Community rallies round to keep Ballyheigue Races on track
ONLY a concerted community effort allowed the Ballyheigue Races go ahead on Saturday as locals worked flat-out to clear the beach, promenade and car park of storm debris.
The success of the race meeting was unexpected as no one dared believe Saturday was going to be as calm and bright as it turned out - in the face of oppressive Atlantic weather systems all through Christmas and the New Year.
But the rare smile from the heavens was all the Ballyheigue Races needed as the meeting enjoyed the first real break in the stormy period since St Stephen's Day. First up, however, was the massive clean-up operation required on Friday to clear the area of the damage caused by the storm on Thursday night.
"To be fair a load of people who don't even have anything to do with the race committee came down and helped us clean up over Friday and without them we wouldn't have been able to go ahead, they deserve great praise," race spokesperson Liam O'Mahony said.
"We were extremely lucky with it, it was a perfect day for the racing and the action was great in fairness. They came from as far as Donegal, Cavan, Laois and Offaly as well as from all over Munster of course and we had to have an eighth race due to the massive demand," Liam added.
They were also delighted to have been joined by four of the founding members of the meeting - Seán O'Halloran, Brendan O'Carroll, Vinny O'Connell and Tom Lawlor.
The four were on the first committee back in 1969 and laid the foundations for an event that has been held every year since.
Apart from the action, it's the magnificent staging area of the beach in Ballyheigue that draws spectators and horse owners from so far afield.
"It's surely the finest place for racing in the entire country with the magnificent backdrop of Tralee Bay and we're only looking forward to next year already!" Liam added.