Humans of Kildare - Paul Keane of The Curragh Racecourse - IntoKildare
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Humans of Kildare – Paul Keane of The Curragh Racecourse

Tell me about The Curragh Racecourse.

Well, The Curragh is Ireland’s premier racecourse. It gets global recognition as a centre of excellence, not just for racing, but also for training grounds. Racing has been taking place since the 1750s, but the new grandstand was completed in 2019. We are lucky enough to host Ireland’s five premiere flat races which are broadcast live to 16 different time zones around the world. Irish flat racing has become globally renowned in the last 50 to 60 years, it’s taken its place amongst the top-ranking countries in the world. Horse racing is in the Irish DNA, and it’s very much a part of our DNA.

Any Sunday in The Curragh you’re likely to see world class jockeys, top trainers, and well-known owners, and you just don’t know which of the next two-year-old maidens that turns up is going to be the next superstar! It’s very competitive, the standard is extremely high! It’s a racecourse that’s steeped in history, but one which is certainly evolving with time and one which is very which covers a broad collective of different jockeys and trainers.

Everything you see at The Curragh is dedicated to the racehorse. It’s about a passion and love for horses – that’s an absolute fact. I mean, most of our biggest races are named after horses, not people… it’s definitely all about the legacy of horses!

What can people expect on a trip to The Curragh Races?

Of course, they expect good value for money. Our gate price on Sunday is €20, which would run until Wednesday before any race meeting, and early bird tickets are €15 for an adult. You can expect lovely, comfortable facilities, our grandstand is more akin to a hotel internally. The main hall on the ground floor has underfloor heating, for example. Also, the views are exceptional!

The Curragh is also a very social track, it’s a great place to meet people and to mix. We have people of all generations, young people through to some of our more senior members. Our senior members would tell you that they enjoy our membership package here at The Curragh as it’s a great place to get together with their friends.

Tell me something that people might not know about The Curragh.

This month we’re launching a behind the scenes tour. So, we race on 23 race days a year, and having a wonderful new facility, we want to share that with people all year round! On Wednesdays and Thursdays, we will have a bookable two hour fully guided tour between race meetings where you get to go to places that are strictly off-limits on race day. It’s a very different visit compared to a race meeting, and you’re going to learn and experience many wonderful things. We guarantee this tour will enhance your future race-going experience!

A lot of the tour focuses on the jockey’s changing room which is strictly off limits on race days. Visitors will find out what it’s like to be a young jockey and discover their journey towards becoming a senior jockey. We’ve embellished the jockey change room which brings it to life for visitors, which I’ll keep up my sleeve for the time being… but it’s a real treat!

What is your favourite thing to do in Kildare on your day off?

My favourite thing to do in Kildare is to go to Raheen’s GAA training on a Friday night with the kids, we have two kids, a little boy and a little girl. The GAA in Kildare is unique, there’s a great sense of community spirit. For me, it’s my favourite thing because it’s the one thing we all do together as a family.

Other than that, a walk around the eastern side of the Curragh plain, which is locally nicknamed Braveheart Hill, as it’s where they shot Braveheart! It’s just lovely and open, fresh air, lovely countryside, and with stunning views! Get the kids out, throw a football in the car and have a kick-about.

Where’s your favourite place to eat out in Kildare?

Good one, actually! Bouchen in Naas is great, the food is superb. It’s up over Kavanagh’s, a great Kildare pub, and we’d enjoy going in for a couple of drinks after our meal to relax and unwind.

What is your favourite song?

Oh God… now you’ve got me. I wasn’t expecting that one!

Definitely something by Radiohead… hhhhhmmmm, it would probably be ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’.

What’s your favourite movie?

Gosh, again? Favourite movie… Casablanca! I could watch it over and over again, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore… “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”.

Paul Keane
Paul Keane, Curragh Racecourse