TV presenter Mairead Farrell at the Curragh reopening in May
The new Curragh Racecourse was officially opened on Sunday, May 26, during a spectacular opening ceremony by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar and His Highness the Aga Khan.
The centrepiece of the redeveloped racecourse is The Aga Khan Stand which can cater for up to 6,000 people over four levels. Thousands of people attended the Grand Opening Weekend which marked the historic opening of the new Curragh Racecourse. The two year, multi million euro redevelopment includes the spectacular new The Aga Khan Stand, refurbished stable yards and parade ring and bespoke facilities including conference capabilities and restaurants.
In addition, the gallops which are located across the Curragh plains have also been upgraded. The Aga Khan Stand’s striking 7,000 square metre roof can be seen from across the Curragh and provides valuable shelter for racegoers during inclement weather. There is also in-door and sheltered vantage points looking straight onto the track.
Commenting on the opening, An Taoiseach said: “The Curragh has always played an important part in the story of our country and, thanks to this new development, we can be confident that it will play an important role in our future as well.
“ The Government, through Horse Racing Ireland, invested over €36 million in this project, about 40% of the total cost, because we recognised the significance of the Curragh to Irish society.”
Commenting at the opening, Padraig McManus, Chairman of the Curragh Racecourse said: “Today is a significant milestone not just for the Curragh Racecourse but for the entire racing industry and the county of Kildare. We are delighted that we now have the facilities for our racegoers that match our world-class race track.”
The stand’s 7,000 square metre roof contains 1,400 tonnes of structural steel, 8,900 tonnes of precast concrete and 4,300 square metres of glazing. The materials for the new grandstand were chosen for their links to local flora, geology and the rural context in which they are set.
The parade ring has been expanded to over 180 square metres with a theoretical six metres for each horse.
A landmark at the Curragh ‘The Queen’s Room’ has been restored to its former glory and relocated as a standalone feature close to the parade ring having been moved and reassembled block by block from its previous location.
It will serve as a place for race winners to be welcomed back to. The Queen’s Room was built in 1853 and in 1861 hosted the visit of Queen Victoria who was in the Curragh to visit her son the Prince of Wales (Edward VII).
Two large leather feature walls are located on the second floor. These unique hand-crafted leather etchings of the local area and of the Racecourse were created by local master craftsman, Garvan de Bruir.
There are four floors with the first two floors including a café, food court, bars and tote facilities. Level three and four have a variety of bars, restaurants and hospitality suites.
Meanwhile, chief executive of the Curragh Racecourse, Derek McGrath, announced in July that he would step down from his post.
He has been replaced by Pat Keogh, the chief executive of Leopardstown Racecourse. Mr Keogh said after his appointment that he would work to improve attendance figures at the course.
“This has got to be the racecourse of the community.
“That’s how the Curragh will succeed, with the local community saying ‘this is our racecourse and we’re very proud of it’. And I know they want it to succeed,” he said.