Irish international hockey star (107) presents new trophy

Trinity graduate Doris de Courcy-Wheeler steeped in the history of hockey and society

Dorothea Findlater at the presentation of the Wheeler Plate to Linda Caulfield, president of Dublin University Ladies Hockey Club. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Dorothea Findlater at the presentation of the Wheeler Plate to Linda Caulfield, president of Dublin University Ladies Hockey Club. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Dublin University was founded in 1592 and the hockey club has been around since 1893. So who better than Ireland’s oldest former international hockey player, Dorothea Findlater, to present the inaugural Wheeler Plate.

Findlater turned 107 years old on December 27th, 2016, making it 81 years, give or take a few months, since she was selected to win her first Irish cap in 1936. That earned her an epic “slow boat” trip to the US.

“We had great fun. It was most enjoyable,” says Doris, who lives at home on Newtownpark Avenue in Blackrock. “It took a week to get to America.”

A graduate of Trinity in 1932, the then Doris de Courcy-Wheeler met and married Dermot Findlater, one of a well-known family of Dublin merchants. Doris’s mother Lena Knox was a hockey player as were her two aunts Nita and Ella, who also played for Ireland between 1899 and 1902, which gives Doris a life experience of knowing people born across three centuries.

“No one could stop the Trinity Trio,” she says looking out over the college, which she entered in 1928. The tear-away trio of the ’30s were Doris, Peggy French and Margaret McKay.

“Oh yes things have changed quite a bit,” she says of the playing fields. “It’s much more groomed. It used to be wild shrubs and things.

“We were called ‘the Trinity Trio’ because we scored an awful lot of goals between us. We were very good friends. I was here for general studies. A bit of everything.”

Hilary Term 1932

Doris has kept a page from her final exams, which are dated Hilary Term 1932.

Question one: “Freedom to conduct life’s adventure in his own way and make the best of it. Consider this statement.”

Apt, although little sign of gender equality in the phrasing of exam questions.

Still, Doris was far from the only woman on campus.

“There were quite a lot of women here, some doing quite intelligent things,” she says. “Maths and languages . . .that sort of thing.”

A well-recognised figure in Carrickmines Golf Club, up to a couple of years ago she could be seen practising her putting on the green beside the clubhouse. Her father was Capt. Harry de Courcy-Wheeler, a renowned show-jumper, who would later be among those accepting the surrender from Patrick Pearse during the 1916 rising.

The Wheeler Plate goes to the winners of an annual hockey match between Trinity Ladies and a President’s Alumni Selection.

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