- Equestrian Sports
- An illustration taken
from the Illustrated London News 1850 of horses and riders about to start
- Carlow County
As early as 1765, there was an account of horse
races held in Carlow.
The events of the day also featured public
breakfasts and cockfighting, while race balls were held in the evenings.
In the period 1760's up to circa 1810, races were held on six days a week.
By the 1840's the number of race days had been reduced to three and to two
by the 1860's.
In the late 1700's William Montgomery of Burrin
Street, Carlow was Clerk of the racecourse. All horses intending to run
had to be registered with the Clerk eight days before the race and there
was an entrance fee of one guinea. The owner of the winning horse was also
charged five shillings for scales and straw. Subscribers were asked to
send subscriptions to Francis Dillon, Esquire; Treasurer. Examples of
other regulations pertaining to these early race meetings were "No wine or
ale tent to be pitched on the Race ground, but by the inhabitants of the
County of Carlow; wine tents paying 11s. 4d. half. Ale tents 5s. 5d. each.
Such persons are erect tents on the road near the race ground, are to pay
the proprietor of the ground, the same as it erected with the course."
These races called the Carlow Races were also
more commonly known as the Ballybar Races.
Carlow Hunt 1913
This picture was probably taken a short time prior to the
start of the 1st World War and was probably the last time the Carlow
Hunt met here. It is topical now as on that site the new extension
to the Sacred Heart Home is being constructed. It was there that the
United Irishmen were publicly flogged and tortured after the 1798
Insurrections. It was also used as an exercise ground for prisoners
awaiting trial during the troubled periods before and after the
The different British regiments which were stationed there
used it for different training purposes up to the beginning of 1922.
Photo by courtesy of Sister M. Vianney, Sacred Heart Home,
County Carlow has a rich
and varied sporting history. There are reports of handball, hurling,
football and horse racing taking place in the county in the eighteenth
Horse racing took place
annually at Ballybar near Carlow town in the 1760's. There was racing at
Ballon at a later date. Fox hunting was popular, and during the hunting
season packs would travel the picturesque County of Carlow hunting the
energetic and cunning fox.
Throughout the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries athletics tournaments were held in the county. In
his book '1798 in Carlow' William Farrell describes "many athletic
exercises so well known to Irishmen as hurling, football, cudgelling,
tennis or handball, leaping, wrestling, vaulting, throwing the sledge or
bar or grinding-stone", taking place in the county.
Farrell praises highly the
quality of handballers and states that Carlow has "one of the best
ball-courts in Ireland". Gaelic games are still extremely popular in
Carlow. The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was founded in Carlow in
1888 to promote gaelic games.
Other field sports played
with great enthusiasm in the county were cricket, polo and rugby. Colonel
Horace Rochfort of Clogrennan was the founder of Carlow Cricket Club, and
founder and first secretary of the All-Ireland Polo Club at Phoenix Park
in Dublin having founded the Carlow Polo Club in 1873. He was the founder
president of the County Carlow Rugby Football Club in 1873. Teams played
at Tinypark House and varies other venues in Carlow.
The River Barrow provided
an excellent venue for the setting up of a Rowing Club in the county.
However races and regattas had taken place in private boat-houses prior to
establishment of the rowing club in circa 1860. The Carlow Rowing Club is
still competing at all levels.
Carlow Golf Club [Leinster
Golf Club] wasn't formed until 1899. The original grounds were at Gotham
midway between Carlow and Maganey. The club moved to Oak Park in 1922.
Golf has grown to be one of the most popular sports and pastimes in the
county. The Deerpark course is set in a mature wooded area with pleasant
countryside near Carlow town.
The Community Games were
established in County Carlow in 1973. P.L. Curran was the first Chairman
and Sr. Carmel Terry the first Secretary. The movement's main aim is
participation regardless of results. Many young Carlow people from the
community games have achieved sporting honours in adult life. Among them
are T.J. Kearns of Rathvilly in 110m hurdles, the Amond sisters in
sprints, Paul McNally in cycling, Kenneth Kane in handball, Patricia and
Carlina Breen in draughts and Roisin Dermody in competitions for the
visually challenged. The first County final was held in St. Patrick's
College, Carlow in 1973. In that year, Mary Amond won gold at the National
finals in Mosney
Community Games in
Carlow is currently in the top three counties in
Ireland for participation and success at national level. The Community
Games movement continues to flourish in County Carlow. Originally there
were 18 areas in the county but now there are 14 areas. However the entire
county is still represented.
- These areas are
- St. Mary's
- St. Lazerian's
- Slaney Valley
In 2004, Carlow County Council presented Carlow
Community Games with an award for services to the community.
For more information on Community Games in Carlow
please contact the Secretary, Mrs Eileen Lyons (059) 6471335 or the PRO,
Mr. Brian Griffin (059) 9140832 or by email
The information contained
in these pages is provided solely for the purpose of sharing
with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects,
IGP TM By
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