The Association of Irish Racecourses represents all 26 racecourses on the island of Ireland. Part of its remit involves working with many different industry bodies, national agencies and third parties.
Fáilte Ireland is one such authority, responsible for national tourism development, and all indicators show that equestrian tourism remains a firm favourite here.
The slogan ‘Make a break for it’ was never more attractive than during this past week of glorious sunshine. As the Galway Races is almost here, it focuses the mind on a trip to the west for some equine tourism.
The Wild Atlantic Way extends from Donegal’s Malin Head to Cork’s Mizen Head. This breath-taking route has some of the most incredible coastal views in the world.
From stunning headlands and beaches to colourful villages and towns, all infused with the history, heritage and tradition of this rugged coastline, it offers us many activities to combine with a trip to the races.
Swim, surf, fish, trek, dance, sing or visit ancient heritage sites – whatever your preference you’ll find it there. This week’s AIR column will offer some getaway inspiration for the weeks ahead.
Although limited in capacity, Galway is the place to be this week, with lots to see and do around racing and so many fantastic places to eat, visit, stay and play. If you’re in a position to make a break for it. I suggest you do just that!
Midweek racing from August 3rd to 5th inclusive is another interesting prospect, offering an evening meeting in Roscommon on Tuesday 3rd, followed by racing at Sligo on Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th.
Roscommon and Sligo align favourably again on the fixture list, with racing on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th, and this could tie in with a trip south along the Wild Atlantic Way to Killarney where they race on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of that week too.
For those of you lucky enough to have a week or more to devote to an escape to the west, why not top and tail a trip at the end of August with racing in Ballinrobe on Monday 23rd, always a treat, with Roscommon on Monday 30th.
Many of our readers love a visit to the thoroughbred county of Kildare, which is part of Ireland’s Ancient East. The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, combined with racing at the Curragh, Naas or Punchestown, is always a winner with visitors. There is a nice weekend of racing on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd at the Curragh and Naas respectively. In August, the Curragh will also host standalone fixtures on Sunday 7th and on Friday 13th and Friday 27th.
Naturally, Punchestown will feature again with National Hunt getaways in the autumn.
For those of you who are based in either of the regions featured here, perhaps day trips to visit local attractions, racecourses and enjoying all that is to offer on your doorstep is as good a place as any to start your staycation list. After all dining, shopping and staying local supports jobs in the community.
In last week’s column, the Racegoers Consultative Forum was featured. However, due to Covid 19, the Forum continues to remain on hold until we can have more racegoers back at Irish tracks, and a relatively normal raceday experience can be restored. During this interim period new representatives are being recruited to serve the following regions; Kildare (2), West (2), South West (1) and Greater Dublin (2).
If you have ideas or suggestions in relation to any Irish racecourse during this time, please forward them to the racecourse directly. You will find their contact details online or in your copy of The Irish Field Directory.
By Leo Powell