Former Chairman of Parks Tennis Tom O’Loughlin
Tom O’Loughlin, former Chairman of Parks Tennis Ireland and Dublin Parks Tennis passed away on Monday 24th June 2019. He was well known as the leading promoter of spreading the grassroots of tennis amongst children and was proud of the fact that these organisations encompassed the inclusion of girls and boys from a diverse economic, social and ethnic background.
While born in Bansha, County Tipperary, Tom lived in Cobh until the age of twenty. From 1950 to 1970 he worked in Shannon Airport and played tennis at Shelbourne Lawn Tennis Club in Limerick. In 1970. Tom excelled in many other sports. However when he moved to Malahide he became more engrossed in tennis and subsequently became an Honourary life member and trustee of Malahide Tennis Club.
Forty two years ago as a young man of 47 years of age, Tom’s imagination was captured by a concept called Parks Tennis, the main objective of Parks Tennis was to introduce tennis to children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to play the game.
When the concept was presented by Seamus Shelly and his son Tom, to the Dublin City Manager and his colleagues, they were sold on the idea and within a short space of time the plans for building tennis courts around Dublin City were put in place. Tom eventually became Chairman of the Parks and proved to be an excellent leader and formed a good working committee generating further interest from all the other Dublin local authorities. As a result, courts were built all over the county of Dublin stretching from Shankhill to Balbriggan and from Tallaght to Blanchardstown.
Tom, however, wasn’t happy with the growth in Dublin alone and looked to the other counties for further growth which led to the establishment of programmes, firstly in his almost native city of Cork , then extended to his next adopted city of Limerick. Tom promoted the idea everywhere and to everyone. While Referee for 30 years of the Irish Veterans Nationals tournament held in Lansdowne Tennis Club, he preached the gospel of Parks Tennis to all and sundry. Many of these veteran players from the provinces were captivated by his enthusiasm and soon many of them helped it to spread to Waterford, Tipperary, Wexford, Galway, Mayo, Kildare, Kilkenny, Offaly, Laois, Belfast, Donegal, Monaghan.
Forty years on, Tom was still leading the Parks Organisation with the same enthusiasm as he did from the very first day he became involved. In 2018 at 88 years of age, Tom resigned as Chairman of Parks Tennis Ireland. Thanks to Tom’s generosity, time and energy, thousands of kids have been introduced to the sport over the years.
Tom will be sadly missed by all at Parks Tennis, Tennis Ireland and the Tennis Community in Ireland.