Is there a more uniquely beautiful backdrop to a racecourse, than that of Killarney’s mountains and lakes on a summer’s day or even a misty one?
Killarney, Co. Kerry – otherwise known as ‘The Kingdom’, is in the South West of Ireland. It’s a tourist hotspot, so nearly all-year round, plenty of life to be found in the town itself.
There is a local airport – Kerry airport at Farranfore, which has limited routes, within Ireland and to the UK. Outside of that Cork is the nearest international airport, which is about 50 minutes drive away.
Killarney’s train station is centrally located in the town, so if arriving by train and you are staying in town, you can just walk to most hotels.
Killarney has accommodation to suit all budgets, from hostels, to B&Bs and guesthouses, to the 5* hotels like the Killarney Park in the centre of town and any range of hotel in between. I always stay at the McSweeney Arms Hotel: https://www.mcsweeneyarms.ie/ Good value, comfortable, friendly owners, with a superb breakfast and more central a location you could not get.
Again, Killarney has an abundance of options here, you won’t need a guide to help you on your way here. Recent additions to the dining scene which I can recommend are: The Mad Monk and Kitty O’Se’s – predominantly fish restaurants.
The racecourse is situated on the Ross Road, which on foot would take you about 20-25 minutes to walk from the centre of town. There is parking – both on the course and in the surrounding residential area.
There are no enclosures, it’s usually a flat entry fee of €20.
The 3 annual festivals are in May, July & August. See here for more detail: https://killarneyraces.ie/
There is a mix of National Hunt & flat racing, with some mixed cards.
In July & August there are best-dressed competitions for both ladies and gentlemen, so the style factor tends to be high on these days.
There is a restaurant for the general public which offers a good standard of food, although the dining area might be lacking for the more sophisticated punter. Hospitality packages are available in the annual members block for day visitors.
The bars are lively and on the big days packed to the rafters. I would probably recommend the 1st floor bar of the 1st stand on your left as you come in, which also has good viewing to the winning post. The other main bar is tucked under the 2nd stand closer to the parade ring, but this gets really swamped. This is also where the restaurant is.
A broad spectrum of racegoers, from the local farmer, to the blow-ins from other parts of Ireland and beyond. It’s a real party atmosphere, probably in part due to Killarney being a really social town and the fact that their racing takes place in the (hoped for) sunny halcyon days of summer.
A great, informal experience at one of the world’s most scenic tracks. Friendly, easy-going, the quality of racing couldn’t ever be considered as ‘must see’, but many a future star has broken their maiden at Killarney, such as Kew Gardens.