Your heart is galloping faster than the thundering hooves, louder than the roar of the crowd as the horses plunge up the home straight. You’re in the moment, outside of time, swept up in a thrill of colour and noise. The Irish passion for horse racing is legendary and experiencing it at The Curragh Racecourse is unforgettable.
You get in the mood with a glass of champagne, admire the horses in the parade ring, share banter, have a flutter, find your spot in the crowd, then – sheer, unbridled excitement.
The vast open grassy plain of The Curragh in County Kildare is at the very centre of Ireland’s thoroughbred horse industry and the racecourse, in addition to regular race days, hosts all five Irish flat-racing Classics: including the oldest, the Irish Derby, originating in 1866.

Today’s three-day iconic derby festival in June is one of the country’s biggest social and sporting occasions, a whirl of music, dancing, fashion and racing that attracts some of the world’s top horses and jockeys. It’s glamorous (with prizes for best-dressed ladies on Ladies Day), and warm and friendly, the Irish way.
Horse racing at the Curragh

150 years of the Derby

150 years of the Derby
Even on non-racing days as you pass by in the early morning you’ll likely spot long lines of thoroughbreds training over the miles of flat, rich plains: the very same horses that win prestigious races around the globe.
As they pass by, do you hear echoes down the centuries?
The 5,000-acre Curragh Plains are, after all, one of Europe’s oldest grasslands. Legendary Fionn MacCumhaill and his warriors raced their horses here. There were 3rd-century chariot contests and 17th-century noblemen’s match racing. Cuireach, it turns out, is the Gaelic word for “racecourse”. Softer echoes carry tales of pre-Christian gatherings here of all the people of the Kingdom of Leinster, or of the 5th-century King of Leinster granting St Brigid all the land she could cover with her cloak – and it stretched out, right over the plains.  
Ladies enjoying a day at the races
Ladies taking a selfie with a winning jockey
Left: Two ladies enjoying a day at the races (Image via The Curragh Racecourse). Right: Ladies Day selfie with a jockey
Then in the beat of a heart and a hoof you’re back in the moment, swept away by the energy of galloping horses before you.
Horse and jockeys training on The Curragh plains
Horse and jockeys training on The Curragh plains

Visit Curragh Racecourse

Curragh Racecourse, Curragh, Kildare