Racing for Sovereigns in Castleisland in 1839

“The Castleisland Races is the oldest meeting of its kind in Ireland,” said committee chairman, Charlie Farrelly – with a straight face at the launch of this Sunday’s programme of events at Glebe Lodge recently.

Well, there is chronicled evidence of a meeting in 1839 from a newspaper article – which appeared in ‘The Tralee Chronicle and Killarney Echo’ from Tuesday, February 8-1839. And there is also evidence that the sport was established here even well before that.

The stewards of the 1839 meeting were: Charles Blennerhassett, Esq., J.P., Ballyseedy;  James Crosbie, Esq, D.L., Ballyheigue Castle; R. Conway Hurly, Esq., J.P., Glanduffe; John Sealy, Esq., J.P., Castleisland; Charles Nash, Esq., Ballycarthy. The race card included ‘The Shopkeepers’ Plate’ and ‘The Farmers’ Race’ and they were racing for Sovereigns at the time. The course was over ‘Turf Land’ and one mile from the town. The ‘most competent judges’ found the course ‘to be inferior to no other in Ireland.’

Back to the future:  The 2014 Castleisland Races Committee – which someone might like to look up in 175 years from now – is made up of the following:  President: Paddy Maher; Vice President: Vincent Murphy; Chairman: Charlie Farrelly: Vice Chairman Ted Kenny: Secretary:  Kay Reidy; Assistant secretary Martina O’Mahoney; Treasurers: Ronan Burke and John Ryan; Safety Officer:  Tom O’Sullivan and PRO: Pat Hartnett.

Executive committee members: Willie Reidy, Mags O’Sullivan, Rachel O’Mahoney, Bill Reidy, James Maher, Sean Walsh, Martin Conway and John Reidy.

The Castleisland Races Committee members are all set for this Sunday, June 15th and their annual Powell’s Road meeting which gets underway at 12-30pm.

The committee expressed its sincere gratitude to the London based, Mort Reidy and Patrick O’Leary of R.O.L Building Contractors who have agreed to remain on board as the committee’s main sponsor for 2014. They always express their gratitude too to Maurice Brosnan on whose lands at the historic Powell’s Road the races have been held in recent years.

A full race card has been compiled and it looks like the weather is going to be good and so it has the makings of a great day out.

The locally based Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is to receive the bulk of the race-day gate receipts and Castleisland Tidy Towns Committee will also receive a donation.