The Galway Races is an Irish horse-racing festival that starts on the last Monday of July every year. Held at Ballybrit race course in Galway, Ireland over seven days, it is the longest of all the race meets that occur in Ireland or Britain.
The first racing festival held in Ballybrit was a two-day event with the first race meeting on Tuesday, 17 August 1869. The summer festival was extended to a 3 day meeting in 1959, 4 days in 1971, 5 days in 1974, 6 days in 1982 and, most recently to, 7 days in 1999. The summer festival is the highlight of the business year for most local businesses as crowds flock from all over the world to attend one of the world's biggest race meetings.
The pub underneath the Corrib Stand, built in 1955, was for many years the longest bar in the world. It was replaced by the Millennium Stand which opened in 1999. The Killanin Stand opened in 2007 replacing the old Corrib (west) Stand.
On the 4th day of the Galway races there was a race meeting held in Tuam. The last races held in the Tuam race course was in 1973.
Additional race meetings also take place in September and October, but these are not as popular as the summer festival, which draws more than 200,000 spectators.
Right-handed course of one mile and two furlongs, with a steep decline into the dip where the last two fences are situated. These fences are famous for being the closest two fences on any racecourse in the world. There is a sharp incline to the finish line.
Thursday is traditionally the busiest and most stylish day of the week-long Galway Racing Festival. Ladies compete for the coveted title of Best Dressed Person or Most Elegant Hat.
The Galway Races are the subject of At Galway Races, a poem by W. B. Yeats. They are also the subject of eponymous folk song, popularized by the Dubliners and the Chieftains. The Celtic Rock band, JSD Band played it on the seventies; It appears on their album, Travelling Days. The song also appears on The Kreellers 2008 release, Sixth and Porter. Further, it constitutes the last third of the track Medley on the 1988 album If I should fall from Grace with God by The Pogues (the two first parts being Recruiting Sergeant and the instrumental The rocky road to Dublin).