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  • News

Eamonn harks backs to Tuam Races of 1951

Wednesday, 20th July, 2011 10:15am

By TOM GILMORE

NEXT FRIDAY, July 29, the Galway Races will be in full swing. But few of the punters will remember the Friday of Race Week 50 years ago when the Tuam Races took pride of place in Parkmore Racecourse, with a large prize fund, for the time, of £1,000. [private]

 

The racecourse was established in 1905 and from then until 1973 the Tuam Races were held on the Friday, which was the fourth day of the Galway Races.

This week, as racing fever hits Galway and the West, Tuam shopkeeper Eamonn Geraghty has a piece of nostalgia on the window of his gent's outfitters where he proudly displays a poster for the Tuam Races from August 3, 1951.

Eamonn says that this was also the time that the film The Quiet Man was being shot in this area, some of it at Ballyglunin Railway Station, which had its name changed to Castletown for the film.

That year, as in most years, the Galway Races straddled the calendar into August. The racing dates stretched into August too when the final Tuam Races were held in Parkmore on Friday, August 3, 1973.

But according to the poster for the Tuam Races of 50 years ago the women fared better than the men when paying to get into the Grand Stand.

The admission charges were seven shillings and six pence for "gentlemen" and five shillings for "ladies".

But there was no sexism in the price for people going into the "public enclosure" as this was one shilling for everybody. If you brought your car into the public enclosure it cost two shillings and six pence to do so back in 1951.

"I believe that there was a lot of excitement around this area and apart from the large crowds at the Tuam Races this was also due to the film crews being here to shoot The Quiet Man, says Eamonn Geraghty. John Wayne, who played the lead male role in the film, opposite Maureen O'Hara, visited Geraghty's shop that year and purchased a cap there.

Eamonn says it's a pity that the 50th anniversary of the filming of The Quiet Man has gone almost unnoticed in Ballyglunin, and other areas of Galway, which were almost as central to its success as was Cong, always linked with it.

The long-standing international success of The Quiet Man still attracts thousands of tourists to Cong each year, the Galway Races are now a seven day event, but the Tuam Races are a fast fading memory for many. A housing estate now covers much of Parkmore where the races were once held annually on the fourth day of the Galway Races.

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