If Portmarnock was not famous as a links it would certainly have been famous for its professional Harry Bradshaw. American and British visitors alike wanted to meet him. As always in such cases it was not just Harry’s golfing deeds but the character of the man himself. The phenomenal memory never failed in its accuracy, the modesty was combined with a quiet appreciation of his own worth, the humour was personal but not wounding, the unmistakable voice and the gleam in his eye as his story reached its climax, all of these and much more made Harry the internationally admired man that he was. Smurfit’s did well when they commissioned Dermot Gilleece of The Irish Times to put his voice on tape and to back it up with a biography of fascinating facts. What other European professional has had a personal letter from Ben Hogan as Harry did when in hospital the last time?
Harry Bradshaw was born and bred near Delgany in Co. Wicklow where his father was professional and where he learnt this famous skills at chipping and putting. He was unlucky that the years of World War II stopped cross-channel competition but during his time he was almost unbeatable at home. All his subsequent success, which twice included the Dunlop Masters, cannot be described here. Two highlights in team events must be mentioned: the Ryder Cup win at Ganton in 1957 where he won his singles on the last day beating Fred Bolt by 7 and 6, and the never to be forgotten win in the Canada Cup in Mexico in 1958 when Harry and Christy O’Connor won the day for Ireland. The younger Christy gives the palm to Harry in that tournament: steamy heat had sapped the energy of most, but not of Harry. The individual prize that same year was only decided by a birdie on the second tie hole where Harry lost to Angel Miguel of Spain.
Harry spent forty years in Portmarnock. In 1983 he became Senior Professional and a Pro Am event was held in his honour. He could still play the course in the low seventies and continued to teach more than ever. Members or visitors, young or old, men or women were to be seen hitting balls on the practice ground while Harry in overcoat and flat cap presided from his shooting stick. Christmas Week of 1990 saw Harry move to greener fairways but it is good to know that no long illness confined him: he was down on the links just ten days before his death.