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Earliest meeting: Monday 21st October 1776
Final meeting: September 1777
The County Donegal town of Ballybofey today boasts a population of 4500, but back in the late 18th century it was much smaller and more rural. The town stands on the River Finn and held an early four day race meeting from Monday 21st to Thursday 24th October 1776 when the £50 weight for age race over 3 miles on the first day was won by Mr Gavin Hamilton’s Emily. The Whim Plate the next day saw Mr Tennison’s Trinket defeat Miss Wilson and Castaway, while the Hunters 4 mile race on Wednesday 23rd October went to Old Orange for Mr Robert Knox. The most competitive race of the week was reserved until last, with a field of 8 contesting the Handicap. It proved to be an exciting race between Rook and Frolic, with the former just getting the upper hand. The next year the races in September 1777 formed part of a circuit which included Finae, Ballinrobe and lastly Ballybofey. There is no evidence in newspapers or the Racing Calendar about whether these became a regular event.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr Jos. Shadwell, Mr Gavin Hamilton
Principal Races Whim Plate, Ballybofey Handicap, Ballybofey Weight for Age race

Thursday 24th October 1776
Ballybofey Handicap over 4 miles
1. Rook, bay gelding owned by Mr W Boyde
2. Frolic, bay gelding owned by Mr Jos. Shadwell
3. Fair Rachael, grey mare owned by Mr F Savage
4. Catchpenny, bay gelding owned by Mr Charles Nesbit

The final meeting took place in September 1777.
Course today

In fields on the edge of the town.

If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
Download an order form
  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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