On the Eastern edge of the city of Dublin, right next to the River Dodder, is the Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium. It is located in what was traditionally the dockland area of the Ringsend superb of the Irish capital and opened its doors for the first time in 1927. Despite being just a fifteen minute walk from the city centre of Dublin, you can get a free coach from Burgh Quay every Saturday when there’s racing on.
Sufficed to say, for a city that fames itself on good craic, tasty Guinness and being welcoming to people from all backgrounds, you’re in for a cracking night’s entertainment if you head to Shelbourne Park. It’s also certain to be something slightly different from the usual fare you’d get in Dublin! A real joy is that if you don’t know the city you can have a bit of an explore before heading off to the stadium with most racing taking place in the evening.
Race Days & Times
There’s a real array of choices for which day you’ll be able to head and watch racing at Shelbourne Park. Obviously, the biggest nights come at the weekend with Friday and Saturday nights extremely popular. If you’re not really a ‘head out on the weekend’ sort of person, though, you don’t need to worry. There’s also racing here on Tuesdays and Thursdays!
Timing wise, it’s all about the evening. On Thursdays and Fridays, the doors to the stadium open at 6.30pm. That’ll give you an hour and a half to have a drink and a bite to eat, if you fancy it, before the first race gets underway at 8pm. On Saturdays, everything shifts slightly earlier, so you can enter from 6pm and the first race starts at 7.40pm. Tuesdays aren’t actually a regular occurrence and the times change accordingly, so you’re best getting in touch with Shelbourne Park directly before heading down there.
- Ticket Prices: As with most greyhound stadiums, there are deals available if you want to have a bite to eat in the restaurant, as well as watch the racing. Most of the time, however, it’s €10 for an adult to enter Shelbourne Park and that price includes your Race Card.
- Getting There: The best way to get to the stadium is on the Dart; Grand Canal Station is just 5-minutes walk away, after all. Depending on where you’re leaving from, the centre of Dublin is about half an hour away on foot. If you’re more of a bus person then you’ll want to keep your eye out for the 1, the 15A, the 15B, the 27, the 47, the 56A, the 77A the 47 or the 84-N – all of which stop close by.
- Parking: There’s a car park on-site that you’ll have to pay €2 per car to park in. There’s on-street parking nearby, but keep your eye out for any parking restrictions that may be in place.
Jim Clarke, Paddy O’Donoghue, Patsy McAlinden and Jerry Collins came together in the early part of the 1920s with a plan to open a greyhound stadium in Dublin. They’d witnessed the success of Celtic Park in Belfast and believed that the sport would thrive in the land of the Liffey. They found a location in the dockland area of the city and on the 14th of May 1927 their dream became a reality when Shelbourne Park opened its doors for the first time. Rather impressively for a new racing location, the stadium boasted four in-house trainers back then in Billy Donoghue, Ben Scally, Mick Horan and Paddy Quigley.
In 1928, the stadium began hosting the Easter Cup – a competition that commemorated the Easter Rising that took place in Dublin in 1916. Between 1928 and 1931, the Irish Greyhound Derby had been held at Harold’s Cross Stadium, but in 1932, it made the move to Shelbourne Park and was won for the first time there by Guideless Joe – a dog trained by Mick Horan. From then on the Derby alternated its location between Shelbourne and Harold’s Cross, as did another prestigious competition called the Oaks.
By the 1960s, there was a real threat to the stadium’s very existence. Plans to redevelop it into something different were gathering pace. The Irish Greyhound Board, officially known as the ‘Bord na gCon’, had installed a brand new totalisator system there in 1960 and in 1968 they decided to end speculation about the stadium’s future by buying it outright. They ploughed £240,000 into it and, as a result,the Irish Derby moved there permanently. It had always been one of Ireland’s best greyhound stadiums, but when Celtic Park was closed in 1983, Shelbourne Park officially became the premier track on the Emerald Isle.