Dunlop, Henry Wallace Doveton (1844–1930), sports promoter, civil servant and engineer, was born in February 1844 in Bombay (Mumbai), India, the only son of (William) Henry Glasgow Dunlop (d. 1869), deputy superintendent of the Bombay Water Police, and his wife Mary Anne (née Pilkington). His mother was originally from Dublin and his father from Prestwick in Ayrshire; they married in India on 14 February 1839. In 1848 young Henry and his older sister, Mary Susan Elizabeth (b. 1840), moved to England into the care of relatives in Plymouth.
While his mother worked as a governess in Europe, Henry spent time in Germany and attended a secondary school in Montauban, France, before entering TCD on 11 October 1861, aged 17, to study engineering; he graduated as a licentiate in civil engineering (1864) and BA (1866). Prior to graduating, he joined the Irish civil service (24 July 1863) as a junior clerk in the record of title office of the landed estates court, housed in the Four Courts, Dublin. He spent over five decades there, serving nine judges and rising to 'second clerk in the land court'; from 1879 he was also keeper of deeds. His personal papers were destroyed in the burning of the Four Courts on 30 June 1922.
A champion sprinter, he won the 100- and 400-yard races at the inaugural Irish civil service athletics championships (31 August 1867). Becoming a speed walker ('pedestrianism' was then a mainstay athletics event), he won the 3-mile and 7-mile races at the second civil service athletics championships (4 July 1868); he also won the 2-mile race at the Dublin University athletics sports (the 'college races') on 14 June 1869. After victory in the 2-mile race at the third civil service championships (26 June 1869), he retired unbeaten in competition. He remained involved in organising athletics events and was honorary secretary (1871–2) of the Dublin University Athletic Club, which managed the college races. The narrow defeat (29 November 1872) of Dunlop's third motion in as many years to spend the profits of the college races to lay a running path around College Park (strongly opposed by Dublin University Rugby Football Club and other sporting clubs), led Dunlop to become the key founder on 28 June 1872 of the Royal Irish Athletic Club, set up to stage annual national athletics championships. It was renamed the Irish Champion Athletic Club (ICAC) in November 1872, and an executive committee was formed, comprising prominent representatives of athletic and sporting clubs in Dublin, Ulster, Cork, Galway and Limerick. An avowedly amateur body, it adopted rules from English rowing which explicitly excluded from competition professional athletes, as well as mechanics, artisans and labourers.
The ICAC held its first 'championships of all Ireland' meeting at College Park on 7 July 1873. However, the TCD board objected to having not been consulted, and angrily revoked permission for future ICAC events to be held in the college. A new venue was therefore urgently required and Dunlop, drawing on his many contacts and knowledge of the land trade in Ireland, identified a suitable 8.5-acre plot to the east of Lansdowne Road station. In December 1873 he rented the site from the Pembroke estate at £65 per annum, with debentures issued by ICAC to fund a twenty-one-year lease. He deployed his engineering skills in laying out the new sportsgrounds, comprising a 586-yard cinder track enclosing cricket and archery grounds, and croquet and football pitches. Taking its name from the adjacent street, Lansdowne Road was officially opened by the viceroy, the 5th Earl Spencer (qv), on 23 May 1874. The second ICAC championships were held there on 27 June 1874, at which Maurice Davin (qv) won the hammer and shot. Dunlop envisioned an athletics and cricket club active over spring and summer, with members playing rugby football (then in its infancy as a code) to maintain fitness in winter, and readily agreed to the request in November 1873 by Wanderers FC for use of the football pitch (Wanderers officially shared the ground from 1880). Needing to raise funds, by the mid 1870s Dunlop had helped establish and host a range of affiliated clubs, as well as making ICAC facilities available for hire by other sports clubs. By December 1874 the cinder track (the first in Ireland) encircled cricket and archery grounds and three football pitches; there was also a 400-seat grandstand (with open seating for another 600), a gate lodge and a dressing room. R. M. Peter (qv) in his Irish football annual (1880) noted that the ICAC 'possessed the best ground, and the most complete dressing arrangements of any club in the vicinity of Dublin' (p. 856). The development of the grounds was greatly assisted by the fact that many civil servants, professionals and military officers resided locally on the Pembroke estate, and that the grounds were adjacent to Lansdowne Road station on the Kingstown–Dublin line, easily accessible from both the city centre and the affluent coastal suburbs.
Lansdowne Football Club emerged in the 1873/4 season, initially known as the 'Irish Champion Football Club, or Lansdowne Road FC' (Ir. Sportsman, 19 December 1874) – contemporary newspaper reports refer to the ICAC and Lansdowne Football Club interchangeably. In November 1874 Lansdowne were a founding club of the Irish Football Union (predecessor of the IRFU), and Dunlop was honorary secretary (1878–9 onwards) and first president (1903–4). He also took charge of the Lansdowne second XV in the late 1870s, which formed the nucleus of players from which the club developed a distinct identity.
A central figure in the overlapping circles of Irish sporting life, Dunlop was often a judge, starter and handicapper at athletics events held by other clubs in Dublin (often hosted at the ICAC's Lansdowne Road grounds) and Belfast. He was honorary secretary of the Civil Service Athletic Club (1874–5), which, added to his earlier involvement with Dublin University AC, meant he was active in the three main athletic sporting clubs in Dublin (and Ireland) in the mid 1870s. By 1877 the ICAC was parent to seven affiliated clubs: cricket, football, archery, croquet, tennis, lacrosse and cycling, and Dunlop was involved in several Irish sporting firsts. The ICAC hosted a 'grand croquet champion meeting' at Marino, Dublin, in August 1874 and a 'champion archery meeting' at Lansdowne Road in September 1874. The All Irish Lawn Tennis Club was established in 1875 by Dunlop under ICAC auspices, later renamed Lansdowne Lawn Tennis Club (1880), predating the Irish championships commenced later at the Fitzwilliam LTC. The Irish Champion Bicycle Club (established November 1875 by the ICAC) organised the first Irish cycling championship in June 1876. The ICAC ground also hosted the first inter-provincial rugby game played in Dublin, when Leinster took on Ulster (16 December 1876).
The ICAC held annual summer athletics championships at their grounds from 1874 to 1880, attracting first-class competitors from across the country and on occasion from Britain and America. On 5 June 1876 it hosted the first ever international athletics meeting (with nationality governed by birth), when an Ireland team competed against an England selection, winning four of thirteen events. The last ICAC-hosted Irish athletics championships were held 17 May 1880 at Lansdowne Road, but, even after the club's demise in 1879–80, the 'Irish championship meeting' continued to be held there each summer until 1884, moving to the RDS Ballsbridge grounds on the establishment of the Irish Amateur Athletic Association in 1885.
Dunlop faced significant hostility from a large body of ICAC members committed to a purely amateur ethos and opposed to his control of club funds and plans to transform the club into a limited company to fund the development of improved facilities. In summer 1877 he launched a chancery suit to indemnify himself against debts personally assumed as ICAC honorary secretary, for which creditors were then pursuing him. In December 1877 he resigned as honorary secretary, while continuing to manage the club's activities. He also sought a concomitant lien in his favour on the Lansdowne Road ground lease (which, according to a December 1877 audit, amounted to over £1,500). This was granted in 1879 and his costs in 1881. Dunlop, Michael Cusack (qv) and other committee members unanimously agreed to dissolve ICAC in November–December 1880, selling property and cups to discharge its liabilities, with the tenancy of the ground transferring to Lansdowne Football Club (and later personally to Henry Sheppard, honorary secretary of the IRFU, passing on his death in 1906 to the IRFU). Cusack had joined the ICAC committee in the late 1870s, but the social and professional exclusivity he observed there and in other sporting bodies spurred him to establish the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).
Dunlop exhibited a range of interests embodying late-Victorian associational culture in Ireland. He was honorary secretary (1879) of the Irish Kennel Club, performed in amateur dramatics with the Blackrock Society in the 1890s, was a member of the Dublin Naturalists' Field Club, contributing notices to the Irish Naturalist, and promoted sanitation schemes to prevent the spread of typhoid via the River Liffey and to abate noxious sewerage fumes in Clontarf. A keen sculptor, he sculpted busts for the RHA exhibitions of 1871, 1872 and 1887, and took out a number of patents on ingenious inventions. Arising from his experience revising the catalogue as assistant librarian to the RDS (November 1869–April 1876), he patented a system of slotted index cards (1871), encased by a securing rod in an enclosure, allowing the interpolation and reordering of individual entries as catalogues were revised and expanded. Among his other patents were a suspension train truck (1891) to minimise injury and bruising to cattle caused by abrasive shunting, which degraded meat quality; a cycle carrier for bicycles on railways, trialled by the Great Northern Railway (1902); and a T-shaped pneumatic cushioned bicycle saddle (1901), which was adopted by Brampton Brothers, the Birmingham bicycle manufacturers.
His lasting contribution to Irish sport was his founding of Lansdowne Football Club and the creation of the Lansdowne Road ground, the home of Irish rugby. Till its redevelopment as the Aviva Stadium in 2006–10, it was regarded as the oldest international rugby ground in continuous use in the world, the first rugby international (Ireland hosting England) to be played there having occurred on 11 March 1878. The redeveloped stadium, opened in May 2010, includes a suite named in Dunlop's honour.
Dunlop lived at various addresses in Dublin city and county, supporting his sister and mother (who died on 6 May 1902, aged 99). He married (6 August 1873) Georgina Rebecca (d. 1906), daughter of George Lambert Cathcart, solicitor, at Molyneux Chapel, Leeson Park, Dublin; they had a daughter, Mary Pilkington Dunlop, and five sons: William Wallace Cathcart Dunlop; Revd Keith Malcolm Dunlop, Dublin diocesan registrar; Gordon Eyre Dunlop; Revd Douglas Lyall Chandler Dunlop, rector of Oughterard, Co. Galway, whose daughter Shelagh married Lord Killanin (qv); and Walter Dunlop, principal of Codrington College, Barbados. Dunlop married secondly (13 May 1911) Ethel, youngest daughter of William Hinch, at St Peter's church, Aungier Street, Dublin, and with her had two sons, one of whom, Eric Wallace Dunlop (1918–2008), was awarded the DFC (1943) while serving with the RAF in Burma, and an MBE (1957) for services to industrial relations in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia). Henry Dunlop died at his home, 40 Sydney Avenue, Blackrock, on 16 April 1930.