Saturday 24 March 2018

Ladies swap uniforms for race-day finery for Rising commemorations

Fairyhouse to mark running of 1916 Grand National, writes Fashion Editor Bairbre Power

Garda Ciara Murphy and Army Captain Catherine Lundon promote the 2016 Grand National at Fairyhouse. Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells
Garda Ciara Murphy and Army Captain Catherine Lundon promote the 2016 Grand National at Fairyhouse. Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells
Catherine Lundon in uniform. Photo: Colm Mahady / Fennells
Garda Ciara Murphy in uniform
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Out of their uniforms and into glamorous civvies, two racing style queens are planning their 2016 racing schedule as Fairyhouse marks the running of the Irish Grand National a century ago.

The Co Meath race course holds a special place in the hearts of Garda Ciara Murphy from Dunboyne and army Captain Catherine Lundon from Mullingar as they both won the coveted Carton House 'Most Stylish Lady' on Easter Monday in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Ciara, a garda stationed at Store Street in Dublin and Catherine, who is studying at the Military College in the Curragh camp in Co Kildare after returning from UN peace keeping duties abroad both won the keenly contested €8,000 Carton style stakes competition.

Ciara and Catherine hope to attend Fairyhouse on Easter Monday where race goers will witness a commemoration of the historic Irish Grand National meeting which took place as the opening shots of the Rising rang out through the capital.

The racecourse are planning a restaging of the 1916 Irish Grand National race with the help of the local Ward Union Hunt.

Fairyhouse played a pivotal part in the events of Easter Monday 1916 as the race was the biggest sporting event in the country. The capital emptied of citizens and British Army personnel who attended the Irish Grand National which was a highlight of the social calendar.

On April 24, 2016 a crowd of over 25,000 shouted on 'All Sorts' to victory but there was consternation when news of the uprising reached Fairyhouse 20 miles away.

All vehicles and nearby trains were commandeered by the British Army as the officers and soldiers scrambled to get back to Dublin and 'All Sorts,' the Richard Cleary-trained winner had to be walked home the 100km to Streamstown in Co Westmeath due to the sudden lack of transport.

These days, the race is known as Ireland's richest jump race and is worth over €275,000. Carton House is again sponsoring the Most Stylish Lady competition on March 28.

Catherine Lundon missed out on defending her crown last year as she was away on UN peacekeeping duties on the Syrian-Israeli border.

She moves effortlessly between her army fatigues, khakis and heavy boots and race day glamour and last Monday, was runner-up in the Monart 'Most Stylish Lady' at Leopardstown.

Ciara made it into the top 10 finalists at Leopardstown.

With their proven winning style, the girls were invited back to Fairyhouse for a photocall to mark the commemoration plans.

It was, appropriately, a mix of modern and vintage silhouettes for the day; Catherine wore a vintage hat from New York while Ciara swapped her garda blue uniform for a blue coat from Dunnes Stores.

Irish Independent

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