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Earliest meeting: Monday 22nd June 1761
Final meeting: Monday 30th April 1906
The County Offaly town of Parsonstown, later to be named Birr, is located at the point where the Rivers Camcor and Little Brosna meet. The earliest record of racing in Parsonstown was in 1761 when results from the three day meeting, stretching from Monday 22nd to Wednesday 24th June, were included in the Racing Calendar. On the opening day the 4 year old Stakes went to Mr Lambert’s mare, while Promise won the 5 year old Stakes the next day, but the most competitive race was on Wednesday 24th June when the 6 year old Stakes saw Mr French’s Humbug beat Prince Edward and Titus. The next year the meeting had extended to a full week from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th August, with the Open Handicap falling to Mr Lambert’s Freemason. The meetings were still being billed as Parsonstown in the 1770s, but by the 1780s had been relabelled as Birr races. By 1812, in a bid to ease the fixture congestion that was causing all Irish courses a problem, the Irish Turf Club assigned days or weeks to particular courses. Birr/Parsonstown was assigned the final week in September, the week after Maryborough races, but in 1813 an incident happened at the meeting epitomising some of the unruliness occurring in Irish racing at the time. At the September 1813 meeting Chanter, owned by Mr Rolleston, was brought down by a spectator on horseback after winning the first heat and was unable to contest further heats. Despite these serious incidents the meetings remained popular and well supported for almost another century, switching back to Parsonstown at the Clonkelly course in the 1860s. The final meeting took place on Monday 30th April 1906.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Mount Eagle, Colonel Lumm, Colonel Archdale
Principal Races Sir Law Parson Plate, Parsonstown Hunters Handicap, Parsonstown Open Handicap

22nd June 1761

Parsonstown 4 year old Stakes
1. Unnamed mare owned by Mr Lambert
2. Unnamed chestnut horse owned by Mr Daly

23rd June 1761

Parsonstown 5 year old Stakes
1. Promise, bay horse owned by Mr J H Foster
2. Unnamed bay colt owned by Mr Moore
3. Unnamed horse owned by Mr Malone

24th June 1761

Parsonstown 6 year old Stakes
1. Humbug, grey horse owned by Mr French
2. Prince Edward, grey horse owned by Captain Bailey
3. Titus, bay horse owned by Lord Mount Eagle

Monday 23rd to Friday 27th August 1762

Parsonstown 4 Year Old Stakes over 2 miles
1. Sprightley owned by Mr Julian
2. Lazy Johnny owned by Mr Dougherty
3. Pitt owned by Mr Lambert

Parsonstown Hunters Handicap over 4 miles
1. Granby owned by Mr Lowther
2. Whipper-In owned by Mr Quin
3. Bustard owned by Mr McDonnald

Parsonstown 6 Year Old Stakes over 4 miles
1. Goliab owned by Mr Armstrong
2. Ranger owned by Mr Huson
3. Artichoake (sic Artichoke) owned by Mr Forster

Parsonstown Open Handicap over 4 miles
1. Freemason owned by Mr Lambert
2. Hobgoblin owned by Colonel Archdale
3. Slamerkin owned by Mr Friend

In 1794 The Irish Racing Calendar was published by its proprietor P. Sharkey. It contained an Account of the Plates, Matches and Sweepstakes run for in Ireland from the April Meeting 1794. An extract of this is shown below.

Monday 22nd to Saturday 27th September 1794

Sir Law Parsons Plate over 2 miles
1. Ringleader owned by Colonel Lumm
2. Viceroy owned by Mr Fallon
3. Honest Ned owned by Mr Bell

Inhabitants of Parsonstown Plate over 2 miles
1. Deserter owned by Colonel Lumm
2. Unnamed spotted mare by Friar owned by Mr Daly

D B Daly £50 Plate over 3 miles
1. Kings County owned by Mr Malone
2. Dennis O’Neal owned by Mr Watson
3. Unnamed horse owned by Mr H Kelly

Parsonstown £50 Plate over 4 miles
1. Teucer owned by Mr Daly
2. Kitty owned by Mr Dennis
3. Bacchus owned by Mr Kirwan

The final meeting took place on Monday 30th April 1906
Course today On the Clonkelly course near Parsonstown.
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

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