Greyhound Racing Ireland (GRI) has announced a partnership with elderly persons charity Alone to organise a nationwide open event at Irish racecourses in memory of COVID-19 victims.
Members of the public will be given free admission to the event, which has been titled “Ag Rásaíocht Le Chéile” (‘Racing Together’), although racegoers have been encouraged to purchase a €2 programme, the proceeds of which will support Alone’s work in highlighting the issues faced by elderly people living alone.
“COVID-19 has been particularly impactful on the lives of older people and we hope the free race events will provide a much-needed social outlet for members of the local communities in which we operate,” explained Interim GRI Chief Executive Philip Peake, who will be replaced by Dearbhla O’Brien in a permanent position in January.
“Ag Rásaíocht Le Chéile is very much about providing people, particularly the elderly and those living alone, a great night out at the races after having spent much of the past 18 months with few social outlets available to them. It’s been a tough time for everyone, and it is important that GRI recognises the incredible national effort to fight the virus, protect lives and to ensure the safe reopening of society.”
“We look forward to welcoming families, couples and individuals who may be going to the races for the first time as well as those who will be returning to greyhound racing for the first time since stadia were closed in 2020.”
Ten greyhound racing stadiums across Ireland will host the event, with a minute’s silence taking place before each evening’s racecard in memory of those who suffered from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The schedule will see the free races take place on 12 November at Dublin’s Shelbourne Bark, as well as the venues at Tralee, Galway, Newbridge and Kilkenny, whilst Saturday night will see meetings at Mullingar, Dundalk, Limerick, Waterford and Cork.
“Alone would like to thank GRI for its wonderful support for our organisation following what has been an extremely difficult period for older people,” remarked Sean Moynihan, CEO of Alone.
“The pandemic has presented many challenges and undoubtedly has enhanced the negative impact of social isolation on older people’s health and wellbeing. The upcoming race nights provide a great opportunity for a social evening, and we want to especially invite everyone to consider bringing an older relative, neighbour or friend along on the night that they may not have seen in a while.”