It’s not only a special week for the 27 Irish players contesting this week’s historic Irish Open but it’s an emotional return for European Tour CEO, George O’Grady.
O’Grady is a native of Portrush with his family having lived at No. 7 Coleraine Road, Portrush.
“The fact is that I hit my first-ever golf shots while on school holidays in Portrush,” said O’Grady.
“And I was to discover recently that those Portrush connections with the past remained very real”
O’Grady’s mother, Ephanie Hill, was a native of Portrush, who went sout for a university education at Trinity College, Dublin, where she started out reading music but switched to medicine after a year.
It proved to be a fateful decision in that it led her into contact with a young man named Richard O’Grady from Cork.
“The story in the family is that he gate-crashed her 21st birthday party without actually meeting her at the party,” said O’Grady who was the youngest son.
“They first got to know each other during World War 11 by which stage they were both qualified doctors serving in the RAF in Newmarket.”
O’Grady was the third son and was actually born in Singapore in 1949 where both his parents were working as RAF doctors.
And the European Tour CEO was reminded of his Portrush roots earlier this year at the press conference to announe the Irish Open was returning to Portrush.
“I had two uncles that came from Portrush including Dr. Billy Hill, who was an ornithgologist who practiced medicine in the town all his life until he died last year,” said O’Grady.
“During my first visit for the Irish Open press conference, it seemed that virtually every member of the club council knew him and had played golf with him.
“He died in a nursing home in Britain.”
In fact, O’Grady revealed his mother’s former home is now the Portrush Police Station sitting by the roundabout where Coleraine Road commences.