Ladies day proved a huge hit at Ballinrobe Races last Tuesday evening and racecourse manager John Flannelly couldn't have asked for a better day for the official opening of the magnificent new facilities at the course, which is now up there with the best in Ireland.
And the Ballinrobe committee are not content to just rest on their laurels and already plans are in train for an expansion of the track to cater for the bigger races, and we are likely to see Ballinrobe emerge as on of the top racing courses in Ireland.
As it is, they have already achieved much, with a magnificent new entrance and new bar and catering facilities to cater for the ever-increasing numbers that enjoy a day at the races.
Interesting to note that Ballinrobe was the track where Dermot Weld's Gold Cup winner Rights of Passage won his first race and word is there was wide local support for the horse who won at Ascot at the lovely odds of 20/1.
The magnificent Coranna on-course restaurant has an interesting story behind its name.
In May 1846 the famous horse Coranna won the Chester Cup. The horse was owned by George Henry Moore (1810-1870), who was the local landlord of the Moorehall Estate at the time.
Moorehall is situated on the shores of Lough Carra and although the beautiful house was destroyed by fire when many of the great houses of Ireland were torched during a period of political unrest, there still remains a substantial portion of the building which is worth visiting.
The win was a massive amount at the time - £17,000, equivalent to a million to in today's money - and was during the time of the Great Famine. Moore used much of his winnings to alleviate the sufferings of his tenants and it is reported that no tenants on the Moorehall Estate died from the famine nor were there any evictions carried out on the estate.
The following is an excerpt from a letter to his mother from Chester, May 6, 1846.
My dearest mother,
Coranna won the Chester Cup this day. We win the whole £17,000. This is in fact a little fortune. It will give me the means of being very useful to the poor this season. No tenant of mine shall want for plenty of everything this year, and though I shall expect work in return for hire, I shall take care that whatever work is done shall be for the exclusive benefit of the people themselves. I also wish to give a couple of hundred in mere charity to the poorest people about me or being on my estate, so as to make them more comfortable than they are; for instance, a cow to those who want one most, or something else to those who may have a cow, but want some other article of necessary comfort; indeed I will give £500 in this way. I am sure it will be well expended, and the horses will gallop all the faster with the blessing of the poor.