Brendan Duke: I’ve had a crash course in country culture for Killarney

Brendan's put in the hard yards - of porter by the sounds of it - to get ready for a trip to Kerry. Let's hope he's taken in all that valuable research...


Greetings from Killarney. This dispatch comes to you on the third day of a cultural tour. The track itself often gets mentioned, along with Cheltenham and Santa Anita, as one of the most picturesque in the world. The mountain backdrop is a stunner in fairness but a week away from Dublin isn’t without its challenges.

I rarely leave the house if it can be avoided and trips beyond the Pale are few and far between. Luckily this trip was booked a couple of months ago so in consultation with a friend we came up with a plan to prepare me for life outside my comfort zone. As a famed son of Cork once said, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. A type of altitude training I suppose, it involved trips to remote locations relatively close to home.

First up, a mountain escape. We hiked to the hills of Dublin. High above the big schmoke I tasted clean air and cleaner ale. Further experiences included fine stout, Dubs who think they’re culchies, people affected by mountain air, blocked chimneys, sawdust and spectacular views of the city.

Survive any racing trek with’s odds

Phase one complete, we ventured further afield, taking in a slant of the Wicklow way dreamt up by my amigo. A fundraising night of bingo and banter in the Arklow Geraldines clubhouse was an unmissable opportunity. There was also a raffle in aid of the club. Tickets cost €5 or in a special promotion the opportunity to purchase 10 tickets for €50 was available. All drinks were €7 and guaranteed to be one of the first out of the barrel.

Further experiences included detailed conversations with long serving clubmen in a GAA stronghold, dirty taps and free entry to the 2019 Geraldines sports quiz.

Due to time constraints we couldn’t take in any more away missions but I received a cheat sheet (see below) which, if stuck to rigidly, should see me fully integrate with my country cousins.

1. Essentially the locals aren’t used to the sockless, tight trouser wearing, slick haired young men from the capital. Wearing clothes to the pub that you wouldn’t be willing to do a days work in is frowned upon. Sporting colours that should only be seen in flower arrangements is another no-no. They’re folk who enjoy the simpler pleasures, such as local GAA, pre-2000’s Natinal Hunt racing and the plight of the tillage and livestock farmers in the absence of summer rain.

2. Chip and pin is a Dublin phenomenon. Please bring cash to avoid disappointment.

3. Don’t sit at the bar. While the seats may appear empty to the untrained eye, in reality they’re pillars of a hierarchical system that has probably lasted generations. You would be better off standing, or, in extreme cases of sore feet, the lounge is always available.

The Irish Oaks is the week’s highlight. Magic Wand is a worthy favourite, but there doesn’t appear to be massive juice in the price at the moment. Unfortunately Remmy D couldn’t oblige in the 7pm at Killarney on Monday. He should have had the run of the race at 5/1 looked a more than fair price but it was not to be.

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What do you think?