Horse Racing in Moville

Did you know that there used to be horse racing in Moville?

It used to take place on the Tuesday of the Regatta weekend.

It took place in the Bay Field.

This was after the 2nd world war.

Not only was there horse racing there was also athletics and five-a-side football.

Donkey Derby

The Donkey Derby took place that weekend too.

It was one-lap of the Bay Field.

My father remembers once when he took part in the Donkey Derby there were eight donkeys in it.

He was quite excited as he lined up at the start.

However, his donkey, when it got to the first corner, wouldn’t turn the corner.

Instead it headed up the hill for the Bay Field gate where my father fell off after trying to turn it round.

Horse Racing in the Bay Field

There were several different horse races over several distances.

The horses were, according to my father, Flappers. He said he though they were ex-race horses.

All the horses were ridden by local people – mainly farmers’ sons.

There were six horse races altogether and they had prize money.

Paying to Get In at the Bay Field

This came out of the ‘gate’ as people had to pay to get in.

According to my father there would have been up to about a thousand in the crowd – all paying customers.

According to my father it cost two shillings to get in – which would have been a reasonable bit of money in those days although it is worth only about 10p now or 12 cents.

It seems that the Moville Regatta was really big in those days.

Cycling to Moville from Newtowncunningham

Indeed, there was a group of guys who used to cycle all the way from Newtowncunnigham on the Monday of the Regatta weekend for the Regatta.

That’s 35 miles.

After the regatta they used to get a big meal at Mrs. Elder’s (now the Cosy  Cottage), costing two shillings, before heading home again on the same day to Newtowncunningham, making a round 70 mile cycle ride in one day.

There’s many a stage in the Tour De France that is less than that.

It must have been great craic if people were happy to cycle that distance just to watch.

Sailing and Rowing

In those days it was sailing Foyle punts and Drontheims rather than yachts that took place on the Regatta weekend – till the Portrush men came along in their yachts.

There were lots of Foyle punts and Drontheim rowing races.

There were races with one man, two men, a man and a women and one for schoolboys.

There wasn’t a race for solo women (or schoolgirls).

Presumably it was thought that it wasn’t safe enough for a woman to go out on her own.

Five-a-Side Football

There were 5-a-side football teams from Carndonagh, Malin, Buncrana, Greencastle and several from Moville along with other teams from other local areas.

There was no dominant team as different teams won each time.

There was prize money for the athletes who won the races (making them professionals in the days of amateur athletics). There was also prize money for the five-a-side football.

Athletics Races

There were athletics races over 100 yards, 200 yards, 400 yards, 800 yards and a mile that my father can remember.

There were also races for women too.

I presume it was thought that running was safe enough for them.

There were no field events.

Two Day Moville Regatta

It would have been great to have been there on Regatta weekend with people coming from all over the places just to be at Moville’s Regatta.

In those it was a two-day Regatta.

It was on during the Monday of the Bank Holiday Weekend and the Tuesday.

It wasn’t on during the Saturday and Sunday.

It wasn’t on the Saturday then as people were generally working. They did six days a week then.

It wasn’t on during the Sunday as this was the Sabbath.

Those were the glory days of the Moville Regatta.

It would be great to see it revived to its glory days again.

As told by Gerry McLaughlin senior (89) to Gerry McLaughlin junior, the CraicOn Moville editor.