles for the GB&I team with a 2 and 1 win over Maureen Orcutt. In the same year Clarrie lost her third round match in the US Ladies’ Amateur Championship.

War broke out when Clarrie was just beginning to peak and as a result, many believe, she never achieved her true potential and in 1944 her victory in the Leinster Championship was to be her first of many confrontations with Philomena Garvey.

In 1946 the Irish Championship was re-instated and Clarrie was in the classic duel with Philomena Garvey at Lahinch but one she eventually lost by a stymie on the 39th hole but not before making a near miraculous comeback from being six down with nine holes left to play. They were to meet again on three further occasions in the Championship, in 1947 Clarrie lost her semi-final match to Phil on the 19th and lost to her again in 1948 in the finals and later in 1962 in an earlier round when the Championship was played at Baltray.

In 1947 Clarrie played the legendary Mildred “Babe” Zaharias at the British Amateur in Gullane but nobody could deny the long hitting Texas girl her victory that year. By the 1950s Clarrie had very much scaled back her involvement in competitive golf. Despite this, Clarrie had won the Leitrim Cup, the strokeplay curtain-raiser to the Irish Championship, so many times that by 1953 she won it outright and it had to be replaced for the 1954 championship.

Probably Clarrie’s greatest achievement was in 1949 as runner-up to Frances Stephens in the British Ladies’ Amateur Championship. The previous year she was selected again for the Curtis Cup team which was played at Royal Birkdale but herself and Maureen Ruttle lost to Estelle Lawson Page and Dorothy Kielty. Clarrie wasn’t selected for the singles although felt that the blame for the foursomes loss had been mis-directed. Clarrie’s biggest single victory was in the third round of the British Amateur in 1938 when she beat the legendary, Miss Pam Barton by 5 and 3, the following year she was the first on the green to congratulate Miss Barton on her win at Royal Portrush.

At club level Clarrie was lady captain of the County Louth Golf Club in 1935 and 1946 and held eight Senior Cup winners medals for 1946,47,48,49, 53,57,62 and 1965. Clarrie represented her country for eight years (1935,36,38,39; 1947-49 and 1955) in the Home Internationals.