Polo ground debate put to rest in a chicken and egg situation for Ireland and Malta

AN article featuring the future King Charles III circa 1969 when he was presented with a trophy by the Princess Royal at Malta Polo Club has, perhaps inadvertently, put to rest a debate of more than three years after reaching its pivotal point during the just-ended Irish polo season.

The then Prince of Wales accepting a trophy from the Princess Royal, one year after his centennial visit to Malta Polo Club

The commemorative tournament programme for the centennial of Malta Polo Club featuring the then Prince of Wales who lined out for San Anton

Appearing in the Times of Malta last 15 September online at https://timesofmalta.com, the initial conclusion to be drawn was that polo in Malta did indeed, predate Irish polo, given that as everyone knows, the All Ireland Polo Club was established in 1873 while Malta claimed the year of 1868. There was a fly in the ointment however, perhaps not noticeable to the casual observer but anyone who has spent time on or beside a polo ground would have almost immediately cottoned on: while the size of each polo ground in question are comparable at around 300 by 170 yards their playing surfaces are polar opposites; one being the green, green grass of Ireland and the other of sand.

Dust puffs up from beneath the hooves of polo ponies and their riders in a match at Malta Polo Club

Therein lies the chicken and egg situation, as in which of the two came first. While Malta Polo Club at Marsa Sports Grounds can hold claim to being the oldest polo ground in Europe it is more aptly the oldest sand pitch, and the AIPC can then take its rightful place as the oldest of European polo clubs where the sport is played on a traditional grass surface.

The green grass of the polo ground at the All Ireland Polo Club

The Times of Malta piece was sent in effect as an intentional means of putting an end to the debate, and indeed it did. As the All Ireland Polo Club in Dublin City’s award-winning Phoenix Park prepares to celebrate its sesquicentennial, indeed it has.

In comparing which of the clubs is older, Malta or Ireland, each in its own way is a winner – chicken or egg.


Tags: Arts & Culture Polo King Charles III

Image credits: Times of Malta, Kim Mullahey


Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is Pynck.com’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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