IT may not reach the attendance figures of this week’s Galway Races, but if other years are anything to go by, then the Castletown Donkey Derby will serve up just as many heart-stopping moments.
The derby, which for many is the highlight of the Castletown Pattern Festival, returned last year after a 17 year absence.
Festival organisers revived the race after the 1994 derby became an internet sensation with almost 500,000 hits on YouTube.
Last year, over 2,500 people watched on as a photo finish was declared null and void due to a false start, the second race was also deemed to have been a false start and the winner was finally declared at the third time of asking.
“We had a great crowd last year and we would be hoping for the same again this year,” said Siobhan Scanlon, secretary, Castletown Development Association of the Castletown Festival which starts of Wednesday, August 15 with Mass at the Holy Well.
After mass there will be an afternoon tea dance in the hall.
The will also be a full bar in the marquee with music by Shaun O’Dowd featuring Hanora at 10pm.
On Thursday, a 7km walk/run will take place with registration at 6pm.
There will also be fun bingo in the marquee in aid of Castletown Ballyagran GAA.
Other highlights of the festival include a 75km fun cycle in aid of Castletown Development Association and Make a Wish Foundation on Saturday, a horse and pony ride from 3pm and a charity shave, also on Saturday.
Sunday - the family fun day - will feature of course the donkey derby as well as a vintage display, a threshing display and a number of attractions for children including a bouncy castle and face painting.
The All-Ireland hurling semi-finals will be shown in the marquee.
The donkey derby which was held in Castletown in 1994 became a global hit in November 2010 when it was uploaded on YouTube by Kevin Daly, a well known videographer in the Newcastle West area.
The audience are treated to ‘tell all’ interviews between the three participating jockeys and local publican and commentator Joe O’Brien before they mount their donkeys, Hairy Moll, Percy and Miss Ellie.
Next comes the off-the-wall race itself, which has to be seen to be believed. According to Siobhan both jockey, Billy Lee – who lives in Castletown –and commentator Joe O’Brien are expected to make an appearance on the day of the donkey derby.
Sponsorship cards for the walk and cycle in aid of the Make a Wish Foundation are available from any committee member.
For full information on the festival contact any committee member on 087-1624644 or see the Castletown Development Association Facebook page.