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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 13th October 1868
The County Limerick racecourse at Ballinacurra, with Portland Park so prominent in the area, held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday 13th October 1868. It raced under the banner of Limerick Races and replaced the previous venue at Newcastle, which had been forced to close the previous year after drunkenness, a murder of a child and the refusal of the landowner to continue to lease the land for racing. The course was located two miles from Limerick on the Croome road and the opening race on the opening day was His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate, which was won by Aster owned by Mr Croker. However, in order to broaden its appeal the programme also contained a 4 mile steeplechase. This was all to no avail because course inspectors were not impressed with the state of the course, particularly the bends, and stated that they would withdraw the honour of hosting a King’s Plate if the meeting was not staged elsewhere the next year.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Captain Quin, Captain Goodwill
Principal Races His Majesty’s Plate, Limerick Tradesman’s Plate, Garryowen Plate

Tuesday 13th October 1868
His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate
1. Aster owned by Mr Croker
2. Barometer owned by Mr Duncie
3. Sea Queen owned by Mr S Mansergh

The missing years; the period, in the mid to late 19th century, when no racing took place in the vicinity of Limerick.
1867 The last meeting at Newcastle took place on 18th and 19th September attended by an unruly crowd and marked by 2 unfortunate incidents. A man named Mullins, from Galway, brutally murdered his 3 year old son on the way back from the first day of Limerick races. The next day James Daly, a fieldman at the racecourse, received such a severe blow from a stone that he died soon afterwards.

1868 The meeting was moved from mid-September to 13th and 14th October to a new venue at Ballinacurra, less than 2 miles from the city centre, on farm land owned by Mr Hogan, Mrs Burns, Mrs Dawson and Mrs Stokes. The new course did not meet with universal approval, with the Stewards actively pursuing a policy of abolishing the annual meeting. However, a committee of local businessmen were determined to ensure racing continued.

1869 Many improvements were made to the course, enlarging the running ground and altering the position of the stand-house and refreshment booths. Whilst all were dismayed by the loss of the Queens Prize, the main race, the Limerick £150 Steeplechase over 3 ½ miles, won by Viscount owned and ridden by Mr W Bell was deemed a success.

1870 & 1871 The main races at the Ballinacurra course were the Stewards Handicap, the Limerick Tradesmen’s Plate, the Garryowen Plate, the Munster Hunt Plate and the Ballinacurra Handicap.

1872 The 2 day meeting had a disappointingly low number of entrants, mainly as a consequence of late decision making of the Stewards who were undecided whether to continue to stage the meeting at Ballinacurra or move to King’s Island on land acquired by MP Major Gavin.

1873- 1877 No racing took place at Limerick

1878 In April Dr O’Sullivan had sought and received subscriptions of £150 to revive a meeting on the old Ballinacurra course in September. On Thursday 30th May 1878 Mr Waters, Chief Executive, met with Dr O’Sullivan and Mr Mulville to look at several possible locations for the formation of a new racecourse. A large number of local gentlemen promised to offer improved prize money, including one gentleman who guaranteed to sponsor a 300 guineas cup race. No race meeting was forthcoming.

1879 Dr O’Sullivan approached the Mayor, asking him to set up a public meeting with the express purpose of reviving Limerick races on a yet unspecified course. No race meeting was forthcoming.

1880 On Saturday 22nd May 1880 two rival race committees met at the Town Hall under the presidency of Mr Robert McDonnell, and agreed to work jointly towards the re-establishment of Limerick Steeplechases on a new course at Ballinacurra under the superintendence of Mr Waters. No race meeting was forthcoming.

Course today

On Wednesday 14th October 1891 a new course opened at Green Park.

If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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