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Earliest meeting: Monday 15th July 1754
Final meeting: Thursday 21st March 1946
The Irish racecourse at the town of Rathkeale, which stands on the River Deel, was in the west of County Limerick and served a population of less than 4,000. The earliest record of racing in the town was a five day meeting spread over six days from Monday 15th to Saturday 20th July 1754 which opened with a £40 Purse won by Sir Edward O’Brien’s Duchess. On the final day of the meeting Sir Edward had to be content with third place behind Mr Thomas Newenham’s Trifle in the £80 Purse. Extended meetings continued to be held intermittently throughout the 18th century, often sponsored by the Gentlemen of Castleconnel Club. A particularly interesting race was structured on Saturday 15th July 1775 when a ‘weight for inches’ race was won by Lord Clanwilliams’s Irish Hero. By the middle of the 19th century half-yearly meetings were being held on The Meads close to the town centre. The meetings were still held during the First World War with a card staged on Monday 31st May 1915. During the Second World War the town hosted race meetings, including on Thursday 3rd September 1940. However, the final meeting was held on Thursday 21st March 1946.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Clanwilliams, Colonel Quin, Castleconnel Club, Mr Jos. Shadwell, Mr Battersby
Principal Races Gentlemen of Castleconnel Club Purse, Real Hunters Purse, Ladies weight for inches Purse, Rathkeale Stakes, Rathkeale Stewards Handicap

Monday 10th July 1775

Rathkeale 4 year old Purse over 2 miles
1. Rosetta, bay mare owned by Colonel Quin
2. Gimcrack owned by Mr W J Gun
3. Black Legs owned by Mr J Hewson

Tuesday 11th July 1775

Rathkeale 5 year old Purse over 3 miles
1. Victorious, chestnut horse owned by Mr J Hewson
2. Constant, bay horse owned by Mr R Bullen

Wednesday 12th July 1775

Gentlemen of Castleconnel Club Purse over 4 miles
1. Courtezan, grey mare owned by Mr Westrop
2. Constant, bay horse owned by Mr R Bullen
3. Tulip, bay mare owned by Mr Bullen

Thursday 13th July 1775

Real Hunters Purse over 4 miles
1. Governor, bay horse owned by Mr J Fallon
2. Tyger, bay horse owned by Lord Clanwilliams

Friday 14th July 1775

Gentlemen of Rathkeale Hunt Purse over 4 miles
1. Irish Hero, bay horse owned by Lord Clanwilliams
2. Lovely Molly, bay mare owned by Mr Jos. Shadwell
3. Tenducci, bay gelding owned by Mr G Blenerhasset

Saturday 15th July 1775

Ladies weight for inches Purse over 4 miles
1. Irish Hero, bay horse owned by Lord Clanwilliams
2. Hemp, bay horse owned by Mr J Westrop
3. Schoolboy, bay gelding owned by Mr Jos. Shadwell

Monday 22nd to Friday 26th July 1805

Rathkeale Weight for Age Handicap over 3 miles
1. First Fruits owned by Mr Hunter
2. Jerry Sneak owned by Mr Battersby

Rathkeale Stakes over 2 miles
1. Superior owned by Mr Croker
2. Partridge owned by Mr Watts

Rathkeale Stewards Handicap over 2 ½ miles
1. Superior owned by Mr Croker
2. First Fruits owned by Mr Hunter

The final meeting took place on Thursday 21st March 1946.
Course today On The Meads near the town centre.
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 johnwslusar@gmail.com

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

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing johnwslusar@gmail.com stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
Download an order form
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Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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