Saturday 1 June 2024

Horsepower and Hops: Ireland's Most Scenic Racecourses and Their Traditional Pub Neighbours

Horsepower and Hops: Ireland's Most Scenic Racecourses and Their Traditional Pub Neighbours
Ireland, the Emerald Isle, is renowned for its lush landscapes, storied history, and rich cultural traditions. Among these traditions, horse racing holds a special place, intertwining the natural beauty of the countryside with the thrill of the sport. Complementing this experience, Ireland's traditional pubs offer the perfect end to an exhilarating day at the races, providing a cozy setting to unwind with a pint of Guinness or a warming whiskey. Here, we explore some of the most scenic Irish racecourses and the charming pubs nearby that complete the quintessential Irish experience.

The Curragh Racecourse and Hartes of Kildare: 

Located in County Kildare, the Curragh Racecourse is steeped in history and surrounded by the breathtaking Curragh Plains. This premier racecourse is home to many of Ireland’s classic flat races, including the Irish Derby. The expansive green plains and undulating hills offer a picturesque backdrop that captivates racegoers.

Just a short drive away, Hartes of Kildare in the town of Kildare is the perfect spot to soak in the local ambiance after a day at the races. This traditional pub combines rustic charm with modern comforts, offering a menu that highlights local produce and an impressive selection of craft beers and spirits. The warm, inviting atmosphere and friendly service make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Galway Racecourse and O’Connell’s Bar:

Perched on the edge of the vibrant city of Galway, the Galway Racecourse, also known as Ballybrit, is famed for its lively summer festival that attracts thousands from around the globe. The racecourse's setting is idyllic, with views stretching over Galway Bay and the rugged Connemara landscape, creating a unique and exhilarating racing environment.

After the excitement of the races, a visit to O’Connell’s Bar in the heart of Galway City is a must. This historic pub, dating back to the 19th century, boasts a traditional decor with cozy snugs and a large beer garden. Known for its authentic atmosphere and extensive whiskey collection, O’Connell’s is the perfect place to enjoy the vibrant nightlife that Galway is known for.

Killarney Racecourse and The Laurels Pub:

Killarney Racecourse, set in the stunning County Kerry, offers one of the most scenic racing experiences in the world. Nestled between the magnificent Lakes of Killarney and the towering MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountain range, the racecourse provides breathtaking views that enhance the excitement of the races.

The Laurels Pub, located in Killarney town, is a short distance from the racecourse and is renowned for its lively atmosphere and traditional Irish music sessions. With its wood-paneled walls, roaring fireplaces, and hearty menu featuring local favorites, The Laurels is an ideal spot to relax and relive the day’s highlights over a few drinks.

Leopardstown Racecourse and Johnnie Fox’s Pub:

Leopardstown Racecourse, situated just outside Dublin, is one of Ireland's premier racing venues, offering a blend of high-class racing and stunning surroundings. The Dublin Mountains provide a scenic backdrop to the modern facilities and well-maintained tracks, making it a favorite among racing enthusiasts.

A trip to Leopardstown would be incomplete without a visit to Johnnie Fox’s Pub, one of Ireland’s oldest and most famous pubs. Located in the picturesque village of Glencullen, this pub is known for its traditional Irish fare, live music, and unique atmosphere. The cozy interior, filled with antiques and memorabilia, along with the breathtaking views from its mountain perch, makes Johnnie Fox’s a memorable end to a day at the races.


Ireland's racecourses are not just venues for thrilling horse races; they are gateways to some of the country's most scenic landscapes and cultural treasures. Pairing a day at the races with an evening in a traditional Irish pub provides an authentic and unforgettable experience, blending the best of Ireland’s natural beauty, vibrant social scene, and deep-rooted traditions. Whether you're a racing enthusiast or a casual traveler, these racecourses and their neighboring pubs offer a perfect slice of Irish life.

Photo: Pixanay (free)