The harbour city of Galway on the west coast of Ireland is perhaps best known as the setting for one of the nation’s most famous horse racing festivals. However, that is not the only racing show in this corner of Connacht. Also taking place is a regular programme of dog racing action at the Galway Sportsgrounds. First opening for business back in 1927, this multi-sports site also acts as the home of the successful Connacht Rugby Club.
One of the biggest greyhound venues in the country, racegoers can expect a range of top-class facilities, including three bars, an excellent restaurant and tiered seating areas. A cracking night out is all but guaranteed throughout the year, bu
t the track’s seasonal highlight falls in March, with the annual running of the Champion Bitch Stake.
What’s On Offer at Galway?
One of the real weekend hotspots of Ireland’s third largest city, Galway Greyhound Stadium stages racing every Friday and Saturday evening – barring the occasional cancellation due to a clash with the rugby. Gates open at 6:30 pm on both days, with the first race commencing at around 7:50 pm and the hare set in motion for the last shortly after 10:00 pm. Thanks to the excellent facilities on offer and punter-friendly scheduling, Galway boasts an average attendance of close to 5,000, making it one of the most popular tracks in Ireland.
- Sprint Distance – 325y – 350y
- Middle Distances – 525y (standard) – 550y – 575y
- Stayers Distance – 700y
- Marathon Distance – 810y – 1010y
In addition to the greyhound action, the Galway Sportsgrounds is also the traditional home of Pro 14 Rugby Union outfit, Connacht Rugby. Based at the Sportsground since the late 1920s, the club continues to use the site, both for training purposes, and for the staging of its matches for all age levels, including the successful professional side. The recent achievements – including a Pro 14 title win in 2015/16 – and increasing popularity of the side have been the main drivers behind the recent stadium improvements.
What Can You Expect?
General admission at Galway is priced at €10 for adults and €5 for OAPs and students, whilst children under the age of 14 go free. General admission comes with a free race programme and grants access to the ground floor areas, including a bar, non-reserved seating, and the Barker’s Bar fast food outlet.
Galway also offers a Punters Pack deal which includes entry, race programme, meal from Barker’s Bar, and a bottle of beer/glass of wine/mineral water – all for €18. Do note however that Punters Pack tickets are only available when purchased in batches of six or more.
Racegoers looking to really make a night of it may wish to consider a booking in the swish Masters Restaurant. Located on the first floor, this popular glass-fronted facility provides panoramic views of the track, tv monitors relaying the action, bar and betting table service, and of course delicious food.
Masters Restaurant bookings are available to parties of two or more and must be booked in advance at a price of €20 per person. Included in this price is entry to the stadium, race programme, and reserved seating. Food is then ordered and paid for on the night as in a standard restaurant. At the end of the evening, the track will kindly apply a €20 discount to the overall bill.
An alternative to the a la carté menu is the track’s Finger Food Platter Package. Available to parties of 10 or more, this package must again be booked in advance. The €20 per head price includes admission, programme, reserved seating area in the restaurant, bar and tote betting facilities, and a selection of finger food served on sharing platters.
How to Get There
The stadium address is Galway Greyhound Stadium, College Road, Galway, H91 F880. The track lies between the R339 and R336, which in turn are linked to the major M6 road which travels across the country from Dublin. The centrally located Galway Railway Station is only around a 10-minute walk from the track and receives regular services from Dublin, Limerick and Athenry. For those who don’t fancy the walk from the city centre, the 402, 403, 404, 405, 409, 425 and 425A bus services all stop just outside the stadium.
How to Get in Touch
- Tel: – 061 448 080
- Email: – email@example.com
- Twitter: – @galwaygreyhound
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Having first opened for business back in 1927, Galway Sportsground is now rapidly closing in on its 100th anniversary and has certainly undergone its fair share of changes over the years. Going back to 1927, it was not Greyhound Racing, nor rugby that first took place here, but rather football. Connacht Rugby Club however weren’t far behind, playing their first match at the venue later that year – and there they have remained ever since.
Keen to introduce greyhound racing to the facility, the Galway Greyhound Company was then established in 1929, although it wasn’t until three years later in 1932 that the first meeting took place. 1932 also saw the stadium play its part in the Gaelic Sports season when playing host to the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship Final, with the Gaelic County Hurling Championship Final also taking place here later in 1942.
Events on the greyhound side of things remained largely unchanged until 1978 when it became apparent that the site needed a facelift. A facelift which turned into a £500,000 renovation, complete with a new stand and bar facilities, and a total re-laying of the track.
The 1985/86 season then saw the site hark back to those footballing roots, with the stadium being used for Galway United’s first ever European fixture against Danish side Lyngby FC in the European Cup Winners Cup. Returning to the dog track, one of the most significant alterations of more modern times came in 1998 when the racing surface was converted from grass to sand for the first time.
More Recent Upgrades
More recent changes have centred upon the facilities. A significant €6 million in renovations in 2003 was followed by further improvements in both 2011 and 2016 – the latter two upgrades being fueled by Connaught Rugby’s Heineken Cup debut and Pro 14 League title. When combined the improvements resulted in an increase in stadium capacity from 5,500 to 8,100.
It seems that the upgrades may not be finished just yet. As of 2022 Greyhound Racing Ireland – who still owns the lease – is reported to be in discussions with Connacht Rugby regarding the possibility of converting the site into a €30 million, 12,000 capacity, all-seater venue. Already one of Ireland’s most striking dog racing venues, Galway Greyhound Stadium, may be about to become even more impressive.