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 these remarks, 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 the Science Centre, although the use of the Real Tennis Court for purposes other than real tennis is disappointing and contrary to the wishes of the donor. We continue to work towards the playing of real tennis in this historic court, in the context of the An Bord Pleanála decision.

An Bord Pleanála'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.

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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.