"People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors."
Did You Know?
Write to Us
Links/Link to Us
Advertise with us
Lords of the Curragh Ring
Before the first race, the bookies congregate in hermetic huddles, chatting, calculating, and conspiring. Their assistants man the pitches; blacking out non-runners, rummaging in the stout betting bags and flivelling wads of Euros.
"Runners" and tic-tac men meticulously arrange wooden boxes and stools to ensure an unimpeded view of all the odds boards in the ring.
Early prices for the Derby are prominently displayed but few serious punters are interested since the grapevine has news of a "job" in the first race. It is a case of getting the money on "at first show". So the big race glamour can wait. Byte-sized bookmaking graduates from the chalk-and-spit brigade ostentatiously display their brightly coloured digital display boards - the products of the largesse of generations of mug punters.
As one odds layer said in a recent press interview: "The public like the new computerised boards - they are attracted by a bit of flash. Although they cost about ten grand including the computer, they are well worth it."
Too right they are! It's heart-warming indeed to see that all that money is being put to such philanthropic use.
Over the public address system the familiar message resounds: "The horses are leaving the parade ring." The betting buzz intensifies as the layers scrub their blackboards, nod to their tic-tac men, and begin to chalk their prices with professional circumspection.
The wide boys and the form students cluster around the pitches eagerly anticipating the "show" and poised to pounce if the layers inadvertently "overprice" one.
3/1 . Before the chalk has been withdrawn from the board, the moneyed fists thrust forward. "Six monkeys to two .. three grand to one three ." In their wake follow the impressionable and the bewildered "Three ponies .. three score . three tenners." But the 3/1 is now 5/2 and the sharks have sped elsewhere.
In the midst of this feeding frenzy, the embattled bookmakers dispatch their harassed runners to "bet it back" or "take all the threes you can get". But such injunctions are hopeless, since only the blind, deaf, or masochistic would now be offering such apparently suicidal odds.
There is a momentary hiatus as thwarted punters settle down once more to scan the mesmeric blackboards, the digital display screens, and the poker faces of the layers.
Golden-skinned models pose obliviously with glasses of champagne; preening thespians embrace each other histrionically; and predatory politicians elbow their way through the electorate, intent on snapping up last-minute betting opportunities.
"The white flag has been raised They're under starters order And they're off."
The cheering climbs inexorably to a deafening crescendo as the horses come galloping down the long home straight, their necks stretching and hooves pounding. Chestnuts, bays and browns. Blinkers, hoods and sheepskin nosebands.
Craine, Murtagh, Manning, Eddery, Smullen and Kinane crouching and driving relentlessly towards the winning post . Yellow cross sashes, blue chevrons, plum cap, scarlet epaulettes, gold braid and sleeves, and white cross of Lorraine.
The voice of the commentator reverberates throughout the enclosures and across the broad grassy plains of Kildare: "The winner - number six Second - number nine . and the judge has called for a photo for third "
The exultant cheering and whooping gradually give way to a babel of laughing congratulations and conflicting opinions. Already the bookies' assistants are shuffling the sheets of runners to display the field for the second race while their employers celebrate or commiserate with one another.
Behind each betting pitch the clerks complete their calculations and return their "holding cards" to the inconspicuous officials of the Racing Board. They gulp tea from disposable white cups, chew slabs of milk chocolate or bite deeply into thick roast beef sandwiches.
Punters repair to the bars or the grandstand to assess prospects in the next race. And there are still almost two hours of activity before the Derby takes place!
Gambling might indeed be the one sure way of getting nothing for something; but, all things considered, on Budweiser Irish Derby Day there is no choice but to repair to the Curragh of Kildare
Note: We first met Gerard when he was writing articles for the now-defunct Themestream web site. His pen name there was Cosmas O'Shaughnessy. He has written many terrific articles and poems.
In the meantime, he would love you to visit his web site. If you're interested in furthering your career, it will be well worth your time. Assignments Plus
The Long Room, Trinity College Library, Dublin
One of Dublin's most popular visitor attractions, it houses 200,000 of the Library's oldest books, including the Book of Kells. Originally built between 1712 and 1732, its roof was raised to accommodate an upper gallery in 1860. The Long Room also holds one of the last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic as well as the Brian Boru harp- the oldest of its kind in Ireland dating back to the 15th century. The room is lined with marble busts - a collection that was formed when 14 busts from the famous sculptor Pieter Scheemakers were acquired by the college.
|All contents copyright © 2001 through 2011 inclusive - all rights reserved.
March 4, 2011
Rollover button Images:
Wedding LaRose, Kids Reading & Kitchen Apples and Tea from All Posters prints.
The information provided on this site is offered as-is, without warranty. This site's owners, operators, authors and partners disclaim any and all liability from the information provided herein.
Any trademarks or registered trademarks on this site are the property of their respective owners.
This Web Site Bashed, Kicked & Glued together by Russ Haggerty.