In its long history Merrion has been fortunate to have a few members who through their commitment, skills and example could truly be said to have formed the character of the club. Chris Mara, who died five days short of his 90th birthday on 5th November 2001, was one of those members.
Chris was educated by the Christian Brothers and first joined Clontarf CC close to where he lived. But he soon followed his brother Ned, then Merrion’s opening bowler, across the river. Chris first turned out for Merrion’s 1st XI in 1935 and went on to play 313 matches over a twenty six year career. He was Merrion’s opening fast bowler for most of this time and was a key part in Merrion’s league and cup successes in the 1940s and 1950s. When his 1st team playing days were over he continued for many years to play on the club’s junior sides. He was gifted with a lovely smooth bowling action and even in the twilight of his career was still able to bowl accurately with a beautiful high release.
Chris captained Merrion four times, in 1944/45 and 1953/54, and led Merrion to their second league title in 1945. He headed the club’s bowling averages no less than eight times. His career record was one of the most impressive of any Merrion player and he was most unfortunate not to get an international cap.
His best performance was 9/52 and he got one hat-trick, against YMCA in 1941. In 1940, when Merrion won the double, Chris got five wickets in an innings no less than nine times. He played his last match for Merrion’s 3rd XI against Civil Service in 1981 at the age of 70 and took a wicket with the last ball he bowled.
Chris was a great servant to Merrion and over his many years in the club he served on management and selection committees and as club secretary. He was an honourary life member of the club. Possessed on a wry sense of humour he added immeasurably to the life of the club and will be sorely missed.