"A MASSIVE day" was enjoyed in Ballyferriter last Sunday as an estimated crowd of 1,500 thronged the beach to enjoy the annual staging of Ráiseanna Bheál Bán.
With 100 horses and ponies competing in 10 races, people travelled from far and wide to enjoy the spectacle of the last meet on the Irish Horse and Pont Southern Circuit ahead of the Dingle Races next month.
In recent years Ráiseanna Bheál Bán have been plagued by the weather but this year balmy sunshine set the perfect scene as the races played out on golden sands before an enthralled crowd.
The day also proved to be quite poignant as a minute's silence was observed before the staging of the Beál Bán Derby in memory of young local woman Bríd Baker who sadly passed away on June 18. "Bríd was a member of the Beál Bán race committee and a great supporter of the event; the minute's silence was well-respected and you could practically hear a pin drop," Seamus Leahy of coiste Ráiseanna Bheál Bán told The Kerryman.
With a strong field of competitors travelling from Cork, Limerick and Clare to compete with the best in local talent a great day was had by all, including Sheehy's Ice Cream Van, who could hardly keep up with the demand for '99s on the beach! A 'pub' on the beach was equally busy and was sold out of cider long before the last race as punters sought to slake their thirst.
"It was a massive day for us," Seamus added. "It was one of our biggest if not our biggest day yet since the races on Beál Bán were revived in 2002."
"The weather was absolutely perfect; we couldn't have asked for more. We want to thank everyone who took part, who helped with the event and to all the people who came along on the day."