Fairyhouse, County Meath is the scene for one of the most important steeplechase races for horses in the Republic of Ireland. The “Big Race” is part of the Fairyhouse Easter Festival Race Meeting and always takes place on Easter Monday. Have a look at our brief guide for some interesting facts about the race…
The first Irish Grand National was held in Fairyhouse in 1870, and was won by a horse called Sir Robert Peel.
The Irish Grand National has only been cancelled twice in its long and glorious history. On both occasions it was because of the World Wars – 1919 and 1941.
The race, which takes place on Easter Monday of each year, is a handicap steeplechase and is run over a distance of 3 miles and 5 furlongs. The horses also have 23 fences to jump.
The Grand National is the feature race of the Fairyhouse Easter Racing Festival, which starts on Easter Sunday. Racing enthusiasts will be pleased to know that an extra day has been added to the festival this year, with racing carrying on till Wednesday.
Past equine greats to take the coveted prize include Arkle, Fortria, Flyingbolt and Desert Orchid. The late former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, owned the 1995 winner, Flashing Steel. Ryanair Supremo, Michael O’Leary won last year’s Grand National with his horse, Hear the Echo.
It is quite an achievement for any horse to win the Irish Grand National once, but The Gift won the race in 1883 and 1884 and Brown Lad won in 1975, 1976 and 1978.
The Dreaper family certainly have the winning formula when it comes to the Irish Grand National. Tom Dreaper has trained 10 winners of the race. This includes 7 wins in a row in the early 1960′s. Tom’s son Jim has trained 4 winners.
If you would like to know more about this event, please take a look at the Irish Grand National website.
How to get there – by Car
From the North
Follow Motorway (M1) and Road (N1) to Drogheda. Follow signs to Duleek to leave by Mary Street (R125). At junction with R150 keep forward, at junction with N2 turn Left (signposted Dublin). Turn right at junction with R155 (signposted Ratoath). Forward over crossroads at Ratoath and Fairyhouse Racecourse is located on the left.
From the City Centre take N3 towards Navan, passing Blanchardstown Shopping Centre on your left. Proceed for approx. 6 miles to a sign for Ratoath/Fairyhouse. Turn right onto R155 and proceed for two miles. Fairyhouse Racecourse is located on the right.
From the West
After Enfield take Motorway (M4) Dublin. At roundabout (signposted M50) Northbound) take first exit to join Motorway (M50). Proceed through toll bridge exiting onto N3 (Cavan/Navan). At next roundabout (edge of Blanchardstown) proceed forward for approx. 6 miles to a sign for Ratoath / Fairyhouse. Turn right onto R155 and proceed for two miles. Fairyhouse Racecourse is located on the right.
From the South
Take N7 towards Dublin, at Red Cow roundabout take M50 Northbound. Proceed through toll bridge exiting onto N3 (Cavan/Navan). At next roundabout (edge of Blanchardstown) proceed forward for approx. 6 miles to a sign for Ratoath / Fairyhouse. Turn right onto R155 and proceed for two miles. Fairyhouse Racecourse is located on the right.
Getting to Fairyhouse by Public Transport
Dublin Bus run a return shuttle service from Dublin to the racecourse on race days. Please take a look at the Dublin Bus website for further information.
Want to be part of the excitement on Irish Grand National Day? Why not have a look at our Dublin Hotels page to see what’s on offer.
Have you been to Fairyhouse for a previous Irish Grand National Event? Why not drop us a few lines in the comments box below about your experience – we would love to hear from you!