Of the 17 officially licenced greyhound tracks in Ireland, one of the very best is to be found in the capital city of Dublin. Lying in the suburb of Ringsend on the edge of the River Dodder, Shelbourne Park has been welcoming local racing fans for not far shy of 100 years, since 1927.
One of the sport’s most prestigious venues, not only in Ireland but anywhere in the world, Shelbourne Park plays host to many of greyhound racing’s most famous events, including the Irish Greyhound Derby, Irish Oaks, Champion Stakes and Juvenile Derby. Thanks to the investment of track organisers, the off-track facilities more than match the high standard of the racing action. Racegoers paying a visit to the stadium will find food and beverage options spread across the three floors of the invariably packed grandstand, with a cracking atmosphere all but guaranteed.
What’s On Offer at Shelbourne Park?
It’s all about evening racing at Shelbourne Park, with the venue’s three weekly meetings taking place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. That punter-friendly schedule helps the track to achieve consistently high attendances and a trip to the dogs at Shelbourne is a great addition to a weekend break in Dublin.
Gates open at 6:30pm on Thursday and Friday, with the first of either 10 or 11 races starting at 7:42pm, and the last getting underway at around 10pm. Saturday’s 10-race card features similar race times, but gates open half an hour earlier at 6pm. The big highlight of the season comes in September with the annual running of the Irish Greyhound Derby.
- Sprint Distance – 350y
- Middle Distances – 525y (standard) – 550y – 575y
- Stayers Distance – 600y – 750y
- Marathon Distance – 1025y
What Can You Expect?
General admission to the track is very reasonably priced at €10 for adults and €5 for students and OAPs. This price includes entry, racecard, access to the trackside viewing areas, ground floor bar, food hall and coffee dock, and the two bars on the first floor.
Punters Pack Deal
A popular alternative to standard entry is the Punters Pack deal, which includes entry, racecard, a meal from the fast-food outlet and a beer/wine/soft drink – all for just €18. Note that this deal is only available to groups of six or more and must be booked and paid for in advance.
Racegoers bringing the family along may wish to take advantage of the track’s Family Deal. Priced at €49.50, this package includes admission for two adults and two children (under 14), two race programmes, two adult meals and two children’s meals from the Food Hall.
In addition to the general admission areas, Shelbourne Park also boasts an impressive 400-capacity glass-fronted restaurant, providing an excellent view of the action and delicious dining options. Restaurant bookings are available to groups of two or more and must be made in advance at a cost of €20 per head.
This price includes entry and a reserved table for the evening, complete with bar and betting table service. All food and drink is then ordered and paid for on the day, but the track will kindly deduct €20 from your total bill at the end of the night.
Finger Food Platter Package
Rather than ordering from the main menu, larger groups may wish to consider the Finger Food Platter Package. Available to groups of 10 or more, this deal is priced at €20 per person and includes admission, racecard, reserved seating area, bar and betting facilities, and a selection of finger food sharing platters.
How to Get There
The stadium address is Shelbourne Park, South Lotts Road, Dublin 4, D04 W5C3. The track lies just outside Dublin city centre, making it easily accessible by road or rail for racegoers travelling from all areas of Ireland. Those making the trip from the British mainland have the option of a flight to Dublin International or the Holyhead to Dublin ferry crossing.
From the city centre, those driving to the track should take the R802 that leads to the stadium. On-site car parking is available at a cost of €2 per vehicle, with further street parking permitted in a number of the surrounding streets. For those not travelling by car, the venue is around a 15 to 20 minute walk from the heart of the city centre. Public transport options include the DART rail service to the nearby Grand Canal Station or the local bus services of the
C3, 15A, 15B 41X and 47.
How to Get in Touch
- Tel: – +353 1 525 3666
- Email: – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: – @shelbournepark
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Plans were first put in place for a greyhound track in the area in the mid-1920s. Recognising the success of Belfast’s Celtic Park Greyhound Stadium, four gentlemen by the names of Jim Clarke, Paddy O’Donoghue, Patsy McAlinden and Jerry Collins decided that it was about time the southern capital had a track too.
Settling upon a patch of land in the Ringsend docklands area of the city, works were quickly underway. Having swiftly recruited four resident trainers, the track then staged its first meeting on 14th May, 1927.
Easter Cup Debut
1928 saw the Easter Cup makes its debut – the race being named in honour of the Easter Monday Uprising of 1916. Later that same year one of the sport’s all-time greats made an appearance at the track when Mick The Miller equalled the 500yd world record around Shelbourne’s bends.
Irish Greyhound Derby Debut
Four years later in 1932, the Irish Greyhound Derby took place at the track for the first time. Alternating between Shelbourne and Harold’s Cross between 1932 and 1969, Ireland’s biggest race has been held at Shelbourne every year since 1970.
Hot on the heels of the Derby debut, the Irish Grand National also took place at Shelbourne in 1933 and 1934, with the 1930s also seeing the track host the Oaks and four editions of the St. Leger. This was very much the track’s golden era with the sport in general thriving at this time.
McAlinden Cup Debut
The prestigious McAlinden Cup then appeared for the first time in 1939. Seven years later, in 1946 the semi-finals of that competition saw the first ever use of photo-finish technology in Irish greyhound racing.
Base for Shelbourne FC
The track has acted as a multisport facility at various times in the past; Shelbourne FC being based at the site intermittently up until 1949, and speedway taking place in 1950-54, 1961 and 1970-71.
Returning to the greyhound action, the track received a welcome boost in 1960 when Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) paid for the installation of tote betting technology. Then in 1968, GRI stepped in to purchase the site outright – warding off the advances of developers with plans to repurpose the land.
Upgrades to the Track
The new owners swiftly invested a total of £240,000 to upgrade the stadium facilities, whilst the on-track action also received a couple of boosts. The Champion Stakes made its debut in 1979 and the Oaks became a permanent fixture in 1980.
Ever since the closure of Celtic Park in 1983, the track has been widely recognised as the Emerald Isle’s premier racing venue. Not ones to rest on their laurels, GRI seem intent on improving an already excellent race day experience, with March 2021 seeing the announcement of €2.3m worth of further upgrades.