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Naas – Chapter 2 ­– The Roaring Twenties

From ‘The Centenary of Naas Racecourse (1924-2024) – Nursery of Champions’ by Turtle Bunbury.

Back to Naas 100 Contents

 

The Passing of Miss McEvoy

 

On 20 May 1920, the community of Naas learned of the passing of Miss Anne McEvoy (1836-1920).[1] The 84-year-old had been proprietor of the town’s Globe Hotel on Poplar Square since the death of her mother over half a century earlier. [2] The hotel had been in existence for almost a century; William Makepeace Thackeray wrote approvingly of it after a stay there in 1842. In Thackeray’s day, the stagecoach stopped outside the Globe during its long journeys between Cork and Dublin. The building is now known as Norton House, or St Anne’s Hall.

As well as the Globe, Miss McEvoy owned the Tipper farm at Kingsfurze on the eastern edge of Naas. Comprising of just over 111 acres, it was regarded as ‘one of the best mixed farms’ in County Kildare. Miss McEvoy had ‘spared no trouble or expense’ in bringing her lands to a ‘high state of luxuriant cultivation’. [3] Her farm was ‘conveniently laid out in suitable divisions … well fenced, sheltered and watered, and admirably adapted for grazing and tillage.’

In the wake of Miss McEvoy’s death, her executors were instructed to place the Tipper farm on the market. On 10 July, the Naas auctioneer Michael Fitzsimons placed a notice in the local press: ‘a highly important sale of a splendid grass and tillage farm’ with a ‘comfortable house and extensive farm offices thereon’. Willia­m Fry and Sons, the Dublin solicitors, would have carriage of sale.

The public auction took place at Naas Town Hall on Wednesday 21 July 1920, the day of the Naas Fair. There were two bids. The first came from the Naas solicitor Stephen J. Brown (1867-1931) who was renting all but six acres of Miss McEvoy’s land. Mr Brown was founder of Brown & McCann solicitors. He was also the founder and former chairman of the Naas Carpet Factory, which collapsed in 1913, not long after the sinking of the Titanic, a ship that boasted at least two Naas-manufactured carpets. [3a]

The second was from local solicitor Daniel P. Blayney on behalf of some men who proposed to establish a race company. Neither offer reached the reserve price and the farm was withdrawn from offer. However, that night, a price of £4,250 was agreed between the executors and three unidentified ‘gentlemen’ representing the race company. It appears the idea of this company had only been mooted a week earlier but, when local guarantors were sought, 20 men promptly stepped forward to guarantee £200 each towards the venture. Another 10 joined the list over the ensuing week. [4]

And so it was that Miss McEvoy’s farm was sold to a syndicate of thirty men whose collective ambition was to build a racecourse. On 26 July 1920, the Naas Race Committee was formed as a limited liability company, with Thomas Whelan as its honourable secretary. [5] The committee would require much patience over the coming years.

 

The Hold-Up

 

It transpired that while Miss McEvoy’s land was undoubtedly luxuriant, there was not quite enough room for the desired five-furlong course. In January 1921, the committee’s prayers appeared to have been answered when an adjoining farm owned by James O’Hanlon unexpectedly came on the market, giving them the land required for the five-furlong run.

A more serious hold-up concerned two paddocks in Naas East, also part of the original Tipper farm, which were considered vital to the entire racecourse scheme. These had been sold separately and were bought by the Naas Race Committee for £300. However, the paddocks, amounting to five acres, were held under a separate tenancy to the rest of the farm and had been leased by Colonel de Burgh to Stephen J. Brown, who had also leased 60 acres at Kingsfurze from Miss McEvoy. [6] (Perhaps these lands were where Mr Brown grazed his prize-winning Kerry cattle. See here.) Mr Brown was the underbidder when the Tipper farm was sold to the race company. [7] With those lands gone, he evidently felt threatened by the fate of his holding in Naas East, where his family home also stood. When the five-acre paddocks came up for sale on 11 February 1921, he was all set to buy them when he learned that they had already been sold to the race company by private arrangement via Michael Fitzsimons, a syndicate member. Mr Brown then took the dramatic step of purchasing the lease interest from Colonel de Burgh. This gave him the all-important veto over tenants. He then refused to accept the Naas Race Company as his tenants.

After fruitless negotiations with Mr Brown, the Naas Racecourse Company conceded defeat on 1 March 1921. They glumly leased their lands out for grazing and tillage in seven separate lots and, for the next two years, the Tipper farm was a vista of barley corn and meadow grass.

In June 1921, five ‘courteous’ but ‘persistent’ men called upon Stephen Brown and urged him to swap his five-acre paddocks for ‘a like quantity of land’ elsewhere in Kingsfurze. They explained their wish to build a race-stand on his land. He advised that the paddocks were ‘indispensable’ to him and maintained that the racecourse did not require them. The two sides again parted without resolution.

Eager to assist, Naas Urban Council held a ‘special meeting’ on 10 January 1922 to discuss the racecourse. No representatives of the Naas Racecourse Company appeared, which irked D.J. Purcell, the council chairman. ‘Perhaps they don’t read the local papers,’ he mused. [8] Maybe they were too busy preparing for the Kildare Hunt Ball in the Town Hall, Naas, that same evening – the first such ball since 1914.

Or perhaps they were more concerned by the fact that the special meeting took place on the very day that Éamon de Valera and 58 of his supporters walked out of Dáil Éireann in protest against the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The country would be hurled into a civil war within six months. [9]

Faced with Stephen Brown’s ‘point blank refusal’ to provide access to the paddocks, the Racecourse Company initiated a search for alternative lands for their course, with one option running through a Mr Kenny’s land. One week later, the company sent a deputation consisting of Francis Conway, Patrick Berney, Denis Dunne and Edward Timmons to lay out their position before the council. Impressed by the notion that constructing the racecourse might keep ‘20 or 30 men employed for a year or two’, the council appointed its own committee to look into the matter. [10]

The case was now the talk of the town, much to Mr Brown’s dismay. He published a long letter to the Kildare Observer, clarifying his position, denying that he had ever given a ‘point-blank refusal’ and stating that he had, in fact, been subject to a ‘vendetta of misrepresentation and threatened violence’ for several months. Thomas Whelan responded with another letter, also published in the Kildare Observer, stating that ‘…to lay out the proposed racecourse in the most convenient and effective manner, it would be expedient to acquire from Mr Brown a small portion of land, about eight statute acres in extent, adjoining the lands recently purchased by the committee.’ He observed that the NRC would not have expended £300 on the paddocks if they did not see them as a pivotal part of the project. He also slammed Mr Brown’s ‘public spirit’, maintaining that his refusal to sell was holding up a racecourse that already had ‘the warm approval of the majority of the residents of Naas and neighbourhood.’ The construction, he added, would ‘furnish employment to a large number of artizans and labourers, and … afterwards attract a vast amount of business to the town.’ [11]

On 2 February 1922, the Naas Urban Council held another special meeting during which Michael Fitzsimons conceded that the paddocks were ‘useful’ rather than ‘essential’. The councillors, who felt they had been misinformed by the Racecourse Committee, were further insulted when four of its committee members failed to show up to the meeting. The council maintained that they would not be ‘made tools of in this manner’ and that Mr Brown was ‘absolutely vindicated’. The Racecourse Committee was instructed to let Mr Brown be and to pursue an alternative course which may, as one engineer opined, have been a more viable option anyway. [12]

There the matter rested, with the Tipper farm being grazed, and Mr Brown’s paddocks no longer on the table for the racecourse. In time, the company would lease the required land from John Tyrrell, a well-known Kildare sportsman and racehorse owner.

Meanwhile, the fledgling Irish Free State continued to take shape. Just days after the council came down in favour of Mr Brown, the citizens of Naas watched the Royal Dublin Fusiliers sing The Wearing of the Green as they marched from the barracks to the railway station. [13] The last detachment of Black and Tans left the town on the evening train on 8 February. [14] Two days later, the racing community was shocked by the killing of John Wogan-Browne, a Great War veteran, whose parents lived at Keredern on the northern outskirts of Naas. A well-known rugby player, he was ambushed while collecting regimental wages from the Hibernian Bank in Kildare town. When he resisted his assailants, he was shot and killed.

 

Michael Fitzsimons, MIAA (1867-1953) – The Auctioneer

 

Michael Fitzsimons, the Naas auctioneer, was involved with the plans for the racecourse from earliest times. Born in 1867, he and his wife Katie (née Keely) had run a pub on North Main Street, Naas, since 1893. [15] Their only daughter died in infancy and Katie herself died in 1913. The following year, Michael married Bridget Agnes Doran, with whom he had three sons. A licensed auctioneer from 1904, Michael was a member of the Naas Urban Council for over 40 years, being elected chairman on several occasions. In 1947, his youngest son Patrick James Fitzsimons joined him in his auctioneering business. Michael died in 1953.

 

The First Race Day – A Point-to-Point

 

The Tipper farm may have been set aside for pasture but there was still enough ground for a racetrack. On the ice-cold afternoon of 15 March 1922, the Racecourse Committee hosted its first-ever event in the form of the Naas Harriers point-to-point races. [16] The Harriers had been founded four years earlier by the Naas-based saddler Patrick Berney, who was also one of the directors of the Naas Racecourse Committee. Starting as a mixed pack, the hounds would be kennelled at Jigginstown until 2000 when transferred to Punchestown.

The Nass point-to-point was the Harriers’ third-ever meeting, and the track clearly went down well with the punters. As the Kildare Observer remarked:

‘The gathering was of huge proportions seldom associated with an event of that kind. It was voted a very sporting course, and if favouring the racehorse type of hunter, there were also fences to trap him and give the legitimate hunter a chance, and such it proved in at least three of the races, especially the opening event, when seven fell at one obstacle.’ [17]

The Naas Race Committee also sponsored the day’s Farmers’ Race. Twenty-two horses competed in the event, which was won by Her Boy, ‘judiciously ridden by Mr E. C. Lawlor from Dunlavin’. [18] A sadder note was the fatal fall of a horse named Milltown. The following year’s point-to-point was held at Punchestown, two miles from Naas, but the Naas Race Committee maintained its connection by again sponsoring the Farmers’ Race.[19]

 

The Civil War

 

On 16 April 1922, a month after that first point-to-point, Naas received a visit from General Michael Collins and three other prominent Free State TDs, namely Joseph McGrath, M.J. Staines and Kevin O’Higgins.[20] Collins gave one of his trademark orations outlining the arguments for accepting the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Within 10 weeks, the Four Courts in Dublin was in flames and Ireland had tumbled into the chaos of a civil war.

The war reached Naas in a mildly comical manner on 16 July. The National Army Air Service (soon renamed the Irish Air Corps) dispatched a single-engine Bristol biplane from the Baldonnel aerodrome to commence the first combat patrol of the Civil War. It did not go according to plan. Sporting an Irish tricolour on both sides, the plane was spotted over Naas shortly before it crash-landed in a field at Ballycane belonging to no less a soul than Stephen J. Brown. Perhaps he thought the Naas Race Committee were attempting an aerial assassination. The aeroplane was badly beaten up, the observer knocked out, the pilot unscathed. It appears they had simply run out of fuel. [21]

 

Foundation of the Naas Race Company

 

Seemingly undaunted by the fog of war, the Naas Race Company was reportedly formed at a meeting on 26 August 1922. [22] It had been a momentous time in Irish history with the deaths of both Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins during the previous fortnight. The meeting was chaired by Thomas Whelan while its attendees included Patrick Berney, Michael Conway, Edward Dowling, Charles Farrell, Edward Brophy and James Conway, Jr. The last named individual was appointed secretary and manager.

The Civil War’s impact on County Kildare was highlighted again at the end of January 1923 when Palmerstown House, the residence of the 7th Earl of Mayo, became the latest of approximately 200 ‘big houses’ destroyed across the land. Lord Mayo, one of W.T. Cosgrave’s nominated senators in Seanad Éireann, was a major patron of the horse-racing industry generally, and breeding in particular. His father, the 6th Earl, had been master of the Kildare Hunt prior to his appointment as governor-general of India in 1869. The 6th Earl also established the Palmerstown Breeding Association for Improving the Breed of Horses in Ireland.

The war came a step closer to Naas on 17 February with the destruction of Mullaboden, General Sir Bryan Mahon’s home near Ballymore Eustace. General Mahon was one of the seven founding directors of the Naas Race Company. Armed with 70 tins of petrol stolen from an Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Company truck near Blessington, the raiders poured the fuel all over the general’s furniture and broke the house windows before applying the matches. One raider dressed himself in one of the general’s army tunics for a photo, while another carried a gramophone out of the house, placed it on the front steps, and wound it up so that music echoed around the crackling flames. Two grooms who came upon the scene while exercising horses were told to ‘clear off’ by a man wielding a short-barrelled shotgun. The house was thoroughly destroyed by the time the Curragh military fire brigade arrived on the scene. [23]

Another sign of the times was the cancellation of the Kellistown Races in neighbouring County Carlow in April 1923, while racegoers taking the train to Fairyhouse, County Meath were held up when a bridge on the line at Clonsilla was blown up. [24] The Curragh was also in the spotlight after 71 prisoners tunnelled out of its prison camp that same month.

 

Bold Ambitions

 

With the end of the Civil War in May 1923, the Naas Race Company took a pause and prepared for the next phase. They had not been idle in the interim and the Tipper farm was already taking the shape of a proper racecourse. The lands were inspected by ‘several experienced racing men, who … expressed unqualified approval of the proposed Racecourse and consider that its situation could not be excelled.’ Among these was Arthur Blennerhassett, the Inspector of Courses for both the Turf Club and the National Hunt Committee, who ‘gave his sanction to the laying out of the course as planned’.

With green lights from the authorities, the Naas Race Company Ltd was incorporated as a limited company in June 1923. Its immediate mission was to acquire the fee simple, i.e. absolute ownership, of the lands at Kingsfurze and parts of Maudlings. According to its Memorandum of Association, the company also sought to build ‘a course for steeplechasing and a course for flat racing, with a straight six-furlong course’, as well as ‘suitable motor and carriage enclosures’ and a grand-stand ‘for about 3,000 persons’. [25]

When the subscription list opened on 26 June, the prospectus informed its readers that the company’s authorised capital was £15,000, divided into 15,000 ordinary shares valued at £1 each. Some £6,000-worth of shares were to be paid to the six vendors, each of whom was also a director, who had conveyed the lands to the company. There was evidently no shortage of interested parties. Three days before the subscription list closed on 10 July, the press noted that ‘the necessary money for the new Naas Racecourse is almost subscribed. Several well-known celebrities have taken shares.’ [26]

 

The Founding Fathers

 

Now considered to be the founding fathers of Naas Racecourse, the chairman and eight original company directors were:

Chairman of Directors:

  • Thomas Whelan, Esq., North Main Street, Naas. Merchant.

Directors:

  • Charles Farrell, Esq., Ballynagappagh, Clane. Landowner.
  • Edward Brophy, Esq., Newlands, Naas. Landowner.
  • Patrick Berney, Esq., Silliot Hill, Kilcullen, Kildare. Landowner.
  • Edward S. Dowling, Esq., South Main Street, Naas. Merchant.
  • Edward Kennedy, Esq., Bishopscourt, Straffan. Landowner.
  • General the Rt. Hon Sir Bryan T. Mahon, P.C., Mullaboden, Ballymore-Eustace.
  • James Conway, Esq., Junior, Keridern, Naas. Landowner.
  • Michael Farrington, Esq., Oldtown Villa, Naas. Landowner.*

 

*Michael Farrington died on 6 August 1922 and was never formally registered as a director. Patrick Murphy (father of Redmond J. Murphy, a director of the course), Michael Fitzsimons, Bill and Joe Osborne are sometimes listed as founders. They were early shareholders, but they were not on the original board.

 

Thomas Whelan (1869-1931) – The First Chairman

 

Thomas Whelan.

Thomas Whelan, the co-founder and first chairman of the Naas Race Company, was born in 1869. He was a son of Thomas Whelan and his wife Rosanna, née Doyle, and grew up at Ballybrack, just north of Hacketstown, near the Carlow-Wicklow border. [27] He moved to Naas in his twenties and initially worked for the eminent merchant William Staples at the Commercial House on Main Street North. In 1902, Thomas took over the premises, which he developed into an extensive wine and grocery business over the next thirty years.

He took a keen interest in the social and sporting life of the county, becoming chairman of the Naas Race Company upon its inception, as well as the course manager ahead of the first meeting. [28] He was also chairman of the North Kildare County Club and a member of the County Kildare Golf Club and the Naas rugby, tennis and hockey clubs. The bachelor was associated with numerous movements that sought to improve the welfare of the community and served as chairman of the Naas Catholic Institute for 30 years. He was also a member of the County Kildare Joint Technical Committee.

With his keen business acumen and a reputation for integrity, Thomas Whelan was elected to the Naas Urban Council in 1928. High hopes for his political future were dashed by his unexpected death in 1931.[29] In his will, he requested that his loyal assistant Tommy Fletcher be given the first option to buy the Commercial House, along with its furniture, stock-in-trade and whiskey, for a fixed price of £2,000. The money was to go to his niece, Marie Whelan. Tommy duly bought the pub and changed the name to ‘Thomas Fletcher’ but his mentor’s initials ‘TW’ can still be seen on the wrought iron gate by the pub.

Thomas Whelan’s brother James ran the Royal Hotel (now The Gem) on Naas’s Poplar Square, having married Annie Doran, the daughter of its owner. [30]

 

Charlie Farrell (1866-1938) – Co-Founder and Second Chairman of the Naas Race Company

 

Charlie Farrell.

Born in 1866, Charlie Farrell was a son of Henry and Kate Farrell of Ballinagappa, Clane, County Kildare.[31] An enthusiast for sport in all spheres, Charlie was a life-long friend and sometime coach of Thomas Conneff, an international athletic sensation in the 1880s and 1890s who set and broke several world records. [32] (James Joyce immortalised Conneff in Ulysses.)

A founding director of the Naas Race Company, he was its chairman from 1931 until his death in 1938. He was also a steward from the inaugural meeting and reportedly held a substantial share in the business. He certainly took the keenest interest in the progress of the company and improving amenities on the course.

Charlie, who was closely connected with the racehorse industry in general across Ireland, also bred several well-known horses, such as the short-distance specialist, Tay End.

An expert shot, he represented Ireland in a shooting contest against Scotland at Gleneagles when he was over 70 years of age. He served as Vice-President of the Irish Clay Pigeon Shooting Association and President of the Maynooth Gun Club. Regarded as a ‘most unassuming’ man with ‘a truly great nature’, he adored roaming the moors and downs of Kildare and ‘abhorred ostentation and show’. [33]

In 1924, he was closely involved in the founding of Naas Athletic Club. Between 1926 and 1929, he presented the annual Ballinagappa Cup for the winner of a marathon that was initially run between Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin and Naas Town Hall.[34] By 1927, the finishing post was the football field at Naas Racecourse.

 

Edward Brophy (1885-1962) – Co-Founder and Third Chairman of the Naas Race Company

 

Edward Brophy, founding director and third chairman of the Naas Race Company, had horses in his blood. He was born in 1885 at Herbertstown House, near Two-Mile-House, on the Curragh. The house had belonged to his grandfather Paddy Keary (1802-1872), one of Ireland’s first bookmakers, who won the Irish Derby with Billy Pitt in 1870. Two years earlier, Paddy’s only child Kate married William Brophy, a successful coal merchant who had the contract to supply the army camp at the Curragh. [35] William and Kate were Edward’s parents.

William Brophy owned and bred many notable horses at Herbertstown. In 1880, he trumped his father-in-law with a unique double as owner, winning both the Irish Derby (King of the Bees) and the Irish Grand National (Controller). [36] He died in 1892, when Edward was just seven years old. The Herbertstown stud was then sold by Goffs in what one contemporary regarded as ‘perhaps the most extraordinary [sale] that ever took place in Ireland’. [37]

Kate Brophy was held in high regard by the establishment. When she died in 1923, the mourners at her funeral included President Cosgrave, Major-General Peadar McMahon, Senator Cummins and her son-in-law, Senator J. J. Parkinson. [38]

William and Kate Brophy had eleven children, namely Patrick J (d. 1940s), Margaret (Parkinson), Mary (Ellison), Helen (1871-1891), Katie (1872-1876), William (d. 1951), Teresa / Tess (1874-1951), Catherine (d. 1946), Annie (1880-1889), Edward (1885-1962) and Thomas / Tom (d. 1953).

In 1895, Edward’s older sister, Margaret Brophy married a young veterinary surgeon by the name of James Joseph Parkinson (1769–1948), better known as Jem or J.J.[39] He briefly trained horses for the notorious Boss Croker (1905-1906), including the Derby-winning Orby, before going out on his own. Based at Maddenstown on the Curragh, J.J. Parkinson became one of Ireland’s most successful trainers, clocking up 2,577 wins – unbeaten until Dermot Weld surpassed him in 2000 – including six Irish classics.[40] He was also the country’s foremost breeder and exporter of horses. In business, he ran the Wolfhill Collieries near Athy (which went into receivership in 1925) and a timber processing firm in Monasterevin. Nominated to the first Seanad by W.T. Cosgrave in 1922, he retained his seat until ill-health forced his retirement shortly before his death in 1948. [41]

Edward’s oldest brother Patrick J. Brophy was a prominent racehorse owner who ran Robert J Goff & Co. Ltd., the bloodstock auctioneers, for many years before becoming director of his own company in 1922.[42] Patrick was temporary chairman of the Naas Race Company for a brief period after Thomas Whelan’s death in 1931 although the position was soon formally filled by Charlie Farrell.[43] By his first wife, Miss Donohoe, Patrick had two sons Con and Dick. Patrick’s second wife Mary, whom he married in Dublin in 1907, see here, was the eldest daughter of Senator Joseph O’Connor of Mylerstown House, Harristown, and a sister of Margaret Osborne of Tipper.

Richard Brophy, the auctioneer,  is a grandson of the aforementioned Dick. He has been a director of the Naas Race Company since 2006, making him the second longest serving  member behind Dermot Cantillon. In 2012, he formed Goffs Property, a subsidiary of Goffs Bloodstock, with Andrew Nolan and Goffs.

Tom Brophy, Edward’s younger brother, served as chairman of the Kildare County GAA Board from 1920 until 1922 when he moved to New York. In the US, he worked his way up to become an executive of the Totalisator, aka the Tote. He wrote ‘widely’ on racing in American papers as well as the weekly ‘American Column’ for the Irish Field, signing himself ‘T.P.B.’ The Leinster Leader observed that ‘long before it became “fashionable” to laud Irish produce and blood-lines in American racing, [Tom] was a persistent and enthusiastic advocate of the Irish horse in America.’ He died in 1953. [44]

Edward’s sisters included the kindly and capable Mary, who married Charlie Ellison, the Melitta Lodge trainer.[45]

In April 1924, just as the first races at Naas were about to commence, Edward’s first cousin Anne Parkinson married Monaghan-born Peadar MacMahon, a boxing enthusiast and seasoned veteran of the Irish Revolution. Six months later, Lieutenant General MacMahon became the first chief of staff of the Defence Forces.[46]

In 1920, Edward married Margaret ‘Daisy’ Gannon (1900-1972) of Main Street, Newbridge, a quiet, dignified lady who did not entirely share her husband’s obsession with bloodstock and racing. They were initially at Herbertstown for the birth of their first son, another Dick Brophy, in 1923. They then moved to Newlands House, Naas, where they had two more sons, Billy (b. 1924) and Teddy (b. 1925). As well as running the farm at Newlands, Edward owned a number of valuable horses.

Edward became chairman of the Naas Racecourse Company on the death of Charlie Farrell in 1938. He retained the office until his death in 1962, when he was succeeded by Paddy Cox. Following his death, the Leinster Times hailed him as ‘a very popular, genial and generous man’. [47] He was survived by his widow and their three sons. [48] All three sons played rugby for Naas in the 1940s and became farmers, alternating between livestock and grain. [49]

Billy became a director of Naas Race Company in 1962 and was elected chairman in 1986. (See 1980s chapter).

 

Patrick Berney (1875-1962) – Co-Founder

 

Patrick Berney had hunters for sale and hire. With thanks to Jamie Berney.

Patrick Berney, one of the co-founders and first directors of the Naas Race Company, was born in Kilcullen in 1875. [50] When he was five years old, his father, Peter Berney, founded a small saddlery workshop in the town. Over 140 years later, Berney Brothers Ltd. remains one of the world’s most respected producers of quality tack, run by the descendants of Patrick’s brother Thomas, with the Aga Khan amongst their customers.

In 1896, Patrick married Josephine ‘Bride’ Walsh, with whom he had six children. Only three of these were still alive by 1911, by which time Patrick and his family were residing in Naas town where he ran his saddlery and harness-making business. Bride died ‘after a tedious illness’ just before Christmas 1911, and Patrick was married secondly in 1913 to Catherine (sometimes Kathleen) Dwyer, with whom he had three more children. [51] Their eldest daughter Kitty was to become a first-class show rider, point-to-point racer and hunter.

Patrick was a man who enjoyed speed. In 1914, he was clocked as the owner of a motorbike.[52] He was also the prime mover behind the Naas Harriers Point-to-Point, founded in 1918, and first Master of the Hunt in 1920. He brought the hounds up from Kerry, reportedly the only place in Ireland where good harriers were to be found, and kept them on his farm at Silliot Hill, Kilcullen. [53]

In 1926, Patrick applied for a bookmaker’s licence for his premises at 25 North Main St., Naas where, by 1931, he also had a victualler business. He died at Silliot Hill in 1962.

 

Edward Staples Dowling (1875-1956) – Co-Founder

 

Edward Staples Dowling, director of the Naas Race Company and a steward at the inaugural meeting at Naas Racecourse, was born in Dunlavin, County Wicklow, in 1875. [54] He went to Naas to work alongside his cousin Thomas Whelan at William Staples’ ‘Celebrated Tea House’, established in 1869. A towering figure in Naas before the First World War, William Staples was a lifelong Nationalist who served as the first chairman of Naas Urban Council. On 26 April 1904, he was all set to present an address to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra who were due to visit Naas. The town was bedecked in bunting, flags and flowers for the occasion, and a band played too. Alas, the royals did not stop but continued on to the Punchestown races instead. Such a snub cannot have made Councillor Staples any less of a nationalist.

In 1912, Edward married William Staples’s niece Catherine. When William died two years later, Edward took over his Tea House, now known as ‘Staples’, which he held until 1949 when he sold it to Galway man and returned emigrant, Patrick Quigley.

A popular figure on the racing track, Edward owned and bred a number of valuable racehorses, both in Ireland and England. His knowledge of racing contributed significantly to the success of the Naas races. He was also hon. treasurer and trustee of many local charitable organisations, taking a keen interest in urban affairs as a member of the Naas Urban Council. He died, without issue, on 2 June 1956.

 

Edward Kennedy (1860-1925) – – Co-Founder and King of the Doubles

 

Edward Kennedy presenting Johnny Dines, who rode two winners for him, with two whips. The winners were the outsiders, Wardley Dell and Seize. (Photo, Cashman).’ Sport, 21 June 1924. This was at the very first Naas races.

The first champion of the Naas Races was arguably Edward ‘Cub’ Kennedy, who won back-to-back doubles at the first and second meetings. It was serendipitous that he should have such success in that opening year because he would also be the first co-founder to pass on.

The Kennedys were well-known huntsmen in County Kildare, having kept a pack of hounds at their seat in Johnstown since the 18th century. Sir John Kennedy, Edward’s grandfather, was hailed as the father of the Kildare Hunt and regarded as one of the finest horsemen of his generation.

In 1900, Cub’s father Robert caused considerable controversy by refusing to present an address to Queen Victoria during her visit to Ireland. Cub’s brother Frank, an admiral in the Royal Navy, commanded HMS Indomitable during the bombardment of the Dardanelles forts in 1914, as well as at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. [55]

Cub Kennedy was well-known across Britain and Ireland as the breeder of The Tetrarch, an undefeated thoroughbred, who is still considered one of the greatest two-year-olds of all time. Kennedy’s stud operations were at the Straffan Station in Baronrath, 12km north of Naas Racecourse, while he lived at Bishopscourt, near Kill. He was chair of Goffs from 1922 until his death in 1925. [56]

His Australian wife Dorie was a niece of Andrew ‘Banjo’ Paterson, the bush poet who wrote The Man from Snowy River (1890) and Waltzing Matilda (1895). Paterson adopted his pseudonym, ‘The Banjo’, after his favourite horse. [57] Cub and Dorie had four sons and five daughters, each of them a colourful individual. The jockey Willie Robinson, one of their grandsons, rode Mill House to win the 1963 Cheltenham Gold Cup and was the only jockey to have won the Hennessy Gold Cup three times until Tom Scudamore equalled his record in 2020. [58]

 

General Sir Bryan Mahon (1862-1930) – Co-Founder

 

General Sir Bryan and Lady Mahon.

Aside from Cub Kennedy, the best-known member of Naas’s original board of directors was also its oldest, General Sir Bryan Mahon. Famed as the ‘Reliever of Mafeking’, the general had a chest full of military decorations spanning almost four decades of military service. Born at Belleville, County Galway in 1862, he joined the army as a lieutenant in the 8th (King’s Royal Irish) Hussars in 1883. As a young man, he served in India and Sudan, during which time he was appointed staff officer to Sir Herbert Kitchener. He earned particular distinction for his courage during the final defeat of the Mahdist Khalifa in Sudan in 1899, for which his commanding officer deemed him to be ‘possessed of exceptional qualities as a commander’. [59]

During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902, Colonel Mahon – as he was now ranked –led a 2,000-strong flying column of Imperial Light Horse, consisting mainly of South African volunteers from Kimberley, which came to the Relief of Mafeking. The town had been under siege by Boer forces for seven months and was facing starvation. Mahon was further decorated for his services.[60] He was also appointed a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in May 1902, and briefly served as Governor of Khartoum in 1903.

He went on to command the 10th (Irish) Division during the disastrous Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. [61] His friend Sir John Milbanke, V.C., was among over 110,000 soldiers killed in that war zone. Mahon later married Sir John’s widow, Amelia, known as Lelia, a niece of the Earl of Erne, with whom he settled at Mullaboden, the Milbanke’s house near Ballymore-Eustace, County Kildare. [62]

Between November 1916 and May 1918, General Mahon was commander-in-chief of the British forces in Ireland.[63] During this time, he was ordered to prevent a public procession scheduled to mark the funeral of Thomas Ashe, a Republican icon, who died on hunger strike after his captors endeavoured to force-feed him. The general understood the mood of the Irish people better than many of his fellow officers and, after consulting W. T. Cosgrave, the chairman of Dublin Corporation’s Finance Committee, he opted to ignore his orders and let the funeral progress.

When Cosgrave became President of the Executive Council in 1922, he appointed Sir Bryan to Seanad Éireann, a seat the general held until his death eight years later. [64] As a senator, he was considered fair game for the anti-Treatyists. Mullaboden was burned down in 1923; the Mahons were not home at the time. [See above]. Having filed for over £60,000 in ‘malicious injury claims’ from Kildare County Council, they were awarded £21,341.

Nonetheless, the general decided to invest his time and money in the Naas Race Company. As Irish Society magazine observed, such a venture was ‘a definite proof that he has not lost faith in his countrymen with the burning of his home’. [65] Following Cub Kennedy’s death in 1925, Sir Bryan succeeded as manager of Punchestown, bringing ‘a renewed lease of prosperity to this world-famed meeting’. Evidently, neither he nor Cub Kennedy considered Punchestown a threat to their Naas interests. [66]

The general was received into the Roman Catholic church in November 1927. [67]  Lady Mahon died the following month. He was on the cusp of becoming Senior Steward of the Turf Club when he resigned in 1928, a move that caused ‘much surprise’ in Ireland. He remained the Senior Steward of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. A dedicated chain-smoker, the 68-year-old war hero succumbed to pneumonia in 1930.[68] W. T. Cosgrave attended his burial at Mullaboden. As his obituary in The Tatler concluded: ‘Incapable of either a mean act or an unworthy thought … He lived as he rode, straight as a gun-barrel.’ [69]

As regards Mullaboden, I thank Bill Webster for this additional note: On 7 September 1872, the estate of “Mullaghboden” belonging to Mr C. P. Hoffman was reported in the Leinster Express as having been put up for auction.  It did not reach a reserve price of over £20,000, but amongst those reported as present were Rev H Johnston [Henniker Johnston] and Captain Johnston, JP and a Mr Hone.  Mr Hone bid a few times but never near the final bid prices.  On 15 November 1873, it was reported that the estate had been purchased by Hon Charles Creighton, second son of the Earl of Erne. In 1877 it was reported that Mullaghboden had been taken (leased?) by Mr More O’Ferrall. (See More O’Ferrall family). Hone and Falkiner were long-time solicitors for the Halpin family.

It seems that Mullaboden passed to Lady Mahon’s only son, Sir John Charles Peniston Milbanke, 11th Bart. (1902–1947). In 1928, he married Australian divorces Sheila Chisholm, former wife of Lord Loughborough, whose affair with young Bertie, the future George VI, caused severe palpitations at Buckingham Palace. As Lady Milbanke, she was ‘one of London’s most admired fashion icons and society fundraisers and ended her days.’ She inspired British author Evelyn Waugh to write his celebrated 1948 novel The Loved One. After Sir John’s death, she married Princess Dimitri of Russia, an exile, and became a travel agent. Her fans included Rudolph Valentino, Vincent Astor, Prince Obolensky, and her friends were Evelyn Waugh, Noel Coward, Idina Sackville and Nancy Mitford. See “Sheila”, by Robert Wainwright.

 

James Conway (1881-1962) – The First Secretary

 

At the inaugural meeting of the Naas Race Company, James Conway, junior, was appointed as both its secretary of as manager of the racecourse. Born in Naas in 1881, he was an older brother of Michael N. Conway, the future manager of the racecourse. (See below) An extensive landowner and well-known horse breeder, James died unmarried in 1962.[70]

 

*****

 

Preparing the Course

 

The directors had pitched to host 12 days’ racing in 1924, but when the authorities made their decision, the Kildare Observer felt they had been ‘particularly indulgent’ in allotting them seven. [71] The directors were quickly on the case to get the racecourse ready, with Thomas Whelan personally supervising the works. The initial contractor was Richard A. Gleeson, a future superintendent of Baldoyle racecourse, who claimed to have visited the course 150 times over the course of its construction. [72] The company also employed Peter Whelan as its principal foreman.

When the Dublin correspondent for Sport magazine visited in the last week of 1923, he described a state of ‘great progress’:

‘The different courses are complete with the exception of the fences of the Steeple-chase Track. The circuit will measure just one mile and a half, with easy turns and persistently level going, except a slight rise to the winning post, which has been minimised by judicious cutting away and levelling’. [73]

Fortunately, they did not take away too much of that ‘slight rise’ as the uphill finish with a long run-in would give Naas arguably its best-known feature to this day.

Sport continued:

‘The straight six furlongs is a very fine track, and it is safe to say there will be no superior in Ireland. The view is excellent. Many fine loose boxes of the most substantial kind have been erected, and the contractor is now busy with other equine shelters. The contractors for the Stands and Enclosures are pushing along their parts in the most commendable manner.’ [74]

The stand itself was the work of Smith and Pearson’s Steel Structural Work from the Newcomen Iron Works in inner city Dublin. The same company supplied grandstands for Croke Park, the Shelbourne Sports Company and the racecourses at Mallow and Limerick Junction. [75] The first three steps of the stand were concrete and the rest, creosote wood. It was completely covered so that those on the lower steps were as protected from the elements as those above. The Irish Independent correspondent declared it ‘the best constructed that I have seen’. [76]

As well as basic stables and a weigh-room, there were also five starting gates, from a patent design by Major Kenny, with whom Richard Gleeson worked closely.

There was some added publicity for the course on 30 January 1924 when it hosted the Cross-Country Championship of the 33rd Infantry Battalion. The Machine Gun Company reigned supreme on the day. [77]

 

Inching Closer

 

The first meeting was scheduled for March 1924, but an appalling winter meant that the course was simply not going to be ready on time. Both the March and April meetings were postponed. [78] Workmen were still laying a sewage drain across the course in May. To their shock, they came upon a skeleton lying face down in the ground; the remains were reinterred in the Union Burial Ground. [79]

All eyes were now on the inaugural meeting in June, in advance of which the press carried full details. The races would be held in line with the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase (INHS) Rules. There were to be six races for the opening day, with a maximum of 20 horses per race. Free stabling and forage were available to anyone who applied to Secretary Conway prior to 16 June. Horses would also be carried free if they were within 20 miles of the course, otherwise there would be ‘two allowed’. Anyone seeking to enter needed to apply by 21 May in writing to F. Harold Clarke of 9 Hume Street, Dublin, or send him a telegram via ‘Turfclub, Dublin.’

The excitement continued to build as the race day approached. For the fashion-conscious, A.M. O’Farrell & Sons, outfitters, of South Main Street, Naas, ordered a new stock specifically for the event, including coat frocks, dress frocks, wrap coats and ‘the latest in millinery’ [i.e. hats]. [80]

A week before the event, the Irish Independent dispatched a journalist named ‘Padraig’ to view the set-up. Having observed that the Racecourse Committee had spent £6,000 buying the land and £10,000 on fitting up the buildings and course, Padraig declared:

‘It will not be the fault of the executive if it does not prove one of the most successful racing ventures promoted in recent years. The course is an excellent one, providing a galloping sweep, over a mile and a half in the round for the flat-race track, and slightly further for the chasing course … The subsoil of the course is sand, so that except in very heavy weather the running track will provide the best of going, and even with abnormal rain it will never become what can be called “heavy”. No better racing track is to be found in the country.’ [81]

Admission to the course was a shilling, while the entrance fee to the three stands was discounted for the opening day – 12 shillings for the Grand Stand (capable of holding 2,500 people), 17 shillings and sixpence for the Reserved Stand (circa 1,200 people) and 4 shillings for the People’s Park, as the public stand was known. The price for ladies was 7 shillings and sixpence.

 

The Iron Horse

 

The Great Southern and Western Railway laid on three special trains between Kingsbridge (now Heuston), Dublin and Naas for the occasion, with first- and third-class carriages on each. [82] The racecourse was only a five-minute walk from Naas railway station. For many, the railway was the only means of long-distance transport at this time. Few people had a car and trains were well suited for anyone who could not, or did not wish to, come by bicycle.

Many of the competing horses would also come by rail and there was likely a railway siding connecting the railway track directly to the racecourse, as at the Curragh. That said, while some horses may also have arrived in horse-drawn wagons, most would have been ridden or led.

In terms of spectators, the railway was absolutely key to the course’s success during its first quarter of a century, bringing hundreds of punters south from Sallins junction or north from the six stops along the Tullow line – Harristown, Dunlavin, Colbinstown, Grangecon, Baltinglass and Rathvilly. That said, by 1928, more and more Dubliners were arriving by bus and at least one correspondent observed that where the crowds had once thronged the railway station, they now tended to gather by Naas Town Hall from where the buses came and went.[83] The railway began to wind down in 1947 and closed in 1959. The station was demolished in the 1970s and all that remains today are the goods shed and the stationmaster’s house. The rest of the site is now occupied by Tesco.

 

Of Cars and Charabanc

 

As well as being close to the railway station, Naas Racecourse was ‘within easy motoring distance of the metropolis of Dublin’, although few people had motor cars and even fewer had motor horse boxes. Motorists arriving from Dublin were to stop at the gate, after which their cars would be parked for them in the motor enclosure at a cost of 10 shillings a car. Horse-drawn vehicles were two shillings and sixpence. A ‘private avenue’ was opened from the public road to the back of the stands, accessible only by pedestrians, private traps and motors. A one-way traffic system would be in place for the day while, in advance of the meeting, the county surveyor had ensured the bridge on the Johnstown Road was ‘safe for motor traffic’. [84]

An alternative way to get there was by charabanc, an open-top motor coach, and, for four shillings, Dubliners were invited to board one of the ‘Defiance’ cars at O’Connell Bridge at one o’clock. The car would drop them ‘right on the course’ at Naas. That said, the Civic Guard would soon be preventing such charabancs from getting quite so close to the course. [85]

 

A silver trophy, valued at 25 sovereigns, was presented to the winning trainer, the Hon. Herbrand ‘Firebrand’ Alexander, second son of the Earl of Caledon, after his charge Fleet Prince won the Naas Plate by 10 lengths at 6/1. The horse was owned by G. R. Whitmore and ridden by John Mullen.

And They’re Off

 

Johnny Dines, 1924.

So it was that on Thursday 19 June 1924, 74 horses assembled as Naas Racecourse for the first official race meeting. The six races were the Director’s Plate (150 sovereigns), the Kingsfurze Plate (100 sov), the Naas Plate (250 sov), the Fishery Plate (100 sov), the Tipper Plate (100 sov) and the Steward’s Plate (55 sov). A silver cup was to be presented to the winning trainers of the first hurdle race (Director’s), the first steeplechase (Naas) and the first flat race (Fishery), as well as a silver-mounted whip for the winning jockey in each of those three races. [86] The total stake-money for the inaugural fixture was £755.

The Naas Plate, also known as the Naas Steeplechase, was the highlight of the afternoon, its prestige raised by the fact that Cheltenham had held its first-ever running of the famous Gold Cup as a steeplechase just three months earlier. [87] The plate was won by Heber ‘Firebrand’ Alexander’s Fleet Prince, while Cub Kennedy scored a double with the outsiders Wardley Dell and Seize, both ridden by Joe Dines (1891-1968). As one spectator put it: ‘The racing was excellent. Fields were big, and there were two exciting finishes. Backers had a bad day.’ [88]

The stewards on that opening day included Baron de Robeck, Colonel Blacker and General Sir Bryan Mahon. Catering was provided by Mrs Lawlor of Nás na Ríogh Hotel, who had opened her catering line just two years earlier.

The founding fathers tip their bowlers and trilbies during the presentation of prizes for the Trainers Cup [not the Traders Cup as stated] at the first meeting at Naas Racecourse on 19 June 1924. General Waldron (the handicapper) and Thomas Whelan are on the left, with Edward ‘Cub’ Kennedy, raising his hat high on the right. Ned Gaul is centre background, with hat and tie. Charlie Farrell is also said to be in the photo. There may also be a Dowse from outside Naas. Edward Brophy is not in the picture.

 

Joseph Cashman – The Photographer

 

The photo of the first Naas meeting was taken by Joseph Cashman (1885-1969) of 21 Capel Street, Dublin. An early follower of James Larkin, the socialist and trade union leader, it was Cashman who took the iconic photograph of Larkin addressing the crowd from an O’Connell Street balcony in 1923. By 1924, his studio was a thriving business, specialising in bloodstock photography. [89] He later set up the art and photographic department for the Evening Press, while remaining a freelance photographer. Horses and jockeys remained one of his favourite subjects. His son Griff, who accompanied him, was instructed to bang a metal bucket to ensure the horse’s ears stood to attention for each photograph. [90]

 

The First WinnersNaas Races – Thursday 19 June 1924


Directors’ Plate Hurdle (150 sovereigns) over 1½ miles
1. Borora (100/8) owned by Mr .A McCann, trained by Matt Dawson and ridden by J. Moloney
2. Major Ray (2/1 fav) owned by Mr P. Monahan and ridden by Joe Doyle
3. Louvoisina (100/8) owned by Mr D. J. Cogan and ridden by T. Kelly junior
Fishery Plate (100 sovereigns) over 6 furlongs
1. Wardley Dell (10/1) owned by Mr Edward Kennedy, trained by P. Devoy and ridden by Johnny Dines
2. Georgina (5/1) owned by Mr J. T. Rogers and ridden by R. Cullen
3. Irish Ire (20/1) owned by Mr R. C. Ross and ridden by Jack Moylan
Naas Steeplechase (250 sovereigns) over 3 miles 100 yards
1. Fleet Prince (6/1) owned by Mr G. Whitmore, trained by the Hon. Herbrand Alexander and ridden by John Mullen
2. Revelation (6/4 fav) owned by Major V. Parr and ridden by T. Kelly junior
3. How Nice (100/8) owned by Mr D. G. Cleary and ridden by J. McCarthy
Kingsfurze Plate (100 sovereigns) over 5 furlongs
1. Four Square (10/1) owned by Mr Fred Myerscough, trained by Fordred and ridden by Morny Wing
2. The Sliding Stone (8/1) owned by Mr Matt Dawson and ridden by E. Martin Quirke
3. Louvarissa (2/1 jt fav) owned by Mr Edward Staples Dowling and ridden by Joe Canty
Tipper Plate (100 sovereigns) over 1½ miles
1. Seize (10/1) owned by Mr Edward Kennedy, trained by P. Devoy and ridden by Johnny Dines
2. Buacaill (6/1) owned by Mr M. Hayes and ridden by Morny Wing
3. Erin’s Falloch (2/1 fav) owned by Colonel Honner and ridden by Joe Canty
Stewards Steeplechase Plate (55 sovereigns) over 2 miles
1. Bolshevist (evens fav) owned by Mrs Croft, trained by H. Ussher and ridden by Hogan junior
2. Scotch Ben (3/1) owned by Mr H. N. Magill and ridden by Mr J. V. Widger
3. Chatillon (8/1) owned by Mr E. Kennedy and ridden by John Mullen

 

Jack Moloney (1898-1969) – The First Winning Jockey

 

The first jockey to win a race at Naas was Limerick-born Jack Moloney riding Mr. McCann’s Borora. It was a popular win as Jack had fractured his skull in a bad fall at Uttoxeter three months earlier. Jack won back-to-back Irish Grand Nationals in 1922 and 1923 but also achieved a frustrating hat trick when he came second in the Aintree Grand National three times. [92]

 

The First Stewards and Officials – Naas Races, 19 June 1924

 

Stewards

General the Right Hon. Sir Bryan Mahon; Thomas Whelan, Esq.; Edward S. Dowling, Esq.; Patrick Berney, Esq.; Col. F. Blacker, D.S.O.; J. J. Maher, Esq.; Edward Kennedy, Esq.; Charles Farrell, Esq.; Edward Brophy, Esq.; Colonel Honner, The Baron de Robeck. [91]

 

Officials

Stakeholder and Receiver of Entries – Mr. F. Harold Clarke, 9 Hume Street, Dublin; Telegraphic Address: ‘Turfclub, Dublin.’

Clerk of the Course – Mr T. J. Fleming, 7 Anglesea Street, Dublin.

Secretary and Manager – Mr. James Conway (jun.), Kingsfurze, Tipper, Naas.

Judge – Capt. J. F. Tuthill.

Starter – Major Blennerhassett.

Handicapper – Mr H.V. Linehan (later General Waldron).

Clerk of the Scales  – Mr. J. P. Hartigan.

Hon. Surgeon – W. P. Murphy, Esq., M. D.

Hon. Veterinary Surgeons – W. T. M. Browne, Esq. M.R.C.V.S.; M. N. Conway, Esq., M.R.C.V.S.

Auctioneer  –  Mr. Michael Fitzsimons, M.I.A.A.

 

Major Blennerhassett, M.B.E. (1856-1939) – The First Starter

 

Arthur Blennerhassett was the Official Starter and Inspector of Courses for the Irish Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. In that capacity, he served as starter at the inaugural meeting at Naas Racecourse.

Born in Ballyseedy Castle, County Kerry, in 1856, he married Lady Nesta FitzGerald, a daughter of the Knight of Glin, with whom he had three daughters. [93] In the early 1900s, he sold the Ballyseedy estate to his tenants under the Land Purchase Act, but continued to live at the castle. A keen judge of horseflesh, he was commissioned by the British Government to buy a large number of war horses during the First World War. His wife and two younger daughters served as nurses on the Western Front during the same conflict.

 

Dr W. P. Murphy (1872-1928) – The First Hon. Surgeon

 

William Patrick Joseph Murphy, M.D. was the surgeon for the inaugural meeting at Naas Racecourse. [94] Born in Tullow, County Carlow, on St Patrick’s Day, 1872, he was a brother-in-law of William Browne, the veterinary surgeon at Naas racecourse, and an uncle of Captain Bill Murphy, who died at the Somme alongside the nationalist poet Tom Kettle. See Murphy of Kill.

Regarded as the ‘people’s doctor … ever ready to assist in any emergency, he seldom, if ever, appeared in the public eye, except to press forward some local reform or sanitary measure in the interest of the town of Naas.’

He died at his home on Poplar Square, Naas, on 18 June 1928.

 

William Browne, Esq. (1873-1942), M.R.C.V.S. – The Vet

 

William Browne, who served alongside Michael Conway as one of the two official veterinary surgeons for that inaugural meeting, was born in Limerick City in 1873. [95] In 1908, he married Kathleen Mary Menton, née Houlihan, a widow, with whom he lived at Abbeyfield, near Naas. He narrowly avoided death from what sounds like the Spanish Flu in 1918. He attributed his salvation to the Blessed John Sullivan, a Jesuit priest at Clongowes Wood, who apparently walked to Abbeyfield, slipped into William’s room, prayed over his unconscious body and walked home again afterwards, an eight-mile trek through the rain, without anyone noticing. [96] William died in 1942. [97]

 

Harry Linehan (1878-1943) – The First Handicapper

 

The handicapper at the inaugural meeting at Naas in 1924 was Harry Linehan, a well-known figure in sports journalism. The son of a Cork auctioneer, Harry served as racing correspondent for the Irish Times for many years. His knowledge of the sport impressed the stewards of the Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, who appointed him assistant handicapper in 1922. [98]

 

T. J. Fleming (1875-1935), The Baron – Clerk of the Course

 

T. J. Fleming, known as ‘The Baron.’

Frederick Harold Clarke, Receiver of Entries.

Nicknamed ‘The Baron’, Thomas Joseph Fleming was clerk of the course at the inaugural meeting. Born in New Ross, County Wexford, he served his apprenticeship in the glove department of a Waterford drapery before switching tack and opening a turf agency in the same city.

With a marvellous understanding of the value of bloodstock, he enjoyed much success as an owner and trainer, becoming a well-known figure at both Irish and English meetings. His close friends included Boss Croker, the notorious Irish-American boss of Tammany Hall, New York, whose horse Orby won the Derby in 1907. [99]

In 1903, he married Mary Margaret Harty, a member of the horse-racing Harty dynasty, with whom he had 16 children. [100] In 1920, he and Senator J.J. Parkinson jointly took over the administration of Tramore Racecourse following the death of its previous lessee, Martin J. Murphy, an Irish Parliamentary Party MP. ‘The Baron’ Fleming died in 1935. [101]

 

Fred Clarke (1873-1947) – Receiver of Entries

 

Frederick Harold Clarke, a stakeholder and receiver of entries at the inaugural meeting of the Naas Races, was a familiar face at Naas through until shortly before his death in 1947. An Englishman from the fens of Cambridgeshire, he was born in 1873. He started his career at the now defunct Alexandra Park Racecourse, aka Ally Pally, in London, and also served as assistant clerk of Sandown Park.

In 1903, he moved to Ireland with his young wife Harriet Ellen (née Pigott) and their baby son, also Fred. The following year, Fred senior was licensed by the stewards of the Irish Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Committee to act as Clerk of the Course and Receiver of Entries for Leopardstown where, following the close of his first season, he reportedly gave ‘the greatest possible satisfaction’. He retained the position for many years, during which time he became a close friend of Bill Beckett, a quantity surveyor, who often visited Fred with his son Samuel, who went on to become the celebrated Nobel Prize-winning author. [102]

Fred Clarke, who lived at Leopardstown House, Foxrock, County Dublin, was also an auctioneer and sometime secretary of the Turf Club. He had a special interest in trotting horses. He was survived by his son, Frederick Clarke, a well-known veterinary surgeon and racing official. [103]

 

Jack Hartigan (1875-1939) – Clerk of the Scales

 

Captain Johnnie Fitzgerald Tuthill.

Jack Hartigan, clerk of the scales at the inaugural meeting at Naas, was born in 1875 and raised at Boher House, Bruff, County Limerick. Long identified with racing and hunting, his Hartigans were one of the oldest known families in that county. Jack’s kinsmen included the trainer Martin Hartigan (1889-1942), for whom Gordon Richards was, briefly, apprentice jockey, and Sir James Hartigan, director-general of the Army Medical Services. [104]

Appointed an official of the Irish Turf Club in circa 1909, Jack would make his mark by reviving the race meetings at Tipperary, by Limerick Junction. A conscientious and capable official, he was also a successful auctioneer, building up an extensive business in the sale of horses and cattle.

 

Captain Tuthill (1856-1932) – The First Judge

 

John Fitzgerald Tuthill, known as Johnnie, served as judge at the inaugural meeting at Naas Racecourse. Born at Newabbey, near Kilcullen, in 1856, he later settled at Moyglare House, near Maynooth. [105] As a young man, he abandoned a military career to pursue his racing interests. As one commentator put it:

‘For a quarter of a century, he acted as racing judge at the Irish meetings and few such judges in either Ireland or England at the time of his tenure commanded so implicit a confidence. He was painstaking to an untiring degree, meticulous in a study of his card and colours – for he disregarded numbers altogether – and never departed from a routine in the fulfilment of his duties, which ensured an unfailing accuracy. Gifted with an eagle eye for the smallest contributory detail, the issue became at once clear cut and devoid of any confusing haphazard after thoughts.’[106]

His son Frank Fitzgerald Tuthill was also an efficient judge and would play an important role in Naas in the decades to come.

 

Colonel W. J. Honner (1858-1947) ­– Steward

 

Lt William James Honner

J. J. Maher

The oldest steward at the inaugural meeting of Naas Racecourse was Tipperary-born Colonel William Honner. [107] The son of a solicitor, he had a distinguished military career that saw him serve in landscapes today known as India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan. Upon the outbreak of the First World War, he was appointed second-in-command of remounts at the Curragh, where there was a huge demand for horses. [108]

His horse Erin’s Falloch, who came third in the first running of the Tipper Plate at Naas, won the Corinthian Plate at Naas in September 1924.

A member of the Irish Turf Club, Colonel Honner trained horses for both the flat and National Hunt from his base at Ardenode, County Kildare, where he lived up until 1927. [109] At Ardenode, he constructed a much-admired bank steeplechase course, which all other owners and trainers were invited to use free-of-charge. Over the course of half a century, many a chaser had its initial training at Ardenode.

 

J. J. Maher (1862-1935) – Steward

 

Among the other stewards at the inaugural meeting was J. J. Maher, one of the best known breeders in Ireland at the time. Born in County Meath, James Joseph Maher won numerous hunt cups as a horseman with the Ward Union hounds. Following the death of his brother-in-law Leonard Sheil, a renowned trainer, in 1889, he took over the Greenmount stables at Clonsilla, training steeplechasers for owners such as Lord Cadogan, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1895-1902). [110]

He went on to breed many successful horses at Confey Stud, near Leixlip, including Ballymacad, winner of the 1917 ‘War National’. [111] He was Senior Steward of the I.N.H.S.C, Chairman of the Conyngham Club (the Tattersalls of Ireland), a member of the Rules Committee and a trustee of the Turf Club.

 

Colonel Frederick Blacker (1881-1942) – Steward

 

Col Frederick St. John Blacker, The Tatler, 1936.

Frederick St. John Blacker was born and raised on the Castlemartin estate outside Kilcullen, a son to Major William Blacker and his wife Mary, née Lawless. He enjoyed a distinguished career in the British Army, serving principally with the Rifle Brigade. A notable sportsman, he was a leading figure with the Kildare Hunt, a first-class polo player and a ‘most capable’ amateur rider. [112]

In 1910, he married Sheela Pollok, a granddaughter of Baron Clanmorris, with whom he owned and bred many high-class racehorses at Castlemartin. Among these was Music Hall, bred by Sheela, which won the 1922 Aintree Grand National. [113] Sheela’s sister Zara married Alexander Hore-Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie, who served as governor-general of Australia from 1936 to 1945.

Colonel Blacker was a steward at the inaugural meeting at Naas Racecourse. He died at Castlemartin in 1942 and was survived by his two sons, Percy and Ian. [114] Ian Blacker enjoyed ‘a very happy relationship’ with Dame Joan Hammond, the Australian soprano, but was killed in Italy in 1944. [115]

 

5th Baron de Robeck (1859-1929) ­– Steward

 

5th Baron de Robeck, 1928

Arguably the most well-to-do steward at the inaugural meeting at Naas was Henry Edward William Fock, 5th Baron de Robeck. This colourful dynasty traces its origins to a family who became all powerful in Estonia during the 18th century before settling in Ireland. (See de Robeck of Gowran Grange).  The 2nd Baron was a cavalry officer who served against the British redcoats in the American War of Independence. The 4th Baron, father of the 5th , built the family home at Gowran Grange, beside Punchestown, and served as ranger for the Curragh in the reign of Queen Victoria.

The 5th Baron was born at Gowran Grange in 1859 and served as an artillery man in the army right through to the First World War. His younger brother Jack, an admiral in the Royal Navy, reluctantly led the disastrous attempt to capture the Dardanelles Straits in 1915.

Renowned for his charity to the poor, the 5th  Baron’s popularity was such that he topped the polls for his area at the last local government elections held before his demise in 1929. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Brigadier John Henry Edward Fock, a man who would be instrumental in helping General ‘Punch’ Cowan defeat the Japanese in Burma (now Myanmar) during the Second World War.

 

Ned Gaul

 

Ned Gaul

Among those photographed at the presentation of prizes for the Traders Cup at the first official race meeting at Naas Racecourse was Ned Gaul.

A hard-drinking cabdriver, Ned was very well known among the racing fraternity. His wife died two days after giving birth to her daughter Kathleen at Christmas 1940.

After Ned died of throat cancer in 1951, the Leinster Leader hailed him as ‘a very well-known and popular personality who had been associated with the social and sporting life of the town for many years… He was very popular with everyone and his demise at a comparatively early age is sincerely regretted.’ [116]

 

 

Michael Conway (1896-1958) – The Second Manager

 

Michael Conway, M.R.C.V.S., of Lannreagh, Naas, at the Naas Races with Bill and Pamela Rathdonnell, The Tatler – Wednesday 13 October 1943. Michael Conway was manager and secretary of the Naas Race Company from 1924 until his death in 1958.

Michael Nicholas Conway, Esq., M.R.C.V.S., was appointed manager and secretary of the Naas Race Company in August 1924, shortly before its second meeting, and retained both posts until his death almost 35 years later.

Born on Main Street, Naas, in 1896, he was the youngest brother of the company’s original secretary James Conway and a son of James Conway, Snr., and his wife Bridget / Brigid, née Flanagan, of Kerdern, Naas. Michael was educated at the C.B.S., Blackrock, before qualifying at the Veterinary College, Dublin. [117] In 1920, following his graduation, he went to London for almost two years. Upon his return, he briefly worked as a vet in Tuam before settling in Naas where he developed an extensive practice. He served alongside William Browne as one of the two official veterinary surgeons at the inaugural meeting of the Naas Races in June 1924.

An authority on bloodstock breeding, he was a well-known amateur jockey in his younger years and owned a number of well-regarded racehorses. [118] He was a member of the Kildare Hunt, as well as president of the Kildare Golf Club for many years. He was also Hon. Secretary of the County Kildare Horse Show.

By the late 1930s, M.N. Conway was manager and veterinary surgeon to the Hon. Gerald ‘Ginger’ Wellesley. In January 1940, he married Honor Mary Lawlor, a daughter of Michael Lawlor and his wife Mary Elizabeth (née Keely). Honor managed the outdoor catering for her aunt, the famous Mrs. Lawlor of Lawlor’s Hotel. Michael and Honor had three children prior to his premature death on 21 March 1958, namely James, Michael and Brigid. [119]

 

Settling In

 

After the inaugural event in June 1924, most jockeys spoke favourably of the course and declared the fences ‘well-made and well placed’. However, the Sport’s correspondent was less impressed. The Grandstand was ‘at an angle, which could have been bettered’; ‘the starting point was too close to the first bend’; they should not have allowed ‘vehicular traffic … along the narrow road at the back of the pay-boxes’. [120]

Ten days later, on 29 June, Naas Racecourse hosted a different sort of spectator event when a large crowd gathered for the Kildare Great County Feis, with singing, storytelling, dancing and music a-plenty. [121] In the weeks that followed, the island at large would be on tenterhooks with the release from Hare Park Internment Camp on the Curragh of 400 prisoners. As it happened, peace prevailed.

Perhaps the Naas Race Committee drew inspiration from the largely successful Tailteann games which commenced on 15 August, hot on the heels of the Summer Olympics in Paris. This sporting and cultural festival was designed to revive the spirit of the Tailteann Games held in County Meath in ancient times. The games were held again in 1928 and 1932, but petered out following Fianna Fáil’s accession to government in the latter year.

Meanwhile, Michael Conway took up the reins as course manager. By the time Naas hosted its second meeting on 2 September 1924, he had, by ‘raising and lowering the ground in the enclosures and altering the boundary paling … succeeded in greatly improving the view during the different contests.’ [122] Cub Kennedy scored another double and, while the crowd was down on the opening day, the racing was considered ‘excellent’.

 

Joe ‘Kidder’ Canty (1894-1971)

 

One of the star jockeys at Naas in the 1920s was Joe ‘Kidder’ Canty. The youngest of 18 children, he grew up on a farm at Kilfrush, Knocklong, County Limerick. In 1911 he became jockey to Michael John Dawson, Ireland’s foremost trainer at the time, and moved to Rathbride Manor, 20km west of Naas, from where he rode his first winner in 1912. He went on to marry Mr Dawson’s daughter Lena. Her brother Michael Dawson trained Sindon to win the Irish Derby in 1958.

Kidder Canty came third twice in the opening meet at Naas in 1924, before scoring a double first at the course’s third meeting. In March 1926, he recorded another double first at Naas aboard Prudent Pat (winner of the Galway Hurdle, 1928) and Petit Beau. He rode 117 winners in 1925 alone but a series of falls, and weight problems, meant he was confined to the flat by 1929. By the time he won his fifth 1,000 Guineas in 1948, he had triumphed in 17 Irish classics – a record for an Irish-born jockey. A flamboyant soul, with a keen eye for a punt, he remained a most colourful figure until his death in 1971, aged 76. His son, Joe Canty junior, is an advisor to Peter Maher Racing, Ashfield Stud, Newtown, County Kildare.

 

Come Rain, Come Shine

 

The third and fourth meetings at Naas in 1924 were two contrasting events. The third took place on 14 October, a day ‘so warm that it is stated to have been the hottest day for three years’, with 53 runners for the six events. [123] Kidder Canty was the star of the show, while Matt Dawson and fellow trainer Thomas Coombs racked up two wins a-piece. In the opinion of the Kildare Observer: ‘the arrangements were perfect, the traffic well looked after by the Civic Guard, and the catering of Mrs. Lawlor, Nas na Riogh Hotel, was excellent.’ [124]

Two weeks later, the same paper lamented that ‘it would be hard to imagine a worse day, from a weather stand-point’ for Naas to hold its fourth meeting. [125] Added to that, the races clashed with a rugby match between Ireland and the All-Blacks at Lansdowne Road, as well as a number of coursing meets. Nonetheless, the course drew 41 runners including the locally bred Parkaneska, who won the Naas Plate and went on to win a race on Monmouth Gold Cup day in Middletown, New Jersey. [126] As one correspondent observed after the race: ‘Nothing but a stayer could win at Naas, where the rise to the winning post will always favour the best horse.’ Naas was narrowly denied a connection to an early Cheltenham Gold Cup winner when Ballinode, a horse scheduled to take on Parkaneska in the Naas Plate, was withdrawn before the race. [127] In March 1925, Ballinode – known as the Sligo Mare – became the first mare and the first Irish-trained horse to win the famous Cheltenham race.

There was an ambience of positivity about Kildare’s sporting prowess at this time, following Naas’s recent victory in the County Kildare Senior Football Championship – its third title in a row. The club, which won its first county title in 1920, would form the nub of the mighty Lilywhites team that gave Kildare back-to-back wins in the All-Ireland in 1927 and 1928. [128]

 

No Stone Unturned

 

Over the course of the ‘dreary winter’ of 1924-1925, Michael Conway oversaw the addition of more loose boxes at Naas, so that by the opening meet of 1925 on Saturday 7 March, the course could stable 50 horses ‘in the most comfortable quarters’. His workmen also ‘obliterated forever the two bad turns on the far side of the course and raised the track by about 5ft, or 6ft, which ensures grand firm going and vastly improves the view from the enclosures’. In consequence, ‘the straight six furlongs has knit together splendidly, and will be found ideal galloping in the future’. In the Kildare Observer’s opinion, this was evidence that the Naas Race Company was ‘going to leave no stone unturned to make their track rank amongst the best in Ireland.’ [129] As it happened, 107 horses turned out for that opening meet.

The weather, of course, remained unpredictable. On 4 April 1925, the year’s second meeting took place amid ‘a hurricane of cold wind, with showers [that] broke down badly nearing the close of the evening’s programme.’ [130] Anyone hoping to avoid a soaking in such conditions must have been dismayed by a prohibition for spectators and bookmakers alike from using boxes, stools, umbrellas or anything that might impede the view for others. [131]

Four favourites won, leading one bookie to propose that they would soon be ‘running electric trams in the streets’ of Naas. Perhaps it was a better day for the numerous pickpockets reportedly on the prowl. Nonetheless, the Sport correspondent remained disgruntled by the location of the Grand Stand. He also denounced the dressing room accommodation where riders were ‘packed like sardines in a box between races’. [132]

 

Easter Hero – A Close Call

 

Easter Hero was scheduled to run in the Director’s Plate at Naas on 9 June 1925 but was a no-show.[133] Nine months later, the Meath-bred chestnut was entered for the Stand Plate at Naas but again failed to make the course. In May 1927, he was tipped for glory in the Punchestown Plate at Naas. Unfortunately, it was third time unlucky. Delayed getting into his box, he was once again ‘missing from the field’. Easter Hero went on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1929 and 1930, as well as the Champion Chase in 1931.

 

The Betting Tax of 1926

 

In 1926, the Irish government passed the Betting Act, which provided for the licensing of bookmakers and of other off-course offices where bets could be made. When the president signed the act into law on 28 July 1926, it also introduced a betting tax to Irish racing. This new tax was brought into operation for the first time on an Irish racecourse at Naas on 1 November 1926, the last meeting of the season.

According to the Kildare Observer, there was no drama at the event and, ‘but for the fact that it was general knowledge that the new Act was being enforced, few people would have noticed any difference between this meeting and any other.’ [134] The Naas Race Company would not have agreed with this summation because, while the tax undoubtedly generated useful revenue for the government, its impact was devastating to the company’s coffers. [135] Naas had been granted 10 days’ racing for 1927 but the year had barely begun before its struggle to make ends meet was making the news in London. [136] The matter was raised in Dáil Eireann on 29 March 1928 when Ernest Blythe, the Minister of Finance, was informed that prior to the act, Naas had hosted eight race meetings, each of which was ‘a financial success’, whereas all nine meetings held since showed a ‘substantial loss’.[137] On account of this ‘excessive taxation,’ the company could not afford its annual wage bill of £1000 and ‘discharged all its employees’. [138]

Nonetheless, the course continued to hold meetings during this time. Meanwhile, the government passed the Totalisator Act of 1929, establishing the Tote with the dual aim of providing a safe place for betting and raising funds for the industry. Bookmakers anxiously awaited the impact of the incoming Tote machines.

 

A Royal Mare

 

On 4 October 1926, the Naas Plate was won by two-year-old Queen Cole, a half-sister of The Tetrarch, by Roi Herode, one of Cub Kennedy’s finest stallions. Naas was her only victory in five starts before she was retired to stud. Nonetheless, she was considered a valuable brood mare, and was in foal to Lord Dunraven’s highly rated Warden of the Marshes. She fetched 2,400 guineas when Major Shirley sold her at the Newmarket sales in December 1928. [139]

 

Sad Times

 

The year 1927 brought sadness to Naas’s founding father Patrick Berney when his son Jack contracted pneumonia and, ‘despite all that medical skill could do’, died at Silloth Hill on 6 March, aged 29. [140] Just over a year later, the directors attended the funeral of Dr Murphy, the racecourse surgeon.

 

Goodwood Champion

 

On 26 March 1927, the Kingsfurze Plate at Naas was won by two-year-old Fleeting Memory, owned by Lady Weigall, the philanthropical daughter and heiress of Sir John Blundell Maple, the esteemed furniture maker. [141] A colourful lady, Sir John Weigall was her second husband and she had four children by four different men.

Trained by Roderic More O’Ferrall, who was also training Count John McCormack’s horses, the colt was subsequently sold for 800 guineas. The buyer was Solly Joel, one of three sons of a Jewish publican from London who had made their fortune with diamonds in South Africa in the 1890s. [142] Despite being ‘badly kicked’ at the starters’ post, Fleeting Memory went on to win the 1929 Stewards Cup at ‘Glorious Goodwood’. [143] He also won the Victoria Cup at Ascot in 1931. [144]

 

Radio Times

 

Following the formation of the Electricity Supply Board in August 1927, Naas was one of the first towns in Ireland to convert from gas to electricity. That same year, the Aintree Grand National became the first race to be broadcast live on BBC radio. [145]  In 1929, the Irish Derby was broadcast on radio for the first time. By the 1930s, many races were being broadcast on Radio Eireann, or 2RN as it was known. The medium of radio lent itself well to races: dramatic, unpredictable and all over within a few minutes. The voices of commentators such as Peter O’Sullevan and Michael O’Hehir would become iconic sounds of the 20th century.

Many listeners also tuned in on 25 September 1927 to hear Kildare defeat Kerry and win its third All-Ireland. A year later, the Lilywhites completed a double, defeating Cavan to claim the first ever Sam Maguire Cup. Nearly 100 years on, the team is still chasing its fifth All-Ireland.

 

Maxie Arnott’s Glory Days

 

Maxie Arnott.

At the opening meet of 1929 on 2 March, the Clonsilla-based trainer Cecil Maxwell Arnott (1882-1954), known as Maxie, notched up an unprecedented four wins from five. Mr Arnott, a director of the Irish Times, was a son of the Scottish department store tycoon, Sir John Arnott, who developed his business empire from an initial venture in Cork. [146] Among his victorious quartet that day was Kanowna, winner of the Osberstown Plate. The horse was owned by Viscount Lascelles, a son-in-law of King George V and Queen Mary. With the death of his father seven months later, the viscount succeeded as 6th Earl of Harewood.

Maxie’s roll continued at the next meeting on 30 March when he won three races. Claude Odlum scored a double with Lagonda and Tony Boy at the same event. [147]

At a meeting on 11 September, the performance by East Galway in the Harristown Chase ‘completely overshadowed everything else’, while the Naas Autumn Cup fell to Brighter Bird, ridden by ‘an unknown boy, Cannon, who adopted the now fashionable and successful tactics of getting as far in front as possible and remaining there.’ [148]

Seven weeks later, the final meeting of the decade took place on the misty afternoon of Friday 1 November. It had been, reported Sport, ‘one of the best years in the short history of this meeting’. [149] Mr Arnott’s Greenmount stable scored another treble, with the ‘indispensable’ Denis Ward riding all three winners. Tony Boy was again one of the winners; tragically, the same horse fell at Limerick in May 1930, fracturing Denis’s leg in such a way that he died following its amputation.

The week before that final meet of 1929 had seen the collapse of share prices on the New York Stock Exchange, precipitating the Wall Street Crash. As the western world tumbled into the economic depression, the directors of Naas were faced with the not inconsiderable challenge of keeping their fledgling racecourse in motion. [150]

 

 

End-Notes

 

[1] Weekly Freeman’s Journal, 29 May 1920, p. 4.

[2] Miss McEvoy was born in Naas circa 1836 when her father, Patrick, was the proprietor of the Globe Hotel. She was one of 7 children. Patrick died in 1855 and his wife, Kate, became proprietor. And following her death in November 1869, the licence was transferred to Anne. In mediaeval times, the hotel site was occupied by part of St John’s priory-hospital. Eamonn McEvoy, General Manager of Naas Racecourse is not thought to be related; his family are from County Louth.

[3] Wicklow People, Saturday 10 July 1920.

[3a] From History of Naas Town by Paddy Behan, here. “In 1902, Naas Carpet Factory was established in a classroom at the new convent school, with the aid of the local Gaelic League. The prime movers were Fr. D. Gorry and Stephen J.Brown, who later became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kildare Carpet Company Ltd. With the support of Lady Geraldine Mayo, of Palmerstown, the venture grew from strength to strength, and in 1904 moved to a new premises at Corbins Mill, Millbrook, where carpet was made to any size, shape, colour, shape or design. Customers own designs were catered for. The Directors in 1910 were, Geraldine, Countess of Mayo, Lord Frederick FitzGerald, John Edward Fottrell, Esq, Rev Edward Norris PP, Edward Glover, Esq, M..Inst. C.E., Stephen J. Brown, Esq, MA, JP, chairman, Robert M. Martin, Esq, Managing Director, Martin Salmon, Secretary, and Manager William S. Wild. In 1911 THE Kildare Carpet Company made four carpets for the RMS “Olympic” and the ill fated RMS “Titanic” that were owned by the Cunard Shipping Company at least two of these carpets were made at Naas. The factory ran into difficulty in 1912 due to lack of materials and finance, and it ceased operations in 1913 when it became a depot for some years, it was bought by the Maguire family in the 1920s and was later to gain fame as the one and only Mrs Lawlors Ballroom.”

[4] Value of Land-Naas Race Company, Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 24 July 1920.

[5] The Nass Race Company Ltd, Declaration of Compliance, 26 July 1922. Carlow Sentinel, Saturday, 7 August 1920.

[6] The paddocks remained subject to a £20 per year lease from Colonel de Burgh. That lease included a clause allowing the landlord the option to accept the tenant. Colonel de Burgh was in favour of the racecourse, but he had since sold the Naas East lease option to Stephen J. Brown, the man who farmed the two paddocks.

[7] By January 1922, he had 41 acres under tillage and 27 under rich and heavy manure.

[8] Kilkenny Observer, Saturday, 14 January 1922.

[9] D.J. Purcell and Messrs. M. Fitzsimons, J. Dowling, T. Patterson, M. Carroll, S. Garry had met on 29 December 1921 and ‘approve[d] of the Treaty as we believe it embodies the essentials of Ireland’s Freedom, although it does not give everything satisfactory to the aspirations of the Irish People.’ James Durney, Naas U. D. C. and the Irish Civil War, 28 October 1920, here.

[10] Kildare Observer, Saturday, 21 January 1922. The council members appointed to investigate the Naas Racecourse were Messrs. D.J. Purcell, Thomas Patterson, Mark Carroll, T.J. Williams and Stephen Garry.

[11] Kildare Observer, Saturday, 4th February 1922.

[12] Kildare Oberserver, Saturday, 4th February, 1922.

[13] In days of old, Naas would have been flooded by horse, foot, and dragoon soldiers from the Curragh, but by then British soldiers and officers were only “visitors”.

[14] Corrigan, Mario, with James Durney, Karel Kiely, Kevin Murphy and Kevin O Kelly, ‘A Timeline of the Civil War in County Kildare, 1922-1924’ (Kildare Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives Department, Kildare Library Services, 2022).

[15] Michael Fitzsimons was born in Moortown, Kildare, on 29 August, 1867, to George Fitzsimons and Catherine Behan. In October 1893, he applied for a Magistrate’s Certificate to entitle him to receive a Transfer of Licence to Sell Beer, Cider, and Spirits by Retail, at the house and premises situated at Main Street, Naas, which was licenced at the time in the name of Katie A Keely whom he married earlier that year. [Bridget Lawlor, the famous caterer, was born a Keely.] They had one daughter who died in infancy. Michael successfully applied for an Auctioneer’s Licence in 1904. Katie died in 1913 and the following year Michael married Bridget Agnes Doran with whom he had 3 sons, the youngest Patrick James joined him in his auctioneering business in 1947 when they traded as Michael Fitzsimons and Son. Michael was a member of the Naas Urban Council for over 40 years and was elected Chairman on several occasions. The fact that he held the confidence of the public for so many years speaks of his integrity and sterling character. His sound common-sense and broadmindedness made him a successful administrator. He won the confidence of his colleagues on the public bodies by his obvious sincerity and his desire to do what was fair and honourable towards every section of the public. He took a deep interest in the progress of Technical Education which, as a member of the Co. Vocational Education Committee, he gave every support and encouragement. He was also a most successful businessman. Michael died at his residence on North Main Street, Naas, on 3 September 1953.

[16] The Harriers started as a Farmer’s hunt back in 1918, when political agitation was starting to make hunting unpopular again. Patrick Berney was reportedly the prime mover behind the venture. Other prominent Kildare sportsmen associated with the Hunt’s formation were the Osborne, McDermott and Valentine brothers, Larry Byrne, Tom Smith and Miss Mollie Brown of Naas. Starting as a mixed pack, the Naas Harriers would be kennelled at Jigginstown until 2000 when transferred to Punchestown. According to a 1969 article regarding the 50th anniversary of the Harriers, they were also kennelled at Barrettstown, Newbridge.

[17] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 18 March 1922, p. 5. ‘That it [was] a very popular re-union was thoroughly proved by the vast attendance of all classes.’

[18] Kildare Observer, Saturday, 25th February, 1922; Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 18 March 1922, p. 5. There was an ongoing dispute between the Curragh trainers and stableboys at this time, as referenced by Mario Corrigan & co. in ‘A Timeline of the Civil War in County Kildare, 1922-1924’ (Kildare Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives Department, Kildare Library Services, 2022).

[19] Leinster Leader, Saturday, 17 February, 1923; Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 24 February 1923, p. 2.

[20] Sunday 16th April 1922 a great Leinster Rally was held in Naas in support of the Free State. The main speaker was Mr Michael Collins T.D. other speakers Mr Joseph McGrath TD, Alderman M.J. Staines, TD. and Mr Kevin O’Higgins, TD. The Kildare Observer reported that they were entertained with dinner in the Town Hall on Sunday Evening. ‘Rev Fr Doyle CC. presided, and the dinner having concluded, said he need not say how proud he was to propose a toast to Mr Collins. He had the proud privilege of claiming Mr Collins, as a personal friend.’

“On April 26-27 1922, Punchestown Races had to be delayed by a day due to the general strike, which disrupted the preparations and arrival of trainers, horses, etc. At Punchestown two armed men held up the driver and stole the Crossley saloon of the Lord Lieutenant, Lord FitzAlan, who was in attendance at the races.” Corrigan, Mario, with James Durney, Karel Kiely, Kevin Murphy and Kevin O Kelly, ‘A Timeline of the Civil War in County Kildare, 1922-1924’ (Kildare Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives Department, Kildare Library Services, 2022).

[21] Liam Kenny, Kildare Local History: Air crash near Naas at start of Civil War in July 1922, 24 July 2022, here.

30 November 1922 brought the death of 52-year-old Algernon ‘Algy’ Anthony, who won the Aintree Grand National twice. He first won in 1900 as a jockey on Ambush II in the colours of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII. Based at Westenra Lodge on the Curragh, Kildare, he won his second National as a trainer in 1920 with Troytown. He also won the Irish Derby on Oppressor in 1899 and on Carrigavalla in 1901. He was buried in Kildare Cathedral.

[22] Carlow Sentinel, Saturday, 7 August 1920; Leinster Leader, 14 August 1954. The meeting was chaired by Thomas Whelan.

[23] Kildare Observer February 17, 1923; February 24, 1923. The most valuable furniture had been removed to Dublin after the destruction of Palmerstown.

[24] Irish Racegoers held up-Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer-3 Apr 1923.

[25] The following notice was published in Sport (Dublin), Freeman’s Journal and the Kildare Observer on Saturday 23 June 1923:

THE NAAS RACE COMPANY, LIMITED.

CAPITAL.

The authorised Capital of the Company is £15,000, divided into 15,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each. Of the said Shares 6,000 are to be issued to the Vendors in payment for their properties, and will be credited as fully paid up, and 6,000 further Shares are about to be offered for public subscription.

____

Chairman of Directors:

THOMAS WHELAN, Esq., North Main Street, Naas, Co. Kildare. Merchant.

Directors:

PATRICK BERNEY, Esq., Sllliothill, Kilcullen, Kildare, Co. Kildare, Landowner.

EDWARD BROPHY, Esq., Newlands, Naas. Co. Kildare, Landowner.

JAMES CONWAY. Esq., Junior, Keridern, Naas, Co. Kildare, Landowner.

EDWARD S. DOWLING. Esq., South Main Street, Naas, Co. Kildare, Merchant.

CHARLES FARRELL, Esq., Ballynagappagh, Clane, Co. Kildare, Landowner.

EDWARD KENNEDY, Esq., Bishopscourt, Straffan, Co. Kildare, Landowner.

GENERAL THE RT. HON SIR BRYAN T. MAHON, P.C., Mullaboden, Ballymore-Eustace, Co. Kildare, Retired Lieutenant-General.

____

 

The above-named Company is about to issue a Prospectus inviting subscriptions for 6,000 (six thousand) Ordinary Shares of £1 each, payable as to 10/. on application and as to the balance on the 1st September 1923. Copies of the Prospectus and Forms of Application for Shares will be obtainable on and after the 26th Jul, 1923, from any of the Directors, or from the Manager, Mr. Thomas J. Fleming, No. 7 Anglesea Street, Dublin; the Solicitor, Mr. Daniel P. Blaney. 44 South Main Street, Naas; or from the Hibernian Bank. Ltd., College Green, Dublin, or any of its County Kildare branches. The Subscription List will close on the 10th July, 1923.

The Company has been formed to acquire in fee simple (subject to Land Purchase Annuities) certain part of the lands of Kingsfurze and certain part of the lands of Maudlings, situate within the Naas Urban District, and to construct and establish a Racecourse and conduct Race Meetings thereon, and on certain adjoining lands, over which racing rights have been secured, and for the various objects and purposes set forth in the Memorandum of Association of the Company.

The site of the proposed Racecourse, which will include a Course for Steeplechasing and a Course for Flat Racing, with a straight Six-Furlong Course, is situated within three minutes’ walk from Naas Railway Station, in the midst of one of the most sporting communities in Ireland, and at the easy motoring distance of only twenty miles or so from the City of Dublin. Suitable Motor and Carriage Enclosures will be provided, and it is intended to erect Stand accommodation for about 3,000 persons. It is hoped to obtain the necessary official sanction for twelve days’ racing in each year, and the Directors are confident that the Racecourse will prove a financial as well as a sporting success. The lands have been inspected by several experienced racing men, who have expressed unqualified approval of the proposed Racecourse and consider that its situation could not be excelled. The Official Inspector of Courses to the Turf Club and to the National Hunt Committee has visited the land, and has given his sanction to the laying out of the Course as planned.

The Vendors, six of whom are Directors of the Company, are conveying to the Company, at the actual cost of same to themselves, the lands above referred to and the benefit of the Agreements entered into by them, or on their behalf, for the grant to the Company of the necessary racing rights on certain adjoining lands, and are taking the purchase money and expenses, provided by them out of their own pockets, wholly in fully-paid Shares of the Company. Six thousand of the £1 Ordinary Shares of the Company will thus be disposed of.

This Notice is not to be regarded as an invitation to the public to subscribe for Shares.

[26] Kildare Observer, Saturday, 7th July 1923.

[27] Rosanna Doyle and her sister Harriet came from Gales Hill, Ballickmoyler; Harriet married Thomas’s brother Edward. Rosanna Whelan’s obituary appeared in the Kildare Observer, 21 September 1907

[28] The Public Notice of the Nass Race Company Ltd published in June 1923 states that Thomas Whelan was chairman.

[29] He died on 21 March 1931. Obituary in Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 4 April 1931, p. 2.

[30] After James died in 1944, Annie sold the premises and moved to Dublin where she died in 1960. Their only child, Marie, lived on Dublin’s Appian Way and ran a boutique in Ranelagh in the mid-1960s. Oliver Whelan, whose father was Thomas Whelan’s first cousin, recalls lodging with Marie for a short while as ‘an impoverished student’ in UCD. She sold her boutique in Ranelagh in the mid-1960s – the beginning of a long retirement. She went on a not-quite-world tour then, spending some time with her cousins in South Africa. She died in 2016 and was buried in the family plot in Naas. He death ended the direct Whelan line in Naas, although Marie had several Fitzsimons cousins around Naas.

[31] Charles Farrell was born on 13 April 1866. His mother was Catherine / Kate Burke / Bourke. His name is sometimes spelled as Charley.

[32] In the early 1890s, on the eve of the first modern Olympiad, international newspapers marvelled at the prowess of a Kildare born athlete who was taking the sporting world by storm. In the 1880s and 1890s, he was an international athletic sensation, setting and breaking several world records. Many of these records remained unbroken for many years after his death, some indeed for over 50 years. The man in question was Thomas Conneff, born in 1866 near the village of Clane and in the shadow of Clongowes Wood College. Such was his prowess that James Joyce included Conneff as one of the heroes of Ireland in Ulysses. Conneff enjoyed international celebrity akin to what modern day sports stars do. In his early teens, Conneff received instruction in athletic training from Charles Farrell.

[33] ‘No charity or deserving object ever failed to touch his heart. It was said that it would be impossible to enumerate all the good deeds and acts of kindness that flowed from his generous heart, for the simple reason that no one ever knew but the person directly concerned. He had a truly great nature and abhorred ostentation and show. He was straightforward, honest and true and was one of nature’s gentleman.’ Charles died at his residence in Ballinagappa on 14 October 1938, and his funeral was private. All he asked was that a prayer be said for him. His 1938 obituary would lead one to conclude that he was chairman of the Directors of Naas Race Company at the time of his death.

[34] The runners went via Westmoreland St., College Green and Dame St. to Inchicore and on to Naas. In 1926, the 9 competitor field included Irish Marathon Champion J. O’Reilly from Galway. It was won by Martin O’Brien from Naas in 2 hrs 20 mins. The race was revived for the Naas Feis on Sunday 1 May 1932 when D. J. McKeown / McKeon (Blackrock A.C.) won the cup outright, his third victory in succession. See Leinster Leader, 4 August 1984, here.

[35] Dublin Evening Post, 27 November 1868, p. 1.

[36] William Brophy was born in Jigginstown House, Naas, and married Catherine Keary (1842-1923), aka Kate, in 1868. She was a daughter of Paddy Keary and his wife, Mary Anne (1806-1870). William and Kate were at Herbertstown House from the 1870s. Edward Brophy was born on 9 January 1885.

William Brophy’s mares and yearlings also grazed in the sheltered paddocks of Crotanstown on the Newbridge side of the Curragh, before Captain Greer took it over. William Brophy bred Laodamia, Philomei, ‘and many other noted race-horses.’ He won the Irish Derby in 1880 with the moderate and unfancied colt King of the Bees having earlier in the year landed the Irish Grand National with King of the Bees half-brother Controller. Uniquely, both winners were out of the same Dam Winged Bee. Daniel O’Connell apparently stayed at the two-storey Georgian home of Jigginstown House, which became part of Homeless Care since 2021, ​info@homelesscare.ie

[37] “At the Dublin Horse Show in August 1892, which has just taken place, the stud of the late Mr William Brophy of Herbertstown, consisting of thirteen lots, was sold by auction by Mr Robert J Goff. This sale was perhaps the most extraordinary that ever took place in Ireland. Apart from the prices realised, a record has been scored which is not only without parallel but it is likely to remain so. A brood mare with foal at foot, her yearling, her two year old and her three year old were sold at the same time, and fetched a total of 10,850 guineas.’ [Harry R. Sargent, ‘Thoughts Upon Sport: A Work Dealing Shortly with Each Branch of Sport; to which are Added Memoirs of the Curraghmore Hunt, Punchestown and the Curragh; of Osbaldeston, Ross and Barclay Allardice, Etc (Photo-prismatic publishing Company, limited, 1894), p. 96.

[38] She died in November 1923. Corrigan, Mario, with James Durney, Karel Kiely, Kevin Murphy and Kevin O Kelly, ‘A Timeline of the Civil War in County Kildare, 1922-1924’ (Kildare Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives Department, Kildare Library Services, 2022).

[39] Margaret Brophy and JJ Parkinson were married on 25 February 1895. He was a son of Martin Parkinson, farmer, and lived at Brownstown at the time of his marriage. Margaret died in 1954.

[40] Parkinson won four Irish Oaks and the Irish Derbies of 1917 and 1919. He also saddled four winners at Epsom on Derby Day in 1909; a fifth horse was beaten by a short head, having jumped the road on the way to the finish line.

[41] James Joseph Parkinson died in 1948 and, after requiem mass at St. Brigid’s church in Suncroft, Co. Kildare, was buried in Tramore. Margaret and JJ had three sons and five daughters. His stable was taken over by his third son, Emmanuel. [Paul Rouse, ‘James Joseph (‘J. J.’) Parkinson’, Dictionary of Irish Biography] Margaret Parkinson, née Brophy, died at Maddenstown Lodge in 1954 and was buried at St Bridget’s Church, Suncroft. According to her obituary in the Leinster Leader of 16 January 1954, p. 7, she was on the committee of both the Irish Hospitals Trust and the Drogheda Memorial Hospital, Curragh, as well as being one of the original members of the Kildare County Hospital (formerly the Kildare Infirmary). Keenly interested in Catholic charities and social work, she made numerous to pilgrimages to Rome, Lourdes and the Holy Land, as well as other parts of Europe. She and Joseph had two sons, the jockey Billy Parkinson (d. 1941), who predeceased her, and Emmanuel, a sometime leading amateur jockey (and later director of the Fleming’s Fireclays Quarries at Swan, which was based in Athy), as well as four daughters, (1) Anne, who married the Monaghan-born Lieutenant General Peadar MacMahon (1893-1975), first Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces (1924-1927) and Secretary at the Department of Defence (1927-1958), see photo here; (2) Helen, wife of Henry French of Dublin; (3) Margaret, wife of Oliver T.V. Slocock of Castletown, Ballylinan, Athy, County Kildare [owner of the stallion, Jackdaw of Rheims, which he bred at Hanover Stud, Carlow]; and (4) Kitty, aka Kathleen, wife of Captain John Sweeney, Royal West Yeomanry, and District Surveyor in the British Post Office and official of the British Ministry of Information. [Kitty and John’s marriage announced in Waterford Standard, 31 August 1929, p. 9; he died suddenly at 50 Upper Mall, London, on 18 September 1940, as per Irish Independent, 24 September 1940, p. 1.]

The Flemings Fireclay Quarries at Swan was the site at which Richard Griffith coined the term ‘fireclay’ in 1814; it has been used in geological literature ever since.

JJ Parkinson was also on close terms with Seán Lemass and Liam Cosgrave. See John Horgan’s biography ‘Sean Lemass: The Enigmatic Patriot’, here.

[42] The name Goffs has been synonymous with Irish bloodstock sales for 150 years. Robert J. Goff was appointed official auctioneer to the Turf Club in 1866 and the announcement in the Irish Racing Calendar ushered in a new era for bloodstock vendors. When the newly appointed official auctioneer conducted his first sale at the Royal Dublin Society Sales Paddocks in Dublin, the facilities were rudimentary, with only half a dozen boxes and a makeshift parade ring. However, the merit of supporting a local sales company, rather than the cross-channel alternatives, was not lost on Irish breeders and the new venture flourished steadily over the years. The first lot sold under the R. J. Goff hammer was a brown filly by the stallion Arbitrator for 350 guineas. In 1907, after Robert Goff’s death, Patrick J. Brophy of Newbridge became a partner with Richard F. Gannon and Mrs. Goff. The Company was run by these three until 1922 when it became a limited company under the chairmanship of Edward Kennedy, see below.

[43] PJ Brophy lived at Dowdingstown, Athgarvan, and later at Jigginstown up until his death in 1949. Leinster Leader, 19 February 1949, p. 4. In 1907, PJ married Mary O’Connor (1887-1961), daughter of (Senator) Joseph O’Connor of Mylerstown House and sister of Margaret Osborne of Tipper. PJ and Mary were the parents of Con, Dick, Joe, Ted, Tom and Charlie.

See also 10 June 1933 tragedy regarding his son Con here. PJ had winning horses at Naas was part of an early deputation on behalf of Naas Racecourse.

[44] Corrigan, Mario, James Durney, Kevin O Kelly, with Kevin Murphy and Karel Kiely, ‘A Timeline of the War of Independence in County Kildare, 1919-1922’ (Kildare Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives Department, Kildare Library Services, 2021) here, 7 March 1920; Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 13 March 1920, p. 8; Leinster Leader, 12 Dec 1953, p. 9, which includes many extra details of Brophy nephews and nieces; Leinster Leader, 16 January 1954, p. 7. He should not be confused with Thomas Patrick Brophy (1879-1962), Chief Fire Marshal of the New York City Fire Department.

[45] Mary Ann Brophy was married in Newbridge to Charles ‘Charlie’ Ellison on 11 September 1895, seven months after Margaret married JJ Parkinson. (He was a kinsman of the architect Charlie Ellison who lived with his family on Nutley Road in Dublin c. 1960s). Charles died at Maddenstown aged 35 in 1902. Mary only survived him by five years. His sister-in-law Tessie Brophy was present when he died. Mary Anne Brophy died at her brother PJ’s Dordingstown residence in 1907, aged 36. Tess, the youngest Brophy girl, was described as ‘a very devoted and practical Catholic’ and died unmarried in 1951. Her death was recorded in the Leinster Leader, 29 September 1951, p. 4.

[46] Patrick Long, ‘Peadar MacMahon (1893–1975)’, Dictionary of Irish Biography. MacMahon became the first chief of staff of the Defence Forces on 27 October 1924. The wedding took place on 30 April, see here.

[47] The Nationalist and Leinster Times, 23 Nov 1962. Edward Brophy died from Coronary Thrombosis, 3 days certified, on 12 November 1962.

[48] Daisy died in 1972. ‘The death has occurred at Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, Dublin of Mrs. Margaret Mary (Daisy) Brophy, wife of Mr. Edward Brophy, Newlands House, Naas. Remains were removed to Two Mile House Church and the interment took place Sunday, February 27 in the adjoining cemetery. She is survived by sons, sister, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and relatives.’ Nationalist and Leinster Times, 10 Mar 1972.

[49] Daisy’s maiden name was Margaret Mary Gannon. The Brophy’s formal names were Edward Jr (Ted), William (Billy) and Richard (Dick).

Richard Edward Brophy, aka Dick (1923-2002) was married on 5 September 1955 to Carmel Dolores Davey, known as ‘Dodes’, of Clonmel. (Munster Tribune, 12 August 1955, p. 9. See wedding picture here.) His brother Billy was his best man. They initially lived at Newtown, by Punchestown, and then at Herbertstown where they raised two sons, Richard ‘Richie’ Brophy (b. 1966, m. Lorna Keating, now track manager of the Curragh) and Ned (b. 1968), and six daughters, Mary (1956-1987), Ann (b. 1957, m. Ger McDonald), Gemma (b. 1959, m. John Fitzsimons), Adrienne (b. 1960, m. Tom O’Keeffe of Coughlanstown), Geraldine (n. 1961, m. Willie Headon) and Leonie (b. 1963). Mary tragically died in a car accident in February 1987. Dodes died on 4 June 2021.

Billy (b. 1924) was married in 1963 to Mary Nolan and had a son John (b. 1965) and three daughters, Maeve, Susan and June.

Teddy, Edward and Daisy’s youngest son, was born in 1925 and played rugby for Naas before being pinned beneath a truck and badly injured in 1953. In 1960, he married Imelda Davitt, with whom he had Victor, Paul, Ian, Eric, Vivienne and Alan. During the ‘Galway Races at Home’ Phone a Friend’ campaign in the lockdown of 2020, he received a call from Paul Carberry. He died the following year at the age of 95.

Herbertstown House Stud was sold in 1986.

[50] Patrick Berney was a son of Peter Berney and Eliza Nugent. His brother Thomas Berney, who ran the saddlery in Kilcullen, died in 1955 and was great-grandfather to Jamie Berney of Berney Bros, Kilcullen.

[51] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 30 December 1911, p. 5.

[52] Patrick Berney, Kilcullen. Registration: IO 87.

[53] In 1923, he resigned as Master due to pressure of work and was presented with a gold whip. His place was taken by Col. Henry Mansfield.

[54] Edward Dowling was born on 26 December 1875. He was a son of John Dowling and Deborah Whelan.

[55] When Rear Admiral Hood’s ship Invincible was blown up at Jutland, killing all but six of the 1026 men on board, Frank Kennedy took command of the squadron.

[56] In 1922, Goffs became a limited company under the chairmanship of Edward Kennedy, the renowned breeder of “the spotted wonder”, The Tetrarch. A board of directors consisting of Frederick S. Myerscough, Patrick J. Brophy, Senator J. J. Parkinson and Col. A. J. Blake completed the new management team. In 1925, on the death of Edward Kennedy, Frederick Myerscough became chairman and managing director. This was forging a connection with the company which was destined to continue for three generations through his son, Cyril, and two grandsons, Robert and Philip Myerscough. Under Frederick Myerscough, a branch office was maintained in Newbridge but the company established its main offices in Dublin at Sewell & Son and Simpson’s Yard in Mount Street where sales were held in addition to those at the R.D.S.

Upon Edward Kennedy’s death in 1925, Frederick Myerscough became its chairman and managing director

[57] Banjo Patersen seemingly visited Bishopscourt during WW1, on his way to the front. He wanted to see where The Tetrach came from.

[58] Edward Robert Kennedy, known as “Cub”, was born in Kildare, to Robert Kennedy, H.M.L. of Baronrath, Straffan, Kildare, and Alice Elizabeth Gray. In London in 1905, he married Beryl “Doris” Lumsdaine of Glen View, Sydney, Australia. They had 9 children of whom a daughter, Doris Maeve Emelie, married George Robinson of Phepotstown House near Kilcock, Co. Meath, in 1932, whose son George William Robinson aka G. W. aka Willie became a legend in Irish racing.

Edward was a well-known breeder of racehorses whose purchase of the stallion Roi Herode (King Herod) caused some surprise, but proved the soundness of his judgement, for it led to the breeding of The Tetrarch and other successful racehorses. Bought in 1912 for 13,000 guineas by Atty Persse, who trained him, and ridden by Steve Donoghue, the horse was undefeated in all his seven races as a two year old in 1913. His blinding speed astonished all who saw him and he is still credited with being the fastest horse that ever raced! The Agha Khan in 1924 said, “In all horses of The Tetrarch blood there is a little magic box, which means much.”

Edward purchased Bishopscourt Estate, Kill, Co. Kildare in 1914 from the 7th Earl of Clonmel and set up a stud farm that earned a wide renown. He also raced many horses of his own. He was a prominent cattle dealer, being an active member of the Executive of the Irish Cattle Traders’ and Stock Owners’ Association. In this connection, he took a keen interest in the ravages of the warble fly and delivered a lecture on the subject, pointing out the damage which the fly caused to the hide industry of Ireland. He was a director of the now extinct Dublin and Lancashire Shipping Company, and was keenly disappointed when an attempt to establish an independent shipping company for the Irish cattle trade failed to receive the support that had been expected. He was also a director of Messrs. Goff and Sons, the well-known auctioneers. He died at Elpis Private Hospital, Dublin, on 22 January, 1925.

Edward Robert Kennedy and Beryl Doris Lumsdaine

  1. Doris Caroline Sabia Kennedy, known as Toby, who married Ginger Wellesley in 1929 and divorced him in 1953. My father adds: ‘Toby and Ginger were friends of my parents and in their time most successful trainers. Toby was several times an overstayed guest at Lisnavagh later on and at one stage lived at Rathmore Park. Ginger married, I think thirdly, Valerie Pitman, a Butler cousin, whose father rewarded me generously for being a trustee.’
  2. Maeve, known as Billie, married George John Robinson at St John the Baptist’s Church, Kill, on 8 June 1932. They were parents of G.W. Robinson.
  3. Clodagh (d. 1989), known as Lambie, married Robert Jocelyn, 9th Earl of Roden, in 1937. My father adds: “Her husband entertained me and a couple of others in Fort St. Angelo, of which he was Captain, in 1957 on my first visit to Malta (HMS Venus).”
  4. Grania Geraldine, married Captain Edward de Lérisson Cazenove in 1947, divorced in 1956. Their daughter stayed at Lisnavagh in the 1960’s. Dad adds: ‘I recall with Jasper Tubbs of Pollerton on a horse in the Little Lodge Field whatever they were at.’
  5. (John) Edward Kennedy (b. 1909), died on 17 August 1930 at Longford after a fall in a steeplechase, unmarried.
  6. Robert Kennedy (1911-1990), married Catherine Frances Gregory, daughter of Major William Robert Gregory. My father thinks he was associated with Hereford cattle and Ashbourne Market.
  7. Percy William Kennedy (1914-2016), known as Darby, married Joan Hilda Cooper, daughter of Sydney Cooper, a founder member of the British Airlines Pilot Association in 1937; Chief Pilot, AER Lingus (1943-1947). Associated with Weston Airfield between Leixlip and Lucan. He and Joan were the parents of Rosemary (Leonard), Roger, Margaret (Harty), Richard and Judith (Barry).
  8. Patricia Kennedy (1917-1988), known as Tiggie, married Dermot McGillycuddy, The Mac Gillycuddy of the Reeks on 12 December 1938. My father adds: “They too were friends of my parents. Pally and I stayed with them and Donough at Bishopscourt, Straffan, several times and I recall shooting there.”
  9. Major Darby Michael Kennedy (b. 1919), killed in action on 21 February 1945 while serving as Major in the 3rd Battalion, Irish Guards.

[59] Mahon served in the Dongola Expedition in 1896 as Staff officer to Sir Herbert Kitchener, and was present at the Battle of Ferkeh and the operations at Hafir. In 1899, he took part in the final defeat of the Khalifa as Assistant Adjutant general in charge of Intelligence, and was mentioned in despatches, dated 25 November 1899, by Colonel Wingate: ‘I cannot speak in sufficiently strong terms of the excellence of the services performed by this officer. I invariably placed him in general command of all the mounted troops; his personal disregard for danger, intrepid scouting, and careful handling of men, all fit him for high command; his bold and successful seizure of the position in front of Fedil’s camp, and his conduct of the fight before I came up, show him to be possessed of exceptional qualities as a commander.’ In recognition of his service in the Sudan, he received the brevet promotion to colonel on 14 March 1900.

[60] Mahon was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) for his services during the operations, and was invested with the order by King Edward VII on 2 June 1902 after his return to the United Kingdom.

[61] The 10th Division landed at Suvla Bay on the night of 6–7 August 1915. Among the Naas dead on the first day of the Gallipoli campaign were Private Michael Kavanagh (24), 1st RDF, from Corbans Lane, Naas; Lance-Corporal Michael Heffernan (23), 1st RDF, from Eadestow; Private James Birmingham, 1st RDF, from Dublin Road, Naas, and the wounded, Private Thomas Doran, from the Harbour, Naas; Private Coughlin, Rathasker Road, Naas; and Private Christopher Pierce, Corbans Lane, Naas. (James Durney).

In September 1915, Bryan Mahon moved with the Division to command the British Salonika Army supporting Serbia at the onset of the Macedonian campaign. In 1916 he took up command of the Western Frontier Force in the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

[62] Bryan Thomas Mahon was born in Belleville, County Galway, on 2 April, 1862, to Henry Blake Mahon and Matilda Margaret Seymour (of Ballymore Castle). He was an Irish born general of the British Army, a senator of the short-lived Senate of Southern Ireland, and a member for eight years of the Irish Free State Senate until his death. He took no prominent part in politics, but had an important influence on the fortunes of the Irish Free State through his activity in restoring the amenities of life in Southern Ireland through the revival of sport, and his example, as a member of the gentry class, in helping to rebuild the social structure in the country.

Keenly interested in racing, hunting and Army athletics, Sir Bryan was a popular figure. His interest in both racing and breeding was very deep, and he possessed a wide and practical knowledge of all that was of concern to the welfare of the thoroughbred in the country.

A comprehensive intimacy with the legislative needs of racing marked him out as pre-eminently qualified to foster its interests, and for some years he generously extended this help as a Steward of the Irish Turf Club, and at a time when racing had entred on a critical phase due to the betting tax and waning attendances. Sir Bryan would have become senior steward of the Turf Club but, for reasons which were not made public, he resigned. He, however, remained the senior steward of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee.

His shrewd common sense and a liberal-minded detachment in his consideration of any incidents calling for investigation inspired an unshakeable confidence among owners, trainer, and also the public. He assumed the management of Punchestown following the 1925 death of Edward Kennedy, a director of Naas Race Company.

In the 1920s, his colours, “black, red sleeves, gold cap”, were sported by a number of very promising two-year olds, including the well-bred Silver Work and Florence Gay, which were trained for him by Fred Grundy and J. T. Rogers on the Curragh.

Courteous and endowed with a kindliness and geniality of manner, Sir Bryan was an attractive personality. To him was given the outlook of the disinterested enthusiasm of the old time-sportsman.

In 1920, he married Amelia Madeline Louisa “Lelia” Crichton, the only daughter of Lt-Col. Hon. Charles Frederick Crichton (son of the 3rd Earl of Erne) and of Lady Madeline Taylour (daughter of the 3rd Marquis of Headfort). She was the widow of Sir John Peniston Milbanke VC (1872-1915), 10th Baronet of Halnaby. Sir Bryan died on 24 September, 1930, at Earlsfort Mansions, Dublin, where he had been living for some months.

[63] General Mahon retired from the British Army at the end of August 1921 and was elected to the short-lived Senate of Southern Ireland, serving alongside Lord Rathdonnell.

[64] David Mongey, ‘Progressive Diplomacy’ The Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, 2017, p. 58-59.

[65] Shareholders in New Naas Race Co, Irish Society (Dublin), Sat 30 June 1923.

[66] He was appointed steward of the Turf Club in April 1922. The general was also a well known figure on the hunting field in County Kildare. He was also ‘well-known in the Kibworth district’ of Leicestershire, being ‘a personal friend of the late Col. Wood of The Gables, Kibworth, and for several seasons hunted with the Fernie and the Quorn hounds.’

[67] The Catholic Telegraph, Volume XCIX, Number 40, 2 October 1930.

[68] He died on 24 September 1930. The Evening Herald declared him ‘courteous, and endowed with a kindliness and geniality of manner.’

Chain-smoking reference from Truth, 1 October 1930.
DEATH OF SIR BRYAN MAHON THE MAN WHO RELIEVED MAFEKING

Noted Irish Soldier’s Many Honours

General Sir Bryan Mahon, the reliever of Mafeking, died in Dublin at four o’clock this morning. Sir Bryan Mahon had a distinguished career in the army extending over 46 years, during which he was awarded a number of decorations. Born in County Galway in 1862, he was gazetted to the 8th Hussars when he became 21. He served first in India, and then went through the Egyptian campaign, winning his D.S.O. in the Dongola Expedition. He was awarded the Soudan war medal and the Egyptian war medal with eight clasps. Sir Bryan commanded the cavalry brigade in South Africa, and was the leader of the Imperial Light Horse, which in 1900 cut through the Boer lines to the relief of Mafeking. He was twice mentioned in despatches, was created a C.B., and was awarded the Queen’s medal with three clasps.

During the Great War he raised the 10th (Irish) Division, and in 1915 was in command of the Salonika Army. He became Commander-in-Chief in Ireland in 1916, and held that post for two years. In 1917 he was created member of the Irish Privy Council, and had been a member of the Senate of the Irish Free State since 1921. He was created a K.C.B. in 1922. He had received a number of foreign decorations, including the Grand Officer Legion of Honour and Grand Cross White Eagle (Serbia). His resignation in March, 1928, from the stewardship of the Turf Club caused much surprise in Ireland. In 1920 Sir Bryan married Amelia, widow of Sir John Milbanke, V.C., who was killed in action in the Dardanelles in 1917. Sir John was father of the boxing baronet. Lady Mahon died in 1927.

[Dundee Evening Telegraph – Wednesday 24 September 1930]

[69] General the Rt Hon. Sir Bryan Thomas Mahon KCB, KCMG, DSO, KCVO, PC (Ire) was born on 2 April 1862. His obituary in The Tatler (8 October 1930):
“He was the best exemplification of what that so often misapplied word “sportsman” really means of any man who ever drew the breath of life, for he was incapable of either a mean act or an unworthy thought. He lived as he rode, straight as a gun-barrel, and in his younger days what a real good man he was to hounds, between the flags, for he rode a very good race, and in that far more dangerous arena than either of these, the pursuit of a thing called quite rightly the grim grev boar.” He won the Kadir Cup in 1888, when he was a. major in the 8th Hussars, of which he was the colonel when he died, and he was in the regimental polo team, which, however, was never lucky enough to win an Inter- Regimental. In 1887, 1888 and 1889, the 8th Hussars carried all before them in the Kadir, as Major Clowes won in 1887, Sir Bryan Mahon in 1888, and Captain Jules Legallais in 1889.

Sir Bryan Mahon was on the committee of the Hog-Hunters’ Dinner which was held in London last year, and as a matter of fact it was just before that he was stricken down with pneumonia, and I have his wire, wishing everyone luck and regretting that he could not be with us, before me as I write. This season I was to have stayed with him in Dublin when I went to Ireland to hunt with two or three packs, and in the last letter which I got only about a fortnight ago he said he was much better but had been having a bad time He never really recovered from his illness of last year or the deep sorrow he felt over his wife’s death in 1927.”

Evening Herald (Dublin) of 24 September 1930:

Sir Bryan Mahon would have become senior steward of the Turf Club but for reasons which were not made public he resigned. He, however, remained the senior steward of the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. His shrewd common sense and a liberal-minded detachment in his consideration of any incidents calling for investigation inspired an unshakable confidence among owners. trainers„ and, it should be added, the public. PATRONAGE OF THE TURF.

His military career only in recent years freed him for an active participation in racing, but he was rarely absent from the principal meetings. He assumed the management of Punchestown some years ago in succession to the late Mr. Edward Kennedy, and in this capacity, not only his business-like insight, but his wholehearted love of the hunter found its most sympathetic medium of interest in conferring a renewed lease of prosperity on this world-famed meeting. A couple of seasons back his colours, “black, red sleeves, gold cap,” were sported by a number of very promising two-year-olds, including the well-bred Silver Work and Florence Gay, which were trained for him by Fred Grundy and J. T. Rogers at the Curragh.

Courteous, and endowed with a kindliness and geniality of manner, Sir Bryan was an attractive personality. To him was given the outlook of the disinterested enthusiasm of the old time sportsman, which will make his demise one of very wide regret.’

In his will, General Mahon left his terrier Boozey to J.J. Maher’s wife Mary Elizabeth (née Bayley).

[70] James Conway was born in Naas, Kildare on 25 November 1881 to James Conway, snr., and Bridget/Brigid Flanagan. He was the older brother of Michael N Conway and was an extensive landowner and well-known horse breeder. During the 1941 outbreak of foot and mouth disease about 130 animals had to be slaughtered on his farm. James died on 1 August, 1962. He was unmarried. He was a founding member, director of Naas Race Company and Secretary/Manager of Naas Race Company at its inaugural meeting and second meeting on 2 September, 1924.

[71] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 6 October 1923.

[72] Mr Gleeson, who had an address at of Ashbourne Avenue, Limerick, worked under R McK Waters, who was originally feted to build the course but died in June 1922. When the Naas Race Company failed to pay Mr Gleeson his full fee, it ended up in court where the company claimed he didn’t deserve the full payment. There was no contract. Mr Gleeson claimed he visited every Sunday and two or three times a week besides; Naas said it was more like once a week and that he only ever stayed two hours. The judge awarded Mr Gleeson £72 plus costs. Limerick Contractor v Naas Race Co Ltd, Irish Times, 1 Feb 1927.

[73] By early December 1923, the works were ‘proceeding at a great pace’. Kildare Observer, Saturday, 8 December 1923. The Sport’s report appeared on 5 January 1924.

[74] Sport (Dublin), Saturday, 5th January 1924.

[75] Irish Independent, Thursday, 28th February 1924. The Newcomen Iron Works was on the corner of Sheriff Street and Abercorn Road.

[76] Irish Independent, Saturday, 14th June 1924.

[77] Kildare Observer, Saturday, 2nd February, 1924. The fastest man on the day was Lieutenant Sean O’Connor, H.Q. Co., ‘the well-known Clonliffe Harrier.’

[78] Kildare Observer & Eastern Counties Advertiser, 2 February 1924, p. 8; 9 February 1924.

[79] Drogheda Independent, Saturday, 10th May 1924.

[80] Drogheda Independent, Saturday, 7th June 1924.

[81] Irish Independent, Saturday, 14th June 1924.

[82] Freeman’s Journal, Saturday, 14th June 1924.

[83] Change of means of transport re Naas Races, Kildare Observer, 16 Jun 1928.

[84] Kildare Oberserver, Saturday, 10th May 1924.

[85] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 6 September 1924, p. 7.

[86] 199 entries were received, of which there were 74 runners. Kildare Observer, Saturday, 17th May 1924; Sport, 21 June 1924, p. 1, includes a blurry photograph of ‘Mr. E. Kennedy presenting J. Dines, who rode two winners for him, with two whips. The winners were the outsiders, Wardley Dell and Seize. (Photo, Cashman).’ The Leinster Leader reported on 17 May, 1924, that a Silver Cup would be presented to the Trainers of the first Hurdle Race, Steeplechase and Flat Race and a Gold-mounted Whip to the winning jockey of each race.

[87] The first running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a steeplechase took place on 12 March 1924.

[88] Sport (Dublin), Saturday, 21st June 1924. Bolshevist romped home to win the Steward’s Plate.

[89] His son, also Joseph Cashman, estimated there were 100 race-horse photographs still in his possession. The older Joseph was working with Freemans Journal during the war. I have enquired with Lar Joye re: Cashman pics. See also: Cashman Collection.

[90] ‘His job was to bang metal buckets to ensure that the horse’s ears stood to attention, at the right angle so you could see both ears in the photograph,’ recounts Michèle Cashman, Griff’s daughter.

[91] James Conway junior was added as a steward by the second meeting.

[92] https://sites.google.com/view/jockeys-m/jack-moloney?authuser=0

[93] Arthur Blennerhassett was born on 26 June 1856 to Charles John Allanson Winn Blennerhassett and Mary Anne Hickson. He was 26 years old when he married Clara Nesta Richarda FitzGerald in 1882. She was known as Nesta. Their daughters were Hilda, (Nesta) Georgie and Vera. Georgie married Lieut. Colonel Verelst Turner Worship, D.S.O. Major Blennerhassett died in Ballyseedy Castle on 3 May 1939; his interment took place in the family vault there. For more, see here.

[94] William Patrick Joseph Murphy’s parents were William Murphy and Mary Anne Lacey. In 1911, he married Annie Josephine Houlihan, daughter of John Joseph Houlihan and Johanna Madden of Roscrea. Annie’s sister, Kathleen Mary, had married Hon. Veterinary Surgeon W.T.M. Browne in 1908. William and Annie had 3 children. William’s collegiate career, first at Clongowes Wood, and subsequently at Trinity College, Dublin, whence he graduated, was marked by the highest academic distinctions. He was beloved by all sections of the community. In dealing with the poor he stripped his duties of every outward semblance of officialdom, and the poor regarded his as their best friend. He was the “people’s” doctor, ‘ ever ready to assist in any emergency, and many a destitute home owes a debt of eternal gratitude to his memory. His was of a gentle disposition, and his unassuming manner was a noted characteristic of his arduous professional career. In private life, William, was of a retiring nature. Outside his official duties he seldom, if ever, appeared in the public eye, except to press forward some local reform or sanitary measure in the interest of the town of Naas. Amongst his colleagues he was held in the highest esteem. During an active and well-spent career, he upheld the best traditions of a noble profession. He gained the respect of intelligent men, and the love of little children. To the people whom he served, he gave of the best within him. He filled the niche and accomplished his task. William died at his home in Poplar Square, Naas, on 18 June 1928, and he left behind that most enduring of all monuments, the precious heritage of a good name.

[95] Born in Limerick City on 23 October, 1873, William Thomas M Browne was a son of James Henry Browne and Julia McKenna.

[96] In 1918, William was at death’s door with double pneumonia and a dangerous complication. Blessed John Sullivan came and prayed over the unconscious invalid who very soon regained consciousness and made a complete recovery. Blessed John slipped away before anyone could observe him, and walked back eight miles to Clongowes, though it was raining heavily. “On the night of February 19th, 1933, Fr John Sullivan, SJ, breathed his last in St Vincent’s Nursing Home, Dublin. Thirty-seven years earlier he had converted to Catholicism, and four years later he entered the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits). Much of his priestly life was spent in Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare, where he had a reputation for sanctity among the schoolboys and the many local people he came in contact with. In 1960 he was declared a Servant of God. He was declared ‘Venerable’ by Pope Francis in November 2014. In April 2016 Pope Francis approved a decree that authenticated a miracle attributed to Fr Sullivan, thereby approving his beatification. Cardinal Angelo Amato, representing Pope Francis, declared Fr John Sullivan Blessed at a beatification ceremony on Saturday 13 May 2017 in St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Gardiner Street, Dublin.”

[97] William died on 4 February, 1942, at his residence, Abbeyfield, Naas. He was without issue. See his holy card here.

[98] Henry Vincent aka Harry V Linehan was born in Carrigaloe, Queenstown (now Cobh) on 19 July, 1878, to Matthew Francis Linehan, auctioneer, and Mary Anne Blake. He was an outstanding personality in Irish sporting journalism and was intimately associated with racing, rugby and lawn tennis for at least forty years, and as Racing Correspondent for the “Irish Times”, was extremely well-known in all parts of Ireland. He was a recognised authority on turf matters and in 1922 he was appointed as assistant handicapper by the Stewards of the Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. Although a newcomer to the position, for a great many years he had been well-known in racing circles, and had a unique opportunity of studying it. His appointment was hailed with great satisfaction by owners, trainers, and also by the general public. In his athletic days he played Ruby for Wanderers and Lawn Tennis at Mount Temple, of which club he had the distinction of being President.

He married Kathleen Honor Foy, daughter of Peter Bertram Foy from Co. Clare, Lecturer in Chemistry at Kevin Street, Dublin, and Mary Mathers. Henry and Kathleen had 4 children. He died suddenly in Dublin on 24 April, 1943.

[99] Richard Welstead Croker (1843 – 1922), known as “Boss Croker,” was an Irish American political boss who was a leader of New York City’s Tammany Hall. His control over the city was cemented with the 1897 election of Robert A. Van Wyck as the first Mayor of all five boroughs. As his power waned following the 1900 and 1901 elections, Croker resigned his position and returned to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his life.

[100] Margaret was eldest daughter of Mr. John Harty, formerly actuary at the Waterford Savings Bank, who resided at Newtown, and brother of Joseph Harty, formerly a well-known jockey.” They had sixteen children, a number of whom died in infancy, while at least two of his sons settled in Australia. John Harty was related to the jockey John Harty, if not the same person. Guy Williams married to Anne Harty and is the authority on the Harty family. He has written about the Harty family on numerous occasions and trained an Irish Grand National winner ridden by another John Harty.

[101] Born in New Ross, Co. Wexford, on 16 Dec, 1875, to Thomas Fleming and Mary Purcell. It seems he was intended for a commercial career as he served his apprenticeship to the drapery trade in the glove department of Messrs. Robertson, Ledlie, Ferguson and Co., Waterford. Shortly after the completion of his training he forsook the career and opened a turf commission office at Conduit Lane, Waterford, that was later conducted by his brother, James, while Thomas went into the business of racehorse training, having several successful animals under his charge, notably the Brighton Stakes winner Charivari which was owned by Duke of Portland then Mr. W. P. Murphy and then by Thomas himself in 1905. He was the owner of many horses, meeting with considerable success under National Hunt Rules in both Ireland and England. In 1903 he married Mary Margaret Harty, eldest daughter of Mr. John Harty, formerly actuary at the Waterford Savings Bank, who resided at Newtown, and brother of Joseph Harty, formerly a well-known jockey. Thomas and Mary reportedly had 16 children, some sadly died in childhood/infancy, of whom a son, Thomas Anthony “Tom” followed in his father’s footsteps.

In 1920, following the death of Martin J. Murphy, M.P. who had acquired the lease of the Tramore Racecourse in 1890, Thomas and Senator J.J. Parkinson took over the administration of it from him.

Thomas was reportedly a most genial companion on and off the racecourse and an excellent official but above all, he was a staunch friend and ever ready to do a good turn. He had a long experience of the Turf, and “The Baron” was a well-known figure at the English meetings. Where so many others had failed, his sound judgement of form enabled him to succeed in making race-going a paying proposition. His advice was wisely sought and accepted on matters pertaining to the purchase of bloodstock. The late *“Boss Croker” owed much of his success to Mr. Fleming’s suggestions regarding breeding, and they were close personal friends.

But it was as a racing official that Thomas rose to the position of eminence which he had reached at the time of his death on 22 June, 1935, in a private nursing home in Dublin.

The Herald of Australia reported on his death as follows on 12 August 1935, p. 2:

“Baron” Fleming’s Death” By “Orleigh”
ADVICE has been received in Melbourne of the death in Dublin of Mr T. J. Fleming, a leading racing official in Ireland and known to legions of racing people in different parts of the world as the Baron. During the last five years he twice visited Melbourne to see two of his sons who are farming in Gippsland. He made many friends in Melbourne and Sydney. He had a long and varied career on the turf in England and Ireland, and at one time was a close friend of “Boss” Croker, who won the English Derby with Orby in 1907. Mr Fleming owned Ballymacoll Stud in [Dunboyne, County Meath, formerly Sobell and Weinstock] Ireland, purchasing it from Lord Inchcape, who at the time was Lord Glenanpp. Later he sold the property to Mr R. S. Croker, a son of the famous Tammany chief. Mr Fleming was clerk of the course (it is equivalent of secretary in Australia) at many racecourses in Ireland, and was a personal friend of James Scobie’s son Norman, a successful trainer in England. [James Scobie (1860-1940), Australia-based horse-trainer.]

[102] James Knowlson, ‘Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett’ (Bloomsbury, 1997), here.

[103] F. H. Clarke was born in Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire, England, in 1873, to Frederick Clarke and Annie Elizabeth Ablitt. He married Harriet Ellen Pigott in England in 1901 and following the birth of their only child, Harold Frederick Frank aka Fred/Frederick, in 1903, they moved to Ireland. Prior to leaving, Fred had qualified at Messrs. Pratts in London (a well-respected racecourse management company who in 1895 succeeded in securing a fourteen-year lease on Alexandra Park Racecourse. Their management remained in place until the course closed in 1970) and he had also been the assistant clerk of the course at Sandown Park Race Club.

In 1904, he was granted a license by the Stewards of the Irish Turf Club and Irish National Hunt Committee to act as Clerk of the Course and Receiver of Entries for Leopardstown Club Meetings and following the close of his first season as CC there it was reported that he gave “the greatest possible satisfaction”.

Fred was also an auctioneer and in July 1921 his son took over from him at Phoenix Park as F. Harold had just taken up his duties as Keeper of the Match Book from Mr. C. Brindley. He took a special interest in trotting and his well-known performer, Victoria Queen, was many times a winner at Cork and Ballsbridge. F Harold Clarke died at his residence, Leopardstown House, Foxrock, on 10 July, 1947. He was survived by his son, Frederick, a well-known veterinary surgeon and Irish racing official.

[104] John Patrick “Jack” Hartigan was born in Limerick in November 1875 to Thomas Maher (Boher House, Bruff) and Elizabeth Roche. He came from one of the oldest families in Limerick, a family which for generations has been identified with racing and hunting. He was a first cousin of Mr. Martin Hartigan, who had been a well-known trainer in England as well as to Sir James Andrew Hartigan, Dun Laoghaire. He was appointed an official of the Irish Turf Club circa 1909.

Under his management the Limerick Junction meeting was successfully revived by the creation of the old-time Barronstown, Tipperary, atmosphere – free admission to the course, side-shows, games and numerous other attractions – when race day was regarded as the day of days by the masses of rural folk.

He was one of the most conscientious and capable of officials and was also a successful auctioneer, building up an extensive business in the sale of horses and cattle. Possessed of an intimate knowledge of racing and the wide personnel associated with it, he was known all over Ireland and England. He was at all times courteous and helpful and he was deservedly popular.

He married Ellen Mary Anastasia “Nellie” Lyons, daughter of William Henry Lyons of Cork and Croom Castle, in 1907. They had 3 children. J. P. Hartigan died in Dublin on 15 August, 1939.

[105] John Fitzgerald Tuthill was born in Newabbey, Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, on 13 June 1856, to William Tuthill and Alicia Gabbett. The Tuthill family had a long association with Moyglare House, Maynooth. Captain Tuthill married Ann Elizabeth “Lillie” Forster, daughter of William Forster of Shrewbridge Hall, Cheshire, in 1880. They had 5 children, of whom a son, Frank Fitzgerald Tuthill, also became an efficient judge. Captain Tuthill died at his residence, Moyglare, Maynooth, on 15 April, 1932.

[106] Comments on Captain Tuthill from Maria O’Brien, to which may be added: ‘The strains imposed on a racing judge at that time were not generally appreciated. When a desperate finish was being disputed, inch by inch, and when a racing throng is reduced to a state bordering on mob excitement, judges must remain in unruffled calm, disinterested yet keenly interested in an effort to decide for success or defeat by what may have been the narrowest of margin. Captain Tuthill was imbued with all the caution and impartiality of the judicial mind, and a severity of temperament that made him the ideal of racing officials. An exceptionally sound judge of a horse, the benefit of his knowledge had for many years been bestowed upon the Moyglare Stud and he managed it with conspicuous success. He disliked being photographed, but his refusal to Pressmen was always conducted in courteous terms.’

[107] William James Honner was born in Greyfort, Clonmel, Tipperary, (although his obituary records it was Grayfort, Co. Waterford) on 26 April, 1958, to John Honner, Esq., solicitor, and Jane Caroline Minchin. He was educated at the Royal Academy, Gosport and Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. In 1890 he married Ethel May, daughter of William Cliff of Liverpool. They had 2 children. He was High Sheriff of Co. Kildare; Vice-President of War Pensions Committee, Co. Kildare; Member of Advisory Committee, War Pensions, Ireland; President of Durfold British Legion; served in Afghan war 1879-79; Third Anglo-Burmese War, 1885-87; Black Mountain Expedition, 1889; Midland Expedition, 1890; North-West Campaign, Punjab, 1897-98; Remount 2nd in Command, Curragh, August, 1914, later Command 2/1 North Midland Brigade, R.F. A. (T.) and was twice mentioned in despatches. Hr played rugby for R.A. Gosport and cricket for R.M.A. He was a member of the Irish Turf, both on the flat and under N.H. rules. Most of his horses were trained at his former residence, Ardenode, Brannockstown, Co. Kildare. Amongst his best horses were Fallochy and Eirin’s Falloch (winners of many King’s Plates and many races at Naas). He designed and made available free of charge to all Irish owners and trainers his famous bank steeplechase course at Ardenode, over which so many of his great ‘chasers for 50 years had their initial training. He died at his residence, Millmead House, Bramley, Surrey, England, on 9 December, 1947.

[108] Between 31 December 1918 and 2 March 1920, almost 900 Surplus Horses from the Curragh Remount Depot including draught/draft, harness and saddle horses, as well as strong cobs, driving horses and some mares with foals at foot, were put up for auction. Robert J. Goff and Co had charge of most of the auctions. In 2023, Dick Brabazon advised that the remounts at the Curragh were based where the public car park is today. “Not many of us left now who refer to that area as the remounts!” He adds: “I don’t think there was any loose stabling but hundreds of standing stalls. The location was ideal as it was beside the railway siding. There’s an old Pathe news film of British Army loading up horses, artillery etc. in 1922 from the siding and, of course, the old railway building is still in use (old TRI building). Gay has a story of some local man who reputedly treated returning horses for shell shock although I think few horses returned.”

[109] ‘Colonel Honner’s nice residence and farm at Ardenode, Brannockstown, has been told through Messrs. Goff and Co., Ltd., auctioneers, Newbridge, to Dr. Geraghty, Carnew, Co. Wicklow. The farm contains 340 statute acres.’ Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 27 August 1927

[110] James Joseph Maher was born in County Meath in April 1862 to Mr and Mrs. William Maher. As a young man he was a follower of the Ward Union Hounds, and made his mark as a horseman by winning many Hunt Cup races. He grew up with horses and it is reported that he eventually served as manager on his father’s farms. He became an owner and trainer of steeplechasers and following the 1889 death of his brother-in-law, renowned Irish owner, trainer and rider, Leonard Sheil of Greenmount (who married Helen Maher), he took over the care of Leonard’s horses owned by Lord Cadogan, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

In December 1903, trainer Mr. G Lushington, on behalf of King Edward VII, purchased the three-year-old gelding Hackbutt by Hackler out of Circe from Mr. Maher, the price being over 2,000 guineas. The name was later changed to Flaxman. Success again visited Mr. Maher when he took up the breeding of valuable thoroughbreds at his Confey Stud, Leixlip, Kildare, which he founded circa 1905.

He bred Ballymacad, winner of the 1917 “War National” steeplechase held at Gatwick as an alternative for the Grand National at Aintree as it had been taken over by the British War Office during WW1. The prospect of seeing most of the best jumpers opposing each other over a distance of four miles aroused the keenest interest, especially as many lovers of racing in the Metropolitan district could not afford the time or the expense at that difficult time to make the long journey to Aintree, where the big event of the year took place in normal times. And still does to this day. Under the circumstances, it was not surprising to have found the company much larger than it had been for quite some time.

Royal Ransom, one of the best ‘chasers to wear his colours, was sold to the millionaire, Mr. J. H. Whitney.

Mr. Maher’s yearlings regularly realised the biggest prices at the Doncaster sales. Between 1918 and 1928, inclusive, he sold fifty yearlings at these sales for an aggregate of £135,000 (purchasing power in 2022 of almost €10m). Many turned out to be good winners.

Amongst many notable winners bred at his Confey Stud may be mentioned St. Louis (2,000 Guineas, 1922), Roidore, Caligula (St. Leger, 1920), Oojah, sold for 13,400 guineas as a three-year-old; Manna (Derby Winner), Caligula, Royal Minstrel, Sandwich, and Parwiz. The Aga Khan 6,400 guineas for Hairan at the Doncaster Sales in 1933.

Mr. Maher was a Senior Steward, I.N.H.S. Committee, and Chairman of the Conyngham Club (the Tattersalls of Ireland). He was a member of the Rules Committee and a Trustee of the Turf Club. He had a large controlling interest in the Baldoyle Race. Co. He was a notable figure in the Horse Show jumping enclosure, where he gave practical help in the competitions.

Mr. Maher died at sea, off Gibraltar, on 24 March, 1935. He and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Bayley, went on a cruise to Rangoon, India, in January of that year, and was on the return journey. News of his death was received by Capt. M. King-French, Clonsilla.

[111] This steeplechase was held at Gatwick as an alternative to the Grand National at Aintree. In 1928, Joe Canty rode his horse Regained to victory in the Kilcullen Plate at Naas. When General Mahon died in 1930, he left his terrier Boozey to J.J.’s wife Mary Elizabeth (née Bayley). JJ died at sea, off Gibraltar, in 1935.

[112] In c. 1918, Frederick St. John Blacker took part in a celebrated “three-handed” match (owners up) at the Curragh, between Sari Bahr (then Captain Shirley), St. Cole (Mr. Kennedy) and his own horse, The Regiment – Sari Bahr emerged victorious.

[113] Mrs Blacker’s picture appeared in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of 1 April 1922, p. 15, with the caption: MUSIC HALL’S BREEDER – MRS. BLACKER, WITH MOLLY AND MOVIE. Music Hall, the Grand National winner, was bred by Mrs. Sheela Blacker of Castle Martin, County Kildare. Mrs. Blacker broke him in herself and hunted him with the Kildare Hounds during the season 1918-19. Our picture shows Movie, the sister of Music Hall, and Molly, his dam, with Mrs. Blacker at Castle Martin.’

[114] Sheila / Sheela Maude Pollock who was the daughter of John Pollock and Florence Madeline Bingham and granddaughter of John George Barry Bingham, 5th Baron Clanmorris, and his wife Matilda Catherine Maude Ward of Bangor Castle, Co. Down. Frederick and Sheila/Sheela had 2 sons, Percy Valentine William Blacker and Ian Frederick Edward Blacker. Frederick died at his residence, Castlemartin, on 29 March, 1942.

[115] Ian Blacker, 2nd Battalion, The Tower Hamlets Rifles, died on 22 June 1944 and is buried in the Assisi War Cemetery in C9, Plot No. 7. (Marcus Rueff was in the same battalion, but was killed in Libya in 1941.) ‘After the war Mrs Blacker went to Italy to bring his body home to be buried in the family plot in Yellow Bog cemetery. On seeing where he was buried … she changed her mind and said “Let him lie with his 945 allied comrades who are laid to rest there.” https://www.kildare.ie/ehistory/index.php/times-past/

Dame Joan was invited by the Dublin Operatic Society to sing two Paminas in The Magic Flute and two Mimis in La Bohème in April 1940, at which time she became friends with Ian Blacker. According to her biography by Sara Hardy, ‘Dame Joan Hammond: Love and Music’ (Allen & Unwin, 2008), p. 97-98:

‘There was something about the Irish Joan really liked, and there was one Irishman in particular who may even have won her heart—or as much of her heart as she was able to give. The man in question was Ian Blacker. Joan met him because he was the nephew of Lady Gowrie (herself Irish). The Blacker family lived at Castle Martin in the Curragh, west of Dublin, and they invited her to stay for a few days. Ian Blacker picked her up after her final performance and they set off in his car. It wasn’t a great distance to Castle Martin but the journey was full of incident. Ian’s car was as eccentric as its owner and all kinds of mechanical faults and bizarre solutions delayed their arrival. She could have become annoyed but once again she saw the funny side. The Blacker family had been at Castle Martin since 1730. The area had once been the scene of battle but now the land was given over to horse breeding. The countryside was beautiful and Ian took her to as many places of interest as possible during her 4-day stay—eccentric car and all. They kept in touch thereafter and saw each other again. Joan had a great many friends, and the connection with Ian wouldn’t have been especially noticeable except that she went out of her way to mention him in her autobiography. She chose her words very carefully (as always) by saying: ‘Friendship with Ian grew into a very happy relationship’. It’s a significant comment because it’s the only time she mentions a relationship of any kind in the whole book. Friends aplenty, relationships never. ‘Relationship’ is open to myriad interpretations, but some kind of attachment is implied. It would have been a fairytale partnership given the Lady Gowrie connection. Joan had tunnel vision as far as her career was concerned, but she wasn’t immune to ‘relationships’. The war intensified everyone’s emotions; love, honour, romance, sex; people were living in a heightened state, they took more risks. Ian Blacker became a Captain with the Rifle Brigade and went to the Middle East in 1942, visiting Joan in London before he went.’

[116] James Durney, ‘Cinders for a good girl? A traumatic event my mother never forgot’ The Irish Times, 15 Mar 2019, here. A copy this photo hangs in Fletchers Pub, North Main Street, Naas.) See also ‘The Gaul’s of Rathasker Road, Naas’ by James Durney, here. James says: ‘Ned was also pictured in the crowd when Harry Beasley won the Maiden Pate at Punchestown in April 1923. Ned had greyhounds and had some good winners according to his obituary.’

[117] Born on 31 October 1896, he was a son of James Conway Snr and Bridget/Brigid Flanagan.

[118] Michael was a well-known amateur jockey in the 1920s and 30s when he owned and rode a number of race horses, such as Gold Call, Ludo, Sealangor, Silvermore and Keredern. He was President of Co. Kildare Golf Club for twenty yearsm vice-captain of Kildare Rugby Football club, member of the Kildare Hounds and Naas Harriers, and also a Trustee of the Naas G.F.C.

[119] In 1909, Myles Peter Lawlor married Bridget Mary Keeley; they would own the famous Lawlor’s Hotel in Naas.

[120] Sport (Dublin), Saturday, 21st June 1924.

[121] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 5 July 1924, p. 3. I think this was the occasion of a football match in which Kildare were beaten by a team from Políní Átha Cliath (Police of Dublin), formerly the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Políní Átha Cliath, merging with An Garda Síochána under the Police Forces. (Amalgamation) Act of 1925. Father M. Norris was patron of the County Feis. The football match was probably played on a field known as Spooner’s Lane.

[122] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 6 September 1924, p. 7. ‘The putting back of the cheaper enclosure was an excellent move, and when the People’s Park is done likewise, the view of the last fence and that portion of the track will be perfect.’

[123] Fifty-three runners lined out for the six events on 14 October 1924.

[124] ‘Favoured with beautiful summerlike weather, in fact, so warm that it is stated to have been the hottest day for three years, the third meeting of Naas races was brought to a very successful conclusion, before a large attendance, Tuesday, over the well-situated and convenient course at Tipper. The racing was of the best order, and the fact that there were 53 runners for the six events, speaks highly of the popularity of the new venture with owners and trainers. It was a day double events, Coombs and Dawson amongst the trainers and Joe Canty and Lenehan amongst the jockeys, while if Mr. E. Kennedy failed to keep up his record for the track, he scored a double second with his two representatives, Wardley Dell and Spanish Match … the arrangements were perfect, the traffic well looked after by the Civic Guard, and the catering of Mrs. Lawlor, Nas-na-Riogh Hotel, was excellent. (Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 18 October 1924)

[125] ‘It would be hard to imagine a worse day, from weather stand-point, than that of Saturday, when the new Race Company of Naas held their fourth meeting of the season. But the new Company should not grumble, as they were extremely lucky in their three previous days in very bad year. Despite this drawback, and the fact that Ireland was playing its International Rugby football match against New Zealand in Dublin, and that there were some important coursing meetings taking place on the same day, they had a very fine attendance, although, we imagine, not so large as the October fixture. The racing was of the best description, and with forty- runners for the six events they should also be satisfied, as they were faring twice as well as other meetings at the present time. The Naas Plate was worth going a long way to see, and it resulted in a popular victory for local young sportsman with locally bred animal … It only remains to state that everything was well carried out, including the catering by Mrs. Lawlor of Nas-na-Riogh Hotel.’ Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 8 November 1924

‘It was a thousand pities that the rain spoiled the meeting held at Naas last Saturday, and the lot of those that attended was the reverse of pleasant. The fact that the Rugby International was played on the same date did not do the fixture any good either, but despite all those drawbacks there was a very good all-round attendance, and the racing was quite the best held over the course. Backers had nothing to grumble at, seeing that several favourites were capable of winning, and the fielders would, no doubt, welcome the victory of Maureen M., as it helped to stem the pressure a bit. She was practically friendless in a brisk market, but she showed rare determination in securing the spoils in the hands of Peter Coyne, a well conducted rider, who, before he came to Perry’s stable, was with Captain Hogg at Russley, where I understand he was trial jockey for that important stable. It was hard lines’ on Perry’s part that he did not bring off a double event during the afternoon. as for a long way it seemed possible that Knocklong Boy would “get there,” but he seems rather an unlucky sort of customer.’

Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 08 November 1924

[126] The course was on the Woodland Farms at Red Bank owned by an old Princeton chap by name of Knives Haskell. See: ‘BALDING SCORES TRIPLE Rides Parkaneska, Waverly Star and Chatsworth to Victory at Middletown (N.J.) Event,’ The New York Times, 19 Oct. 19, 1930 here.

[127] Ballinode was to compete for the Naas Plate on 1 November 1924 but withdrew. She went on to win the second ever running of the Gold Cup. See here.

[128] They won seven senior championships, and five Leinster Leader Cups between 1920 and 1932. They also formed the nucleus of the great Kildare team that won six Leinster Championships and two All-Ireland’s (1927, 1928) between 1926 and 1931.

[129] ‘Visitors to the first meeting of the year on Saturday, March 7th, to the new course at Naas will see a number of improvements and alterations that only experience could suggest. Successful as was their opening year, the Company, under the guidance of their new Secretary and Manager, Mr. Conway, V.S., were not content rest on their oars, and during the dreary winter months several loose boxes were added, and now they can stable fifty horses in the most comfortable quarters. Really what matters most to owners, trainers and jockeys is the alteration made in the course that has obliterated for ever the two bad turns on the far side the course and raised the track by about 5ft, or 6ft., which ensures grand firm going and vastly improves the view from the enclosures. One wonders why it was not done at the commencement and thus save considerable expense, but yet it shows that the Company is going to leave no stone unturned to make their track rank amongst the best Ireland. The distance gained by the alteration will not be quite one hundred yards, but they are invaluable ones. The straight six furlongs has knit together splendidly, and will be found ideal galloping in the future. Several well-known jockeys inspected the course recently, and expressed their great approval it. The entries for March number 107.’ Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 21 February 1925.

[130] ‘The Naas Race Company were certainly in bad luck on Saturday evening last, for the weather vouchsafed was the was the worst experienced for some weeks previously, and, indeed, since it was blowing a hurricane of cold wind, with showers, and then broke down badly nearing the close of the evening’s programme. The attendance was good, but, no doubt, the conditions caused many to stop away. An excellent card was provided, and with sixty-five runners for six races we had exciting sport.’ Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser – Saturday 11 April 1925, p. 7.

[131] Sport, 11 April 1925.

[132] Sport, 11 April 1925.

[133] Sport (Dublin), 6 June 1925, p. 9. He was to be ridden by under JHC Bartholomew. By the time of the 1927 race, he was owned by Frank Barbour.

[134] ‘In the chief ring the bookmakers to a man adopted the principle of making certified returns, which meant that their bets were made in the ordinary way, with the exception that when they paid out ready money winnings to their clients they deducted 2½ per cent, from the total disbursement. Similarly, with their credit clients they will deduct 2½ per cent. on settling day and furnish their returns to the Inland Revenue Department. In the cheaper enclosure the majority of the players adopted the same plan, while some purchased the stamped sheets which were for sale at the Inland Revenue office erected between the two enclosures. The first day’s transactions under the operation of the Act worked off smoothly; few complaints were heard, and it is not likely that the introduction of the tax will have any noticeable effect on racecourse betting for a considerable time, as between now and next March there are only ten days’ racing.’

‘It was a thousand pities that the last meeting of the season at this now very popular course should have been interfered with to such an extent by the weather. Cold, blustery winds and rain caused a small attendance, and made matters very unpleasant, but, as usual, the racing was of an excellent standard, and no fewer than seventy-five horses were engaged during the afternoon. The rather heavy going was probably responsible for the many surprising results—two of the winners were returned at 20 to 1, another at 100 to 8, while the only actual favourite to score was Don Sancho, the winner of the three miles steeplechase.’ Don Sancho won the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in 1928.

[135] Michael McCormac, ‘The Irish Racing and Bloodstock Industry – An Economic Analysis’ (1978), via Jed Kelly. The act was only supposed to last two years, while the situation was assessed, and would be modified by the Betting Act of 1931. Meanwhile, an inter-departmental government committee assessed a general decline in racing, which it blamed on a combination of factors – the general economic downturn alternative leisure time pursuits, the high cost of admissions, too many race days (especially in Dublin), a low standard of racing and the entertainment tax. To remedy the situation, a committee recommended abolishing the entertainment tax and putting the Turf Club and the INHSC in joint control of a tote. The 1926 Act also set out the machinery for the establishment of a totalisator, either by the Revenue Commissioners or by another body under license from the Revenue Commissioners. This ultimately led to the Totalisator Act of 1929.

[136] ‘Irish Racing Trouble,’ Daily Telegraph (London), Sun 3 Jan 1927.

[137] Díosbóireachtaí Párlaiminte: Tuairisc Oifigiúil, Volume 22 (Ireland: Oireachtas, Dáil, 1928), p. 2001.

In Dáil Éireann on Thursday afternoon on 29 March, Kildare representative Mr. Hugh Colohon, Teachta Dála (TD) (Labour), asked the Minister for Finance, * Ernest Blythe (SF) whether he was aware that prior to the passing of the Betting Act, 1926

  1. (a) Each of the eight meetings of the Naas Race Company, Ltd, had been a financial success;
  2. (b) That since the passing of the Act each of the nine meetings held showed a substantial loss;
  3. (c) That the company had given over £5,000 (€400k) in stakes each year since its formation;
  4. (d) ThattheGovernmenthadreceivedover£3,000(€240k)inentertainmentandothertaxes;
  5. (e) That the company had paid over £1,000 (€80k) per annum in wages, and that as a result of

excessive taxation the company had been unable to carry on, and had discharged all its employees, the racecourse having been at that time in the charge of a caretaker.

Mr. Colohon then asked whether the Minister intended to abolish or reduce taxation in respect of race companies to enable them to recoup losses.

Mr. Diarmuid Lynch aka Jeremiah Christopher Lynch TD (SF), a Cork native and representative of Cork South East, said that the figures quoted were substantially correct, and that a statement on Irish racing generally would be made at the earliest possible date.

* Ernest Blythe was an Irish journalist, managing director of the Abbey Theatre, and politician who served as Minister for Finance from 1923 to 1932, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Vice-President of the Executive Council from 1927 to 1932 and Minister for Local Government from 1922 to 1923. He was a Senator for the Labour Panel from 1934 to 1936. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Monaghan constituency from 1921 to 1933 and Member of Parliament (MP) for Monaghan North from 1918 to 1922.

[138] Roscommon Herald – Saturday 31 March 1928, p. 1. ‘Unable to carry on, had discharged all its employees, the racecourse having been at that time in the charge of a caretaker.’

[139] ‘Her only victory was in a little race at Naas.’ Sport (Dublin), 8 December 1928, p. 2.

On Saturday 1928, 29 September, Mr. T. P. Tyrell’s good chaser Mind Me, regrettably broke his back as the result of an injury during the Naas steeplechase.

The October meeting in 1928 was reportedly the most successful of the season. There had been splendid fields for all the races, which were wonderfully thrilling. There was some surprise by the absence of lists boards in the big ring. It seems the decision to bet without them had been arrived at by the bookmakers themselves, following a vote. Jockey Tommy Cullinan (see 1930) came over from England to ride Duke of Florence in the Stayers’ ‘Chase. He broke away from his opponents after the first circuit, and they apparently never saw him again until the end.

[140] ‘The late Mr. Berney contracted a chill some months ago which later developed into pneumonia to which, despite all that medical skill could do, he succumbed on Sunday, 6th, inst., at the early age of 29 years, fortified by all the rites of Holy Church.’ Leinster Leader 12 March 1927.

[141] Sport (Dublin) – Saturday 02 April 1927, p. 8.

[142] Lady Wigell then sold the horse to Hubert Hartigan who brought him to Liverpool. The 800 guinea price paid by Solly Joel is given in Country Life, Volume 69, 1931, p. LXV.

Solly’s brother had 2 Epsom Derby winners, Sunstar (1911) and Humorist (1921).

[143] ‘It has been remarked here before how lucky Mr. Joel has been with Irish bred horses which he has bought. Fleeting Memory was a remarkable purchase out of a Selling race at Liverpool two ago for 200 [?] guineas. When Mr. Roddy More O’Ferrell (who now trains Count McCormack’s horses) was starting he bought Fleeting Memory as a yearling for Lady Weigall, a daughter of the late Sir Blundell Maple. The colt won his first race as a two-year-old at Naas and later he was sold to Mr. Hubert Hartigan, who exploited him in a Selling successfully at Liverpool where W. Earl bought him for Mr. Joel.’ Daily News (London), 31 July 1929, p. 12.

The racecourse is set in the beautiful park of Goodwood House, Sussex, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Richmond.

[144] Knight of the Grail, winner of the Irish Derby on 22 June 1927 and the Liverpool Summer Cup in 1929, was owned for a time by Andrew Young of Naas but ended up being the subject of a legal dispute by which Sir Devles Broughton was ordered to pay Young £600 in 1929. See here. His victory at the Curragh was filmed: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/22UWOFVXDlg” title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen></iframe>

[145] Marconi had actually broadcast the 1921 Epsom Derby but the print media put pressure on to keep racing off the radio. The media backed down when the BBC was transformed into a Royal Charter in 1927, giving it the ability to cover live sports.

[146] Sir John’s will of 1898, here, says Maxwell Arnott was his third son, but YouWho.ie seems to have him listed as the youngest son here, aka Lieutenant Cecil John Maxwell Arnott born 4 August 1882 at Woodlands, served in 3rd Battalion, Leinster Regiment. He managed Greenmount, Clonsilla, Co. Dublin, after its owner Captain Robert Henry Dewhurst (1862-1936) relocated to England in 1902. His stables were attacked in January 1914, during the latter stages of the Strike and Lock-Out, when he lost a prize horse, Lord Dudley’s Swallow Hawk, to the fire. Among owners to have horses in training with Arnott was Sir William Goulding, a noted bloodstock owner and chairman of the fertilizer and phosphates firm, W. & H. M. Goulding. Cecil died unmarried on 31 August 1954 aged 72 years at the Cottage, Clonsilla.

[147] Kildare Observer and Eastern Counties Advertiser, 6 April 1929, p. 7.

[148] Sport (Dublin) – Saturday 14 September 1929, p. 6. Prudent Pat, winner of the Galway Plate, won the Autumn Hurdle at Naas for Joe Dawson in 1928.

[149] Sport (Dublin) – Saturday 02 November 1929, p. 6.

[150] There was a big attendance of shareholders of the sixth annual meeting of the Naas Race Company Ltd., held on Friday, 12 July 1929, at which Thomas Whelan, managing director, congratulated the shareholders on last year’s working, which showed a gross profit of £62 19/6 (€5k) as against a huge loss the prior year. It was hoped that with the advent of the *Totalisator that general improvement in racing would occur and that the company would continue to make an increase on the following year’s working.

*An indicator that would tell the public continuously exactly what the odds were against any horse was invented by Sir George Alfred Julius, an English-born Australian inventor and entrepreneur. The only guide the public had up until 1929 to assist them in finding out how the betting was going had been a indicator which showed the number of units staked on each horse and the total amounts of units invested on the race, and to find the actual odds against each horse had involved a sum in mental arithmetic. Now discs would do the same automatically and instantaneously and record the exact odds. The discs bore numbers from one to one hundred. There was one disc for each runner, and a hand like the minute hand on a clock would travel to and fro as the betting waxed and waned, the prevailing odds being continuously shown – 5 to 1 against. No. 1. 10 to 1 against. No. 2. 3 to 1 against. No. 3, and so on. If a horse is at odds on this was also shown. Its price may lengthen to even money or 5 to 4 against, in which case the disc would instantaneously register the change.

This ingenious machine told the public virtually what the bookmaker told them vocally. The exact odds against any horse could be seen at a moment’s glance. The discs could record odds from even money to 1000 to 1, or even more if necessary, and it was possible to repeat the information shown on the main indicator in half a dozen other places on the racecourse without the necessity of employing any extra staff to attend them.

The indicator would start to record the odds as soon as one hundred bets had been made, which meant that in less than a minute after the selling windows had been opened the odds were exhibited. The indicator worked in conjunction with the ticket issuing machine, which so operated that there was no necessity to go to any particular window to place a bet. Any horse could be backed at any window for the specified amounts, and could be backed both for a win and for a place without moving on to another window. This removed the necessity of long queues at windows issuing tickets for certain horses which were in particular demand by the public.

* Tote was established under the Totalisator Act, 1929. Today, Tote operate betting services at all race meetings at all 26 racecourses in Ireland. All profits generated by Tote Ireland, are returned to horse racing for the improvement of the industry.