A 150-YEAR tradition of racing horses in Drimoleague on St Stephen’s Day came to a sudden halt last week.
Jim McCarthy, vice-chairman of the Drimoleague Road Race Committee, told The Southern Star that the event – which costs €10,000 to stage, including the cost of insurance and a €5,000 prize fund – was cancelled because there were only 16 entries.
Mr McCarthy said: ‘The event that normally attracts around 35 entries would actually have been our 149th, so we will have to make a big effort for our 150th in 2019.’
The vice-chairman admitted that the committee decision to call it off was ‘disappointing – very disappointing for the community, the people of Drimoleague, and the surrounding areas.’
He said: ‘It could be a one-off thing due to the increased costs, because it is clear that costs are affecting every sport – we just don’t know.’
The only other time that the races were cancelled was in 1918 when the Black and Tans prohibited the gathering of large groups and again, in 1968, during an outbreak of Foot and Mouth. There were a few other occasions when the races were postponed due to bad weather, but they always went ahead at a later date – never before was it a case of insufficient entries.
Normally, Mr McCarthy said, large crowds would gather in Drimoleague for races that ranged between one and two miles because the Dunmanway road – with the permission of Cork County Council – would be closed to vehicular traffic.
‘It was always great day,’ said Mr McCarthy, ‘and we are hopeful that we will be back on track next year.’