Ladies Day a big draw as 100,000 expected through the gates
More bookings and an increase in 'quality' events at the RDS are "definite" signs of a recovery in the economy, the chief executive of the society has said.
On the opening day of the Dublin Horse Show, Mr Duffy said strong advance ticket sales and a 5pc increase in entries for the Horse Show's 125 competitions and classes are further signs that things are beginning to improve.
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the historic social and equestrian event over the course of the week, as the Horse Show celebrates 141 years.
Ladies Day today and the Aga Khan Nations Cup tomorrow will be the biggest draws.
The demand for corporate hospitality, trade stands and sponsorship was also "very strong" this year, Mr Duffy said.
He said the events business, like other areas, had gone through difficult times after 2008.
But they had managed to survive thanks to a controversial €34m development of commercial office blocks on the grounds at the Ballsbridge venue. Mr Duffy said this had been "a really important decision" which had given them a financial underpinning.
The RDS was now financially stable, he revealed.
"We were fortunate through the downturn that we had a steady level of business but this is the first time really, from a commercial point of view, that we are really seeing the buoyancy of the economy coming through," he said.
The RDS is hosting more than 500 events a year at the Ballsbridge venue and the development of the stadium, with a new Anglesea stand set to open in time for the 2017 Horse Show, will allow the society to cater for additional crowds - up from 18,500 to 25,000.
However, there was no budget available for a sliding roof to cater for all weather, Mr Duffy admitted.
"It will be fit for purpose for the Horse Show and of course for other things like concerts," he said.
There is no limit set on the number of concerts the venue is permitted to stage each year but the most ever played was six over the course of a summer.
The RDS enjoyed a good relationship with local residents associations, said Mr Duffy. "We are really conscious of being a good neighbour and have strong 'good neighbour' policies."
"We do 500-plus events a year. It's not just the Horse Show and the rugby," he said.
Meanwhile, the RDS has added another string to its bow with the opening of a new Educate Together school on the grounds - given a two-year lease as it seeks new premises.
Today's Best Dressed Lady will walk away with a shopping trip to New York worth €8,000.