The Basics of the Galway Races – Do’s and Don’ts for Ladies!

29 Jul

Dubbed the Irish Mardi Gras, Ballbrit Racecourse outside Galway plays host to Ireland’s longest racing festival this week, held over seven days. Wednesday is Galway Plate day and Thursday is Ladies Day, with the Galway Hurdle.

Galway Races Ladies DayArguably the most popular of the Irish race meetings, it became synonymous with the excesses of the Celtic Tiger, as property developers arrived by helicopter to mingle with reality TV stars under the free-flowing taps of the government tents.

The flashiness has been muted since the economy nose dived in 2008, but it is just as popular with the cream of Ireland’s society who migrate to the West of Ireland for the last week in July and is still considered the premier racing meet for fashionistas and horse fanciers alike.

Best Dressed competition hopefuls should make an early arrival, usually around noon, so the style spotters can mingle through the crowd and get a look at the clobber you’ve put together. Like Punchestown there’s no formal entry procedure. Prizes are usually awarded to the Best Dressed Lady and Best Hat.

Most pubs and hotels, notable the Radisson and the G all host their own Best Dressed competitions, so prizes can be won off the course.


  • Kelli O'Dell, 2012 Best Dressed Lady at the Galway Races

    Kelli O’Dell, 2012 Best Dressed Lady at the Galway Races

    Embrace the mayhem. Galway is one of the most hectic race meetings in the British Isles, so adopt an easy-going attitude to the drunks, the litter and the overall chaos.

  • Take out enough cash so you’re not hopping from empty ATM to ATM in order to keep the Bolly flowing.
  • Book your accommodation well in advance. Race week is notoriously difficult and expensive to find a place to lay your head. You’ll be very lucky to get a deal, but the early Spring offers the best pricing. Expect frolocking on the corridor and parties with your neighbours. If you haven’t managed this then put on your biggest smile!


  • Find yourself in a chip shop separating chips from sinamay. Shaming yourself on the street is particularly unladylike. Head back to your hotel and have your guilty pleasure delivered to the door, or ask at the hotel what restaurants will be opening on race week.
  • Under any circumstances remove your shoes. The streets are laced with smashed glass, and A + E will already be overwhelmed without your spliced metatarsal to deal with.

“There where the course is,

Delight makes all of the one mind”

The Galways Races by WB Yeats.


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