Chariots Of Ire



Ireland’s Sulky Racers,

This Thursday on RTÉ2 at 9pm

A one hour documentary [directed by Martin Danneels] “offering a unique insight into one of Ireland’s most fascinating sub-cultures”.

Anne Louise Foley writes:

Scorned by media and the mainstream, Ireland’s Sulky Racers care deeply about their ‘coloured’ horses; yet they race on the wild side, illegally, on Sundays at dawn, on dual carriageways blocked off to traffic. The sport and the personalities that drive it have never before been the subject of a television documentary. Until now.

These passionate horsemen race their light-weight traps – sulkies – at startling speeds. When one owner challenges another, his horse’s reputation is at stake. So too are thousands of Euro.

Following a group of owners and drivers based in counties Dublin, Meath, Clare and Limerick, Ireland’s Sulky Racers shows the extremes that these complex and compelling individuals will go to in order to prepare their piebald for race day.


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53 thoughts on “Chariots Of Ire

  1. Woof

    “These passionate horsemen race their light-weight traps – sulkies – at startling speeds” with “thousands of euro at stake”, and smash their horses’ stifles to smithereens because they do it on hard tarmac roads.
    If they did it on soft running tracks that wouldn’t harm their horses, it would be fine. Not like this.

  2. Joe

    And when they kill a horse while racing they just dump it on the side of the road… Yeah, a real passion and love of animals.

    1. Dόn Pídgéόní

      Just like other horse racers then. It’s a cruel sport that more often than not ends with a bullet in the head.

      1. Mani

        It’s true. I’ve had to euthanise a few jockey’s in my time, and it’s not pleasant. They’ll go on and on about how it’s ‘not necessary’, crying and so forth but really it’s the best thing for them.

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            People who read or link to the Mail are helping bring down Western civilization. Worse than IS.

          2. Joe

            Okay, some other sources instead…





  3. Prop Joe

    Showing this in a positive light is incredibly stupid.
    I hope animal rights groups plague RTE for this.

    1. Neilo

      I’d prefer if animal welfare groups got involved: the animal ‘rights’ lobby gives me the screaming abdabs…

  4. phil

    If you find yourself liking the documentary and have a warm feeling for or being mildly impressed by some of the characters , but yet you develop a small case of rage for unknown reasons….

    That would be due to racist tendancies you have , but fear not, its probably your upbringing and is just something you need to work on over time….

    1. ahjayzis

      Hang on, whether you like the kids involved or not, I’m racist for getting angry at illegal, dangerous activities they’re engaged in? I need to *support* racing a horse down the dual carriageway in order to not be racist now, father? Seriously?

      Supporting something travellers do that you would deplore settled people doing IS racism you jibbering imbecile.

      1. Truth Told

        Well said, ahjayzis. Virtue signalling par excellence from phil, as would be expected on such a topic. Nobody gives a poo if they have their races in a proper setting, it’s the blatant disregard for the law that’s the problem.

  5. Conor

    Jesus the pain those horses must be going through running on solid tarmac. It’s the culture sure.

    Oh and not to mention drivers being dangerously forced off the road because of this carry on.

    1. phil

      I’m 40 yrs old this year, Most traveler men are dead by the age of 40… I think it would a fair rule to say , people first , animals close second …

      1. ahjayzis

        So… their lives are short, let them have a bit of extra-legal, unsafe fun, or?

        What the hell is your point in these posts? Don’t criticise anything a traveller does, because they have it hard, even when they’re in the wrong and endangering people?

        1. All the good ones fly south for winter

          They have short lives. They are in many case the opposite of Elves.

        1. Anomanomanom

          They choose to live in a way that causes that static. I can not see why it’s relative to any talk on travellers. Where’s all the stats to show how much wealth the have which should increase their life expectancy.

  6. Spaghetti Hoop

    No time for sulkies, their drivers or their stupid races.
    What road tax do these people pay?
    Do they go around scooping up after their animals?
    Only yesterday I saw one of them dismount, run up to a car in traffic, open the door and bate the sh!te out of the driver. There were a few loose horses and an abandoned trap in the middle of the road which made for some creative driving. Lovely.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        fec – I got into trouble about that before here. Ok yes Mick, ‘road tax’ does not exist and only motorised veh-i-cles pay motor tax. Not all road-users contribute towards their upkeep and not all follow the rules of the road.

  7. Supercrazyprices

    Instead of being openly sectarian towards Travelling people, I will indirectly judge them by focusing on the welfare of the horses. That way, I can perpetuate the Irish hostility towards Travellers without being accused of it. It’s middle class discrimination – say it without saying it.

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          Your point was that people hide their animosity for Travellers by dwelling on animal welfare.
          My point was that scumbag behaviour is universal.
          Explain how I prove your point?

    1. Woof

      I’ll quite directly judge anyone from any background who harms animals. I had a beloved pet that was scarred from the ill-treatment of the well-off Foxrock family that had it before me. Believe me, I judged them.

  8. Mister Mister

    Look at the poor travellers, what a hard life they have.

    Looking at the top photo it seems they can only afford BMWs, 3 in that pic, a VW Toerag (I think), what looks like it might be a Toyota Landcruiser behind it, an Avensis (probably the cheapest car in that photo) and a relatively new VW, Golf or Passat.

    The state really needs to put its hands deeper into its pockets to fund their lifestyle and help the poor cratures.

    1. Anomanomanom

      Iv drank with travellers for years in a pub in Dublin 8, it’s now closed, but never once did I see the men with less than a few hundred euro in their pockets. Never any trouble with them, but the notion they’ve no money and need help is laughable.

    2. Supercrazyprices

      Why shouldn’t Travellers own expensive cars?

      There’s plenty of money in the jobs stuck up little wannabe D4 types won’t do. If you bothered your ass calling around to houses collecting scrap metal and selling it to yards, you’d make quite a bit of money. But no, you’d be too embarrassed to do that. Too much of a snob.

      1. Anomanomanom

        First off I’m a long way off D4. And how much tax on earnings is paid and how much of that money from scrap is left to clean up the area that’s wrecked when they just up sticks and move. I know it’s not all of them but in my dealings it’s most who are the actual stereotype traveller you seem to think doesn’t exist.

  9. Mister Mister

    Aren’t you feisty one.

    LOL, yessir, Calling around houses collecting scrap metal, That’s how it’s done.

  10. Laughter Tack.

    This is why I love living in Kerry.

    I avoid seeing this illegal annoyance.

    The gardai are a joke.

    In a normal country roadblocks would be setup. Cars confiscated, horses confiscated, fines, jail. Like that the number plates are blocked. “Documentary” makers should be brought on by the gardai.

    Culture my bottom.

  11. Liam from Lixnaw

    i don’t get the culture and heritage angle they spout – I never remember sulky racing on open roads when i was younger –

  12. Bingo

    Ah but ‘Laughter Tack’ & ‘Liam From Lixnaw’, ye boys are from Kerry (as am I).
    Our roads are too bendy and winding for this activity!
    Regarding the Sulkies, these animals are being mistreated by having them run on roads.

  13. TomRed

    Truth is rarely the easy option.
    If this ‘sport’ is so popular, why do they race on dirt tracks in other countries?
    Also, if they’re using their cars as part of this ‘sport’, surely that would invalidate most insurance policies?

  14. Tom Carty

    Racing on the open road is dangerous, and blocking the traffic is not a good option. There should be use of racecourses for these races, it is a sport, but in the proper venue, or like a car rally an organised road shut down.

    But as most Trotters are Travellers, there will be zero co-operation from authorities with these.

    Some animals do die during the races, akin to normal horse racing. Maybe they were driven too hard, maybe there was other factors. Education is the way through this, not regualtion.

    Open the prosepct of races during normal hours, on a road shut down for the event, with entry fees that will cover the costs involved. Participants sign or mark disclaimer stating participation is at their own risk so council has no liability for people or animals getting hurt. Those who wish to watch should sign same if they stand at dangerous location.

    We do it for bike enthusiasts, why not trotters?

Comments are closed.

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