THE Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR), which represents those who own and/or operate all 26 racecourses nationwide, has been in existence since 1964. In 2005, the organisation was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee.
It is a non-profitmaking organisation and its membership has, since its inception, comprised all Irish racecourses. It is currently run by a board of directors who are elected by the racecourse members, and only representatives of member racecourses are eligible for election.
In 1994 Paddy Walsh was appointed full-time chief executive of AIR, whose offices are based in Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin 2.
The board of the Association meets regularly and the members meet, in general, about four to five times a year. The mission of the Association is to promote the sport of horse racing generally, and the specific interests of those who own or operate racecourses.
This week we have decided to take a closer look at those who sit at board level, and who actively represent its wider membership on key issues and concerns. The board of AIR collectively works in the best interests of all its members in negotiations and policy agreements annually.
Board members are elected by secret ballot and a system of proportional representation. They are the preferred representatives chosen by the members and they each serve a term of three years.
In the chair
Conor O’Neill was appointed chairman of AIR in December 2018. He is the chief executive officer of Punchestown Racecourse and held the position of general manager at Limerick Racecourse previously. John Flannelly, vice chairman of AIR since December 2018, is the manager at Ballinrobe Racecourse for over 20 years.
Peter Killeen is an independent director of AIR having formerly served as manager of Navan Racecourse and, prior to that, with Tote Ireland. His valuable industry knowledge and well-rounded experience is a valuable asset to AIR and he will see out the remainder of his term of office.
Richard Lyttle is the general manager at Downpatrick Racecourse and served as manager at Navan Racecourse prior to his current appointment. He has served as a board director of the Association since April 2019.
Michael Moloney is the chief executive officer at Galway Races. He is a chartered accountant, and he previously held the positions of financial controller and chief executive officer at Plumpton Racecourse in Britain, as well as positions with At The Races and Tote Ireland.
Dick O’Brien has been on the board of Roscommon racecourse for over 20 years and recently retired from the role of chairman, a position that he held for 14 of those years. He is a board member of AIR since November 2020.
Patrick O’Callaghan is the general manager at Limerick Racecourse, a role he stepped into following a long tenure as financial controller at the racecourse prior to that. He was appointed as an AIR board director in December 2019.
Peter Roe is general manager at Fairyhouse Racecourse for over 10 years and previously managed Tipperary Racecourse for over 20 years. His appointment to the current board of AIR commenced in December 2020. Last, but by no means least, Owen Byrne is the manager at Tramore Racecourse since 2018. Owen was elected to the board in 2020 and brings with him vast marketing experience and industry knowledge.
So, as you can see, all four provinces of Ireland and all grades of racecourses are represented on the board of the Association by a highly qualified team with exceptional industry knowledge and experience. Each representative has earned their seat and endeavours to represent all racecourses at the boardroom table and in all their activities on behalf of the membership of AIR.
By Leo Powell