Sun sets on Longford Greyhound Stadium

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Sun sets on Longford Greyhound Stadium

It's been 80 years since the Greyhound Stadium was established in Longford and, in that time, the track brought many joyful memories to generations of racing enthusiasts.

But over the years, rising overhead costs have caused difficulty for the local stadium and, following an insurance premium quote of almost double what was paid last year, the track had no choice but to announce its closure last week.

Longford Greyhound Stadium is the second track to announce plans to cease operation in the past week, with Lifford Stadium in Donegal making a similar announcement less than 48 hours before Longford.

"Longford has had a strong greyhound racing tradition for generations, with the track being a signature ‘schooling’ track for young greyhounds,” read a statement on the stadium's Facebook page.

“Many greyhounds and their connections have gone on to achieve great things in the industry after laying down their roots in Longford. We thank them for their participation and support over eight decades.”

The stadium employs two full time staff members but has a number of volunteers who work race nights and events, as well as tote staff. Two staff members will lose their jobs at the end of the month.

“Unfortunately it is a sad day,” track director Joe O'Rourke told the Longford Leader on Tuesday.

“We were left with no choice at the end. The backing wasn’t there from the Irish Greyhound Board.”

In a statement to the Longford Leader on Tuesday afternoon, the IGB noted the announcement that Longford Greyhound Stadium is to cease operation at the end of August.

Read also: Longford Greyhound Stadium announces its closure

“The IGB very much regrets the closure of Longford Greyhound Stadium and its wider impact on staff, owners and the greyhound community,” an IBG spokesperson revealed.

“The IGB wishes to acknowledge the excellent work done over a long period of time by all those at the track as part of the wider greyhound industry fraternity.

“Support has been provided by the IGB to Longford and other private tracks for a long period of time during significant economic, social and cultural challenges for the industry. The particular challenges facing Longford at this time are recognised and the basis of the company’s decision is fully understood.”

There has been a huge outpouring of sadness in the county and among the wider greyhound community with hundreds of people taking to social media to share their memories of the stadium over the past several decades.

“Everybody is in a state of mourning,” Joe O'Rourke explained.

“I don't think people thought it would ever go, but we've been left with no choice. It is a sad day.”

Read also: End of an era for Longford Greyhound Stadium