Excitement builds ahead of famous donkey derby

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Some of the action during the Donkey Derby at last year's Castletown Conyers pattern festival. Picture: Dave Gaynor
IT may not boast the thoroughbred horses or attendance figures associated with the Galway Races but the Castletown Donkey Derby will, once again, rival the famous festival in terms of sheer excitement!

IT may not boast the thoroughbred horses or attendance figures associated with the Galway Races but the Castletown Donkey Derby will, once again, rival the famous festival in terms of sheer excitement!

Since it hit the headlines in 1994 - when footage of the hotly contested derby was uploaded on YouTube - the race has captured the imagination and attracts huge crowds.

“The derby is the highlight of the local festival. It draws the crowds,” said Tim Tierney, treasurer of Castletown Development Association.

“The 1994 donkey derby is what has made it so big. It went viral on YouTube and nearly got a million hits.”

This year’s race takes place on Sunday, August 18 at 5.30pm - after the Limerick senior hurlers learn their fate in the All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park.

The game will be screened on a big screen and on televisions throughout the festival marquee.

Ten local bars from areas including Ballingarry, Granagh, Feenagh, Bruree and Ballyagran will battle it out for the 2013 donkey derby title.

“We supply the donkeys and the bars supply the riders,” said Tim.

“It’s part of the Gathering Festival this year. It’s an opportunity for people to catch up in nice, friendly surroundings. It will be a busy couple of days,” he added.

The Castletown Gathering Pattern Festival commences on Wednesday, August 14 with festival bingo in the marquee in aid of Castletown Ballyagran GAA at 8.30pm.

There will be a number of events taking place throughout the week before the festival comes to a close on Sunday, August 18 with the family fun day which will feature a number of events including a vintage display at 12 noon, helicopter rides, a mobile pet farm, penalty shoot out, pony rides, bouncing castles, face painting, a dog show, and a husband and wife race.

For more information on the festival see Castletown Development Association’s Facebook page.