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Earliest meeting: Thursday 25th August 1812
Final meeting: Tuesday 7th October 1856
The small County Kilkenny town of Johnstown, also known historically as Coorthafooka, was once just a village which was laid out by the Hely family of Foulkscourt Castle and boasted a population of less than 450 in the early 18th century. It was part of the Barony of Galmoy and its first race meeting of note took place in 1812 on a course midway between Mageney and Castledermot. The early meeting on Thursday 25th August 1812 was barely sustainable, offering prize purses worth less than 3 Guineas per race. However, the meeting did prosper and at the two day affair on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th October 1829 the Johnstown Racing Sweepstake was dominated by Mr Maher’s pair, with Beppo beating Speculator. He did not have as much luck the next day when his Talma was beaten into second place in the 2 mile Hunters Stakes behind Mr Lyon’s Kate. One of the last two day meetings to be staged as ‘Johnstown Races’ was from Monday 6th to Tuesday 7th October 1856 when the Johnstown Stakes went to Captain Burke’s Uncle Tom, with the humble Ballysallen Selling Stakes falling to Mr Hogan’s Rosalia. Meetings did take place on the course in later years, particularly those billed as ‘Castledermot races’.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr Charles Hely (Owner), Mr M Keating (Steward), Mr Maher
Principal Races Johnstown Stakes, Johnstown Racing Sweep

Monday 6th October 1856
Johnstown Stakes over 1 ½ miles
1. Uncle Tom, bay gelding owned by Captain Burke
2. Dunmurry, bay colt owned by Mr Irwin
3. Veteran, bay gelding owned by Mr D Wynne

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 7th October 1856.
Course today On a course midway between Mageney and Castledermot.
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.
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  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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