Puck Fair is over and now everyone in Mid Kerry is eagerly awaiting the Glenbeigh festival and races which run from the 23rd to the 25th of August 2019. The dates and times of the races are controlled by the tides on Rossbeigh beach. All races must be run between the tides and gives only about four hours to get racing done. But when did these races begin? There are no written records available, only anecdotal evidence. Local historians believe that the running of the races on the beach goes back as far as the end of the 1800s. It is almost certain that the races were held in 1903. The great Irish writer, John Millington Synge while holidaying at Mountain Stage mentions he spent the day at the Glenbeigh races in his writing. Cahirsiveen race meetings can be traced back to 1852 when the race course was donated to South Kerry by Daniel O’Connell. Horse racing was common in the mid 1800’s and every farmer owned at least one horse for working and transportation.
The Glenbeigh races must have died out for some period of time because we know that in 1924 that four local men came together to revive the meeting. This was short lived as on the same day they were issued with a court summons for not having a valid permit. Another successful attempt was made in 1957 which incorporated the races with a dance and the selection of the first dance queen in the Emir ballroom. It then went on to become a two day event and introduced jump racing and sulky racing. The festival encountered more problems in 1978 due to high insurance costs and it brought an end to the event. After a lapse of almost twenty years a new committee formed in 1996. They adopted a professional approach and after securing adequate sponsorship the white flag was raised and to this present day the races and festival have gone from strength to strength. In 2008 a new vibrant committee replaced the retiring 1996 team and now with their experience and professionalism the future of the festival looks certain to continue. It is now up to the people of the surrounding area to attend, support and ensure the future of this festival, now in its third century.