Louisburgh, Co. Mayo

View the 2010 race report here


Welcome to The Carrowniskey Beach Races  

  2010 saw the return of racing on the beach

The 2011 races took place on

Sunday 3rd July 2011

Beach racing with horses first became a popular form of entertainment in the last century with the early races in this area taking place on Carrowmore Beach  just outside the village of Louisburgh in the County Mayo. These races then moved further along the shore to the beach at Cross near Killeen and then to the beach at Carrowniskey pictured here.  When the last of the races took place in 1982 these were held at nearby Killadoon Beach.

At that time the racing menu was five races as follows;

Parish Race,  Two Open Races,  Farmer’s Plate and then a Handicapped Race for all beaten horses.

   There was also a Donkey Derby as well as some sports events that included a Sack Race,  a Three Legged Race,  a Tug-of-War and of course the compulsory Egg and Spoon Race.  Refreshments included a Beer Tent.

   The original races always took place on a Wednesday as this was half-day closing in the nearby town of Westport and therefor a better crowd following was ensured.

   Funding for these races was provided from local house to house collections in the area.


Lydia Tamasin Day-Lewis, better known as Tamasin Day-Lewis, (born 17 September 1953 in Greenwich, London) is a television chef, daughter of the poet Cecil Day-Lewis and actress Jill Balcon, and sister of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

  In part of an article in the UK Telegraph she recalls how her father reacted when she was asked to be the first girl to ride in these local Irish races, she felt as fearless as some children do before coming face to face with real danger.

  She felt totally confident at the tender age of thirteen that she would be able to compete with the assorted assembly of tough West of Ireland farmers. She recalls having seen the film National Velvet and that she had been riding since the age of five.

  The annual races took place at low tide on the Carrowniskey Strand in Mayo (in the days before health and safety regulations destroyed such things).

  On the day in question she arrived to find a huge crowd of spectators.

   Her horse, Louisburgh Lass, was not spooked by anything, but she suddenly had that awful sick-to-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling you get when you know you are out of your depth and there is no turning back. Her  mother appeared to be just as nervous as she was. However, her father had sensed that she could handle it. Her father’s trust was enough. Suddenly this was not about winning or losing; it was about proving she could live up to his  faith. She came in second, relieved at having stayed in the saddle, and vindicating his trust.

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