Mystery of missing trophy donated by famous Limerick actor

Statue of Richard Harris playing racquets in Kilkee.

MYSTERY surrounds the whereabouts of a trophy commissioned by world-renowned Limerick actor Richard Harris for a traditional game played in Kilkee.

Organisers of the game of racquets, Kilkee’s local sport, are appealing for the return of the trophy after it went missing more than two decades ago.

A replica of the Tivoli Cup, a perpetual trophy played for in the once-annual racquets tournament in Kilkee, was commissioned by Richard Harris who presented it to the then mayor of Kilkee, Michael Martin, back in 2000.

The replica trophy was needed after the original cup – which Harris himself had won no fewer than four times – no longer had space left for winners’ names to be engraved on it.

However, after the 2002 racquets tournament – the same year as the death of the Oscar-nominated actor – the winner failed to return the hotly-contested trophy.

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Organisers are now looking for the long-lost cup to be returned so they can revive the tournament this coming July

Event organiser Manuel di Lucia believes the cup may be somewhere in Limerick as the game was mostly played by locals and Limerick people holidaying in the seaside town.

“Racquets were a big part of Limerick society. People didn’t feel as if they had been in Kilkee for holidays in July if they hadn’t played for the Tivoli Cup,” he said.

The game – a combination of squash and handball – was played  every July since 1936 until the early 1990s when interest in the game faded.

Manuel says he approached the late Richard Harris in 2000 to ask if he would sponsor a replica of the cup so the tournament could resume.

Harris was a lover of Kilkee, where a statue now stands in his honour. Manuel says the Limerick man even won the original Tivoli Cup on four occasions between 1948 and 1951.

“I said ‘is there any chance that you would put up a replica trophy for the Tivoli Cup?’ and he said ‘yes’ straight away,” says Manuel.

“I also asked him for a cup for the Big Bay Swim and he put it up. I got it in Dublin for him and it’s still being swam for every year in August,” Manuel said.

The original Tivoli Cup is on display in the Sweeney Memorial Library in Kilkee.

Manuel doesn’t believe that to be any malice behind the trophy’s disappearance.

“There are two possibilities,” he theorises.

“One is that it possibly wasn’t explained to the winner that it was a perpetual trophy. The second is that the person that has it forgot to give it back.”

“We don’t have a record of the person who won it. We would like to get it back if possible because there’s hopes maybe that the tournament could be run off again this year in July.”

If anyone has the Tivoli Cup in their possession and would like to return it, it can be handed in to the Limerick Post (97 Henry Street, Limerick City).