Irish Real Tennis Association

Press Release: 19 Sept 2016

In a decision published this week, An Bord Pleanala has directed that the state-owned Real Tennis court building on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin be brought back to a playable condition. Real Tennis is the original sport which became modern lawn tennis, and the Dublin court is an important part of Ireland's sporting heritage. It was built in 1885, hosted the world championships in 1890, and was given to the Irish State in 1939. An Bord Pleanala notes that it is “the only building of its type in Ireland”, and writes that “its full restoration to a fit for purpose Real Tennis Court is an honourable ambition”. The Irish Real Tennis Association strongly welcomes the decision, and looks forward to the people of Ireland being able to play and enjoy Real Tennis, and witness part of our sporting heritage through visiting the building.

The direction regarding the Real Tennis court is part of the decision of An Bord Pleanala (PL 29S.246621) to grant planning permission for The National Children’s Science Centre on a site on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin, to include the Real Tennis court building. The Irish Real Tennis Association welcomes this permission; the Science Centre will undoubtedly be an important addition to the educational and cultural fabric of the Irish State.

An Bord Pleanala's decision requires the developer to “submit a detailed proposal to the planning authority for the temporary re-instatement of the penthouse galleries and any other essential features required for playing Real Tennis matches.” The IRTA looks forward to working together with Dublin City Council, the Office of Public Works, and The National Children’s Science Centre to restore the Real Tennis court to its intended purpose.


Exterior of the Dublin Court
Exterior of Dublin Court
The Irish Real Tennis Association exists to promote the sport of Real Tennis in Ireland.

Our main focus is currently the restoration of the Dublin court. This court was built in 1885 by Sir Edward Guinness, and hosted the 1890 world championship. It was played on until 1939, when it was bequeathed to the Irish State, to be used as a real tennis court. Sadly, this wish was not followed, and the court is not currently playable.

We are working vigorously towards the return of the Earlsfort Terrace court to play. If you would like more information regarding progress, please contact us at

We also make frequent trips to the UK to introduce newcomers to the sport, and to allow existing enthusiasts to play.

For more information on the current situation of the Court, see the Dublin Court page.

The site RealTennis.TV is regularly updated with video of Real Tennis being played, including live streaming of major events.

Recent news:

  • Congratulations to IRTA players Roland Budd and Derek O'Sullivan, who met in a semi-final of the 2016 Bar Real Tennis Championship. Budd then moved on to the final, but was defeated by Oliver Wise. Many thanks to Derek O'Sullivan for organising the event, and to The Oratory and Hardwick House for hosting.
  • Results of 2016 Closed championship: Congratulations to singles champion Roland Budd and to doubles champions Roland Budd and Mark Keogh! [September 2016]
  • Results of 2016 Open championship: Congratulations to singles champion Derek O'Sullivan and to doubles champions Alex Foix and Tony Penny! [June 2016]
  • Planning application relating to Dublin Real Tennis Court [ongoing]
  • IRTA's 2012 Business Plan: We are publishing this document, which up to now has had limited circulation to give background and context to the work it was doing at an earlier stage of discussions with the OPW.
  • Historical (1747) reference to Tennis Court in Wicklow: A 'to let' notice in the Dublin Journal of 31 January, 1747 refers to a farm near Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow having 'two profitable Gardens one of them walled in with a large Tennis-Court'. Thanks to David Best for bringing this to our attention.
  • Brigands Tournament 2015: IRTA pair Roland Budd and Jack Woods unbeaten, but fail to progress from group stage. [September 2015]
  • Results of 2015 Irish Closed championship: Congratulations to singles champion Chris Herbert and to doubles champions Mark Heffernan and Rupert Derham! [September 2015]
  • Results of 2015 Open championship: Congratulations to singles champion Emmanuel Joffrin and to doubles champions Rustom Manecksha and Jack Woods! [June 2015]

How you can help: The more members we have, the stronger the case for restoring the Dublin court to play will be. If you would like one day to play on Dublin's historic court, please consider joining the IRTA to support our campaign. A membership form is available on the contact details page. Thank you.