While greyhound racing might not have as big of a following in Ireland as its counterpart horse racing, with numbers falling drastically in the last few years, it still has a small, yet dedicated following who enjoy a night at the dogs and a small flutter on a greyhound bet.
There are still some 14 historic venues recognised by Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) however, just six less than the entire United Kingdom, with iconic stadia dotted all over the picturesque Emerald Isle — from Shelbourne Park in Dublin down to Curraheen Park in Cork.
That said, let’s take a look at some of the best greyhound racing stadiums in Ireland. Read on to find out more!
Home to the Irish Greyhound Derby, where better to start than with Shelbourne Park? In the heart of Dublin, Shelbourne Park first hosted Ireland’s most prestigious race in 1932, controversially taking it from Harolds Cross where it was inaugurated in 1928. The two venues would alternate hosting duties until 1967 when Shelbourne Park took sole responsibility.
The Dublin venue is also the home to the Champion Stakes, the St Leger and the Easter Cup — making it by far one of the most popular tracks in the country and giving it worldwide recognition. A €2.3m redevelopment plan announced by the GRI last year means Shelbourne Park will remain the beating heart of Irish greyhound racing for years to come.
Limerick Greyhound Stadium
One of the newest greyhound racing stadiums in Ireland, Limerick Greyhound Stadium replaced the old Markets Field Greyhound Stadium in 2010 — costing a huge €18 million to build. Almost 3,000 punters turned up for the opening night, while the GRI’s headquarters also based on site.
Keeping up with tradition, the St Leger is held at Limerick Greyhound Stadium after it was inaugurated at Markets Field way back in 1940. The Kirby Memorial Stakes, worth a massive €80,000 to the winner, is another major race that takes place in Limerick.
Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium
Cork is a city steeped in greyhound racing history, with the old Cork Greyhound Stadium once playing host to race nights. Now though, the modern Curraheen Park offers up the thrills of greyhound racing to the people of Cork and those that travel from afar.
The Laurels was first held at the old Cork Greyhound Stadium in 1944 and was moved to Curraheen when it became the new home of greyhound racing in the city in 2000. The Grand National, one of the premier races of the season for hurdlers, is also held at the stadium.
Galway Greyhound Stadium
Probably the biggest greyhound stadium in Ireland, Galway can accommodate up to 9,000 spectators as the venue is also the home of United Rugby Championship outfit Connaught — although it’s unlikely they will ever have a crowd that size these days, even if the racing coinciding with the rugby does help bolster attendances.
The Champion Bitch Stake is the feature race at Galway, with the sites offering the best greyhound racing tips going into overdrive in the build up to the contest.
Kingdom Greyhound Stadium
Opening its doors in 1930, the Kingdom Greyhound Stadium — once known as Oakview Park and Tralee Greyhound Stadium — has stood the test of time in Tralee, County Kerry on the southwest coast of Ireland.
Much-needed funding and fairly new races like the Juvenile Classic and the Race of Champions, which were inaugurated in 2007 and 2008 respectfully, mean that this once secluded course now gets the recognition it deserves.