Thundering Hooves

Throughout Ireland’s Ancient East, where legends linger, history follows. Legend has it that Fionn mac Cumhaill and his warriors ran their horses on the ancient plains of the Curragh. History tells us that the chariots of 3rd century kings and chieftains raced here.

Feel like royalty as you immerse yourself in the sport of kings at any of the numerous racecourses sprinkled throughout the region. Indulge in the thrill of a race day experience you won’t forget with racing and events throughout the year.
Spectators enjoying the race day atmosphere
Horses racing
Ladies Day at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
Left: Spectators enjoying the race day atmosphere | Middle: Neck and neck at the Curragh | Right: Ladies Day at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open

Summer racing

Enjoy a day of fun and excitement in the summer sunshine. Feel the exhilaration as your heart tries to keep pace with the hooves thundering around the course at unbelievable speed. Lap up the ambience in the packed stands as punters hold their breath with anticipation, whoop at their victories or curse their defeat – all in a cheerful buzz of comradery. Eye up a potential winner or celebrate the champions in the glorious theatre of the parade ring as you sip on a glass of your favourite tipple.

Admire the elegance and colour of ladies days or enjoy the summer party atmosphere of the music nights, creating memories you and your friends will treasure long after the final bet has been placed.
Racing at Laytown
Watching the Laytown races
Left: Jockeys racing at Laytown | Right: Spectators enjoying the Laytown races

Autumn racing

Say goodbye to summer with a unique fixture on the Irish racing calendar – the Laytown Races. As Ireland’s only official beach race event, Laytown Races have been drawing crowds to this County Meath village for generations.

According to local folklore the races were started by the parish priest in 1876 on Laytown’s three miles of golden strand. In 1901 local landowner, Paddy Delaney, established the more formalised event we know today. Nothing, not even two World Wars, has stopped it taking place annually since then. 
Make the most of the still bright, September evenings with a last family day at the beach!

Winter racing

Blow away the cobwebs as you pull on coats, scarves and gloves and prepare yourself for a feast of festive fun. 

The twinkle of lights, the nip of frost in the air and the electric buzz of excitement help to create the magical feel of the Christmas Festivals of racing at Leopardstown and Limerick racecourses.

The sound of the hooves drumming across the course combined with the cheers of the crowd, creates a soundtrack to rival any Christmas songs as you huddle together laughing and comparing bets. Keep warm with a hot whiskey or mulled wine while trying to pick a winner – but you already have picked one – you picked one of the best ways to spend a winter’s day!

Spring racing

As the New Year progresses and spring gets closer, you cast your eye over future stars of the racing scene in midweek action at Tramore, Thurles, Clonmel. As the weather warms the action on the racing scene also heats up with the long-established trials days at Naas, Navan, Gowran Park and Leopardstown.

These entertainment packed days certainly whet the appetite for the end of season extravaganzas at Fairyhouse and Punchestown where we can expect to see the leading players from Cheltenham and Aintree.

Sign at the entrance to the Irish National Stud
Visiting the stables at the Irish National Stud
Left: The entrance to the Irish National Stud | Right: Visiting the National Stud's stables

Get active

If your love of horses extends beyond the race track why not ride off into the sunset as you explore the countryside on horseback, trek along country trails, in old estates and ancient woodlands, or sample the gentle pace of a horse drawn caravan?

A visit to Kildare’s Irish National Stud is a must for the equine enthusiast where you will unearth tales of stallions and their fate, meet some of racing’s “living legends” and discover where a number of the greats of Irish and International racing were born and raised.

Nowhere better symbolises all that is great about County Kildare, the beating heart of Ireland's thoroughbred industry, than the stud, a unique attraction of outstanding natural beauty that is home to some of the most magnificent horses and sumptuous gardens to be found anywhere in the world.

From horses to horticulture, the Irish National Stud & Gardens offers you a unique experience that can be enjoyed at your own leisure or as part of a guided tour.

Or enjoy a day out at the Fethard Horse Country Experience as you explore the role of horses in Irish society through an interactive exhibition. Located in a 17th century Thosel house, the Fethard Horse Country Experience also offers tours of Coolmine Stud, one of Ireland's most famous horse farms. 

So what are you waiting for? Play the odds, raise a glass and uncover history and legends while enjoying good times with friends as you horse around in Ireland’s Ancient East.

For more attractions and activities
 check out the See & Do section