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Ireland Racing Trip by Raynor Peters

On Friday 17th February 2006 49 members of Wales and Border Counties Racing Association sailed to Ireland for a weekend of National Hunt and Road Racing.

After meeting at the Glanyrafon Arms in Talgarreg, the coach set off for Fishguard ready to set sail for Rosslare. The first night was spent in the pleasant Dooleys Hotel, Waterford where we all got settled for the night with great food and entertainment in the hotel bar. The occupants of room 101 tried their hardest to keep us awake but after a restful night and probably the tastiest English breakfast you could buy we strolled around Waterford for a little retail therapy before boarding the coach for Gowran Races in Kilkenny.

Set in the beautiful Kilkenny countryside, Gowran Park offers one the best National Hunt race tracks to watch thrilling races on the greenest of grass courses. The Irish crowd soon warmed things up for us with the bookies glad to take what ever money they could out of our pockets. It was hard to pick a winner and I don’t think any millionaires got back on our coach, but it wasn’t from lack of trying! Again our coach driver proved to be a gem and found us a friendly little pub for dinner and drinks before our long drive down the east coast to our next destination, Rosscarberry.

The Celtic Ross Hotel and Conference Centre is one of the nicest hotels you could wish to stay in. With Bay views from nearly every window, swimming pool, saunas and spa, we knew we it wouldn’t be hard to relax over the next few days. The sun shone every day in Ireland and no where more than on the little village of Rosscarberry. After a three course Sunday lunch we crept across the hills behind the bay to Dunmanway to watch the ITHRF road race down the only straight street in the village. The atmosphere was electric as the horses and jockeys raced up to the straw bales at the top of the street, turning on a ‘tenpence’ and then hurtling off down the road to another set of bales. The jockeys were fearless on the road and raced to the finish to claim excellent prize money and a few drinks in the pub afterwards.

Monday lunch, after the asprin had kicked in, we said good bye to Rosscarberry and headed back up the coast to Blarney. Blarney Castle is the home of the famous Blarney Stone, and anyone brave enough to climb the steep steps and dangle backwards over the top, had their photo taken as they kissed the ancient stone. We went onto Waterford again for dinner before setting sail on slightly rougher seas back home to Fishguard.

Our trip to Ireland was so much fun that I’m sure we would all love to go again.

Please see the links below if you are interested in the places that we stayed and the race courses we visited.

By Raynor Peters

Dooleys Hotel

Celtic Ross Hotel

Gowran Park


Blarney Stone

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