Jottings of my Life in Tyrone, Ireland – Horse Races

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Compliments of

Horse Races

Everyone turned out in their best bib and tucker for the Galway races. Each year we would have our “four-in-hand” and numerous other conveyances to take our family, friends and visitors around. The military would entertain all their friends at the various race meetings. They would have a large marquee there and serve luncheons, a little too much champagne and, of course, tea and coffee would sober down some of them for the return drive home. The band of any regiment that happened to be stationed in the district, would provide the music during meal time. We would take part in backing our favourite horse, and money would be exchanged on bets. Even the old ladies would forget everything in their excitement. They even took off their bonnets and flung them in the air if their favourite won. Ringing in our ears would be “two to one bar one” or even money on the field, interspersed with the blowing of horns. We allowed some of the servants a good holiday on every other race day, and provided cars to take them there.

The Tuam races came next and those of us who did not have a horse would sometimes borrow one. My brother Tom used to borrow one from James Browne, a sweetheart of Aunt Tilly. I never heard of him winning anything worthwhile, however. Then we had two days’ racing at the lovely little town of Gort near where I was born. Our friends, the Martins, lived just outside the area in a place called Tullira Castle. The ivy-covered ruins are in the woods near the present mansion, which originally belonged to the Burkes. It seems that the third Earl of Clanricard married a daughter of the Burkes of Tullira, but the castle passed into the hands of the Martin family, presumably through marriage sometime during the 16th Century. Over the door in the courtyard is a stone shield bearing the Martin coat of arms, said to have been presented to Oliver Martin by Richard the First, King of England.

Tullira Castle compliments The Irish Times Thu Oct 3 2013

From Gort we would go to the races in Limerick, where I always enjoyed my stay. ’I was about fourteen years old when I first went there. I thought the old town very beautiful with its splendid residences, charming little cottages, and such a lovely river. A number of steamers still come up the Shannon and stop there. It used to be the capital city of the Kings of Thomond until they were conquered by the English. Thomond bridge, which occupies the site of a very ancient structure, connects English Town, as one part of Limerick is called, with County Clare. In the newer part of the town, called Newtown Pery, is the Shannon Rowing Club, which is certainly quite a credit to the city. I must not forget George Street and also Glentworth Street, with its charming old clock tower and the Glentworth Hotel where we resided during our stay there. It was there that we met friends from all parts of the counties Limerick and Clare.

Some of the buildings here are well worth seeing: the Catholic cathedral, for instance; King John’s Castle, erected by William de Burgh in the reign of King John; and St. Mary’s cathedral which occupies the site of the place of Donald More O’Brien. All around, within a few miles, are places of interest, among which I remember Dromoland Castle, the residence of Lord Limerick, and Glin Castle, for centuries the home of the Knights of Glin, called the Black Knights – FitzGerald was the family name. Many of the people around here were our close friends, who for years used to enjoy hunting, fishing and other sports with us. I could mention a list of names all noted for their prowess in the hunting field. The Galway Blazers, as the members of the County Galway Hunt Club were called, used to join in the chase all over Ireland and of course they always showed up in Limerick for the races.

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About this record

Written by Elizabeth La Hiff Lambert

Published here 09 Sep 2022 and originally published 1979

Page 0104 of the Athenry History archive.

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