De Lacy, Stanley (1914–2005), hockey international and athlete, was born in the family home at 2 Cameron Street, Dublin, on 26 December 1914, the sixth of eight children of John Lacy and his wife Anne (née White). The family soon moved to Limerick where they lived on Barrington Street. Stanley attended St Michael's national school and Limerick CBS. A keen sportsman from a young age, he focused on athletics and tennis during the summer, then switched to hockey and badminton for the winter. As an adult he played badminton for Munster at senior level. He took up hockey aged 14 and within a year was selected for the Munster Schools hockey team. The Christian Brothers, enthusiastic promoters of Gaelic games, never attempted to dissuade him from playing hockey (possibly because he was a protestant). At 16, he joined the local bacon processing company Joseph Matterson & Sons as an office boy, and continued with the firm for fifty years. After sitting his leaving certificate, he took a night course in accountancy and management in Limerick technical college, which expedited his subsequent progress within Mattersons.
The company facilitated his sporting pursuits and hockey was particularly encouraged. Hockey was largely confined to Dublin and parts of Northern Ireland, but was reasonably popular in Limerick city, which boasted five men's clubs. As an adult he played first for Limerick County and then by 1932 for the Limerick Protestant Young Men's Association (LPYMA). With his club he was a serial winner of Munster Senior Cups, but lost three Irish Senior Cup finals. In 1941 LPYMA reached the Senior Cup final but their opponents Lisnagarvey could not travel due to difficulties associated with the recent bombing of Belfast; as a result the clubs shared the cup.
By 1934 he was on the Munster inter-provincial hockey team and he played in a final trial for Ireland a year later before breaking into the international team in 1937. He made an immediate impact and quickly came to be recognised as the best outside right in Britain and Ireland. His most obvious asset was his pace, which he combined with dexterous stick work, enabling him to control the ball while running at speed and swerving to avoid defenders. His bursts down the wing split opposing defences open and the ensuing centres produced many goals; so too did his powerful and accurate shooting. Though slightly built, he played in a determined fashion. Nonetheless, he can be exempted from accusations that Irish players of that era relied more on physicality and muddy home pitches than on skill.
His emphasis on maintaining his fitness contributed to his longevity and he won a then-record 34 caps for Ireland between 1937 and 1954, retiring aged 39. This span coincided with the golden era of Irish hockey during which time Ireland won the triple crown on five occasions (1937–9, 1947 and 1949); he captained the 1947 side. Indeed he played 20 matches for Ireland (19 wins and one draw) before suffering defeat at international level. He continued to perform impressively late into his career, scoring a hat-trick against Wales in 1953 and scoring and setting up a goal in his final international against England in 1954. In 1951 he captained the Britain and Ireland team that toured Rhodesia and South Africa. Twelve years earlier he had been a member of the Britain and Ireland team that played Germany in Munich in a match attended by Adolf Hitler. After the game, Hitler decided that each of the visiting players should receive a porcelain figurine of the Monk's Child, Munich's symbol, which de Lacy retained in his trophy cabinet.
With international hockey suspended for 1940–46, World War II cost him at least another eighteen caps. The war also deprived him of the chance to compete as a sprinter in the Olympics. In 1937, he emerged as one of the country's leading sprinters in winning the 100 yards sprint at the national championships of the National Athletic and Cycling Association (NACA). Irish athletics was at this time split into two hostile organisations, NACA and the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU), and de Lacy joined the AAU in 1938, reasoning that if he won in both codes, he would be recognised as the fastest man in the country. Competing in the AAU national championships he won the 100 yards sprint in 1939 and both the 100 and 220 yards sprints in 1940. On two occasions he equalled the Irish 100 yards record of 9.8 seconds.
At Mattersons he served successively as factory supervisor, factory manager and finally managing director from 1967–81. He developed the company's canning plant, which broadened its product line. At its peak Mattersons was a major employer in Limerick city, but went into decline during the 1960s as the free-trade era dawned. In 1967 it ceased its unprofitable bacon processing activities and concentrated on canning. The company was taken over by Erin Foods in 1968, but continued to struggle. Only de Lacy's skilful handling of the unions during the national maintenance craftsmen's strike of 1969 averted the company's closure. An authority on the Limerick bacon industry, he held that the factories were hampered by their location within the city centre and lacked the resources to move to greenfield sites. Mattersons eventually closed in 1986.
Stanley de Lacy married Hazel Holliday; they had a daughter Barbara. He lived for some thirty years on the North Circular Road before moving to Castleconnell to be near his daughter's family. Active in his old age, he continued to attend hockey matches into his 90s. In 1994 he was inducted into the Texaco Sportstars Hall of Fame. He died at Castleconnel, Co. Limerick, on 28 August 2005.
His younger bother Hugh de Lacy (1919–1979), rugby international, was born in Barrington Street, Limerick, on 20 November 1919 and was educated at Ranelagh School, Athlone, and at Mountjoy School in Dublin. He played both rugby (as scrum-half) and hockey (as outside right) for Mountjoy and for the Leinster schools team. In 1938 he lost a Leinster senior schools rugby final with Mountjoy. As an adult, he played inter-provincial hockey for both Munster and Leinster, but was more renowned for his rugby. Having won a scholarship, he entered TCD in 1938 to study science and went on to enjoy a glittering academic career there, winning a number of prizes before graduating B.Sc. He also made an immediate impression on the Trinity rugby team on which he played for six seasons from 1938, captaining the side in 1942–3. From 1939–48 he was selected regularly for the Munster inter-provincial team apart from a brief period when he played for Leinster instead. In 1944 he moved to London and played club rugby for Harlequins.
A polished and stylish scrum-half, capable of electrifying breaks down the blind side of the scrum, he was a consistent and crisp passer, who excelled at getting the ball away quickly and could throw it in any direction without changing his body position. He provided invaluable assistance to faltering scrums with his canny box-kicking, watchful defensive covering and inspired scrambling when receiving the ball under pressure. He played for Ireland in a wartime international against a British army team in Belfast in 1942, and but for the war would have been Ireland's regular scrum-half in the early 1940s. When international rugby resumed in 1947, he missed out due to injury. By then his age and venerable appearance (brought about by premature balding) told against him. Nonetheless a strong performance for Munster against the touring Australians in autumn 1947 brought him back into the international reckoning.
In 1948, he won his two Irish caps in the second and third matches (against England and Scotland) of the historic grand slam of that year. On 28 February he and his brother Stanley played for Ireland in their respective sports, obliging their mother to commandeer a neighbour's radio so she could listen simultaneously to both matches. Although he performed well in an individual sense, he did not combine well with Ireland's star out-half Jack Kyle (qv). Kyle's preference for standing well back from the scrum obliged de Lacy to throw longer passes than he was accustomed to, resulting in a loss of accuracy. This consideration and his perceived physical frailness prompted his controversial exclusion from the team for the grand-slam decider against Wales. He is the forgotten man of Ireland's first grand slam, in which he played an important role, dealing capably with some ragged ball from the under-pressure Irish scrum. Hugh de Lacy married Pamela Richards of Osterley in England and died in London on 8 November 1979.