The History of Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium.
Every Saturday night between 8pm and 10pm the place to be in
Dublin is greyhound
racing at . Located on Shelbourne
Park South Lotts Road
which itself dates back to 1721, the stadium has become a mecca of sports and
gambling. But while today those guests sitting in the park’s excellent
restaurant see it associated solely as a greyhound venue, it has a very
colourful sporting past.
Just like its Northside cousin
the stadium originally began life as a soccer ground. Originally a derelict
site, it became the home of Shelbourne FC pre-season in 1913. A trial match
took place on August 16th when Shelbourne played a Leinster League
select eleven. At that time Shelbourne played in the all-Ireland Irish Football
league and their first league match was a one all draw with fellow Dubliners
Bohemians. The ground was operated by the Shelbourne Sports Company Limited and
many various fund raising activities took place in the first couple of years to
pay for and extend the facilities at the ground. In March 1914 the club played
Manchester United while on May 23rd a fifteen mile challenge race
was run featuring Irish international running sensations Charlie Harris and
Paddy Fagan. A track around the pitch was used for Wednesday trotting and
whippet racing. Trotting on a Friday would cost one schilling admission while
to enter your pony cost £1 but there was a prize of £30 if you got through the
qualifying rounds. Croke Park
Over the following decades Shelbourne’s home venue was also used by the Football Association of Ireland following the establishment of the Irish Free State and the split from the IFA in Belfast, as home of both semi finals and finals of the FAI Cup including an enthralling final in April 1929 between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians. Shelbourne remained at the ground until the 1948/49 season when Shelbourne’s last match against
ended just like their first in a draw.
In September 1921 the then titled President of Ireland Eamon DeValera officially opened a Fete that featured seven a side Gaelic football tournament. Billed as the ‘best of outdoor and indoor attractions’ the indoor featured Irish dancing Feis, a Ceili and a cinema.
As a greyhound venue it was
Ireland’s second after the opening of Celtic Park
Greyhound racing began on May 14th 1927 in front of ten thousand
spectators packed into the venue. The National Greyhound Racing Company
Limited, the forerunner of Bord Na gCon and the Irish Greyhound Board was the
brainchild of Kerry native Jerry Collins, Paddy O’Donoghue, Patsy McAlinden and
But the early days of greyhound racing was not without its difficulties. A riot broke out in September 1927 when two dogs Galbally Lass and Skeango racing in the semi final of the Civic Cup stopped mid race and savaged each other. The crowd expected a blue flag denoting a ‘non race’ but to their dismay the 6-4 favourite Gone For Sure was declared the winner. The ‘mob in the cheap enclosure invaded the ground trampling wire and person and attacking the judges box’. Police from nearby Irishtown police station restored order.
Hockey arrived in March 1924 when
Ireland beat England
in a 3.15pm tip off to win the triple crown, a year later 1/6 would gain you
admittance to the Ireland v Scotland
In 1934 another new sport arrived when thousands arrived by ferry from
to watch the inaugural Perpetual Challenge Cup match between Warrington
and Wigan in rugby league. The match was
sponsored by the Hospital’s Trust and Wigan
overcame their opponent thirty two points to nineteen. Alas despite its
proposed annual status, this was the only rugby league match played at the
On July 9th 1937 promoter Joe McAllister organised a boxing tournament featuring flyweight contender Jim Warnock. Warnock won his bout but lost a belt eliminator to Peter Kane two weeks later in a fight held at the home of
In 1950 a new sport arrived, the thrill of the speedway. Motor bikes were speeding around the course in a sport that was now attracting both spectators and American riders eager to earn a living. The sport initially stayed four years at
promoted by Ronnie Green. It returned in 1961 for a season and a further two
years in 1970/1971. Although mostly made up of American riders The Shelbourne
Tigers captained by seventeen year old Ronnie Moore matched many of the big
teams from across the Shelbourne Park Irish Sea drawing
thousands to the south side venue.
In recent years greyhound racing has shared its space in
with show jumping.
The ‘Jumping In The City’ event organised by the Irish Greyhound Board as a way
of utilising their venues in Limerick, Shelbourne
Park Cork and Dublin on days when their
stadia were empty.