The Irish city of Kilkenny, located in County Kilkenny in the Southern part of the country, is perhaps best known for Kilkenny Castle. For those of you with a sporting inclination, however, Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium might well be somewhere that you’re interested in knowing more about. Opening in 1946 and boasting a couple of respected trophies, the stadium can be found in the North-West part of the city.
If you’re a seasoned greyhound race-goer, then you’ll enjoy the simply facilities that Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium has to offer, whilst if you’ve never been before then you’ll find yourself welcomed by the friendly staff who are happy to explain how it all works. Though everyone is welcome, the basic nature of the set-up here means that it’s perhaps not quite as family friendly a location as other greyhound tracks around Ireland. It’s still well worth a visit, though.
Kilkenny Greyhound Racing Company Limited
Race Days & Times
As with most greyhound race tracks, you could drive past the stadium in Kilkenny on almost any given day and be forgiven for thinking that there was some real racing going on. Most of the time that’s just trials, though, so if you’re wanting to head along when the venue is open to the public you’ll be heading there on a Wednesday or a Friday.
It’s all about the early evening racing at Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium, so you’ll be able to enter the place from around 5.30pm in preparation for a first race starting at 6.30pm. There are spots where you can get a drink or a snack to eat, but this isn’t the same as some venues where they boast a huge glass-fronted restaurant with seating for 200 people. It’s much more about the pure aspect of the racing itself.
- Ticket Prices: Both adults and senior citizens will be asked to pay €10 for their entry to the stadium. Students get a reduced price of €4 with kids under-16 being able to enter for free.
- Getting There: Kilkenny (MacDonagh) Train Station is about twenty minutes walk away, with the Sycamores Bus Station being just moments from the stadium. The track is actually on the R693, which is itself reachable from the N76 if you’re driving.
- Parking: There are some limited parking spaces at the stadium, so you’ll be able to leave your car there whilst you watch the action.
The first ever winner of any official race at Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium was Rebel Gunner, who won the inaugural run on the 5th of June in 1946. Though the track drew some attention during its opening year, the management felt that it lacked a real identity of its own and wanted to give the industry’s biggest names a reason to visit. That was why, in 1947, they decided to introduce the McCalmont Cup. Their plan worked; over the following few years the great and the good of Irish greyhound racing turned up to Kilkenny. This included Spanish Battleship, a three time Irish Greyhound Derby champion, who won the cup in 1954 and then again in 1955.
Despite the relative success of the McCalmont Cup, the track’s popularity never really sky rocketed. That was, in part, due to its odd shape, meaning that it is both a decent track for galloping but also slightly too tight. As a result, the management also introduced the Hurst Cup and the Great Whistler Cup, hoping to draw even more attention to itself. All of this was done under the watchful eye of the Racing Manager, Jimmy Kinahan. He was in his position when the track opened and remained there until he died in 1978. At that point, he was taken over in the role by John O’Flynn who also put in a good stint, staying in place for twenty years.
Kilkenny Greyhound Stadium is actually located in St James Park, which was owned by the Agricultural Society. They would often use the surrounding land to host show jumping, bull sales and the like. Bord na gCon bought a stake in the track from the society and in 2006 they pledged €5 million towards the track’s regeneration. The plan was to demolition all of the ageing structures and install a brand new stand – complete with all of the facilities you’d expect from a top-class greyhound stadium. Sadly, that regeneration never took place as Kilkenny was deemed to be ‘not viable’ for such funds. On the 30th of January 2009 the stadium’s doors were closed, possibly for the final time.
Thankfully, a group of supporters, breeders and greyhound owners from the local area believed that it still had plenty going for it, so they joined together to form the Kilkenny Track Supporters Club. The stadium re-opened on the 17th of May in 2009 and has remained open since. The club spoke to the IGB and between them funding was provided to see the entire track re-laid, as well as the installation of a new hare system and new safety railing. It may not be the biggest track in Ireland, but it remains important to the local economy.