The races still continue but on New Years Day and the course has changed to from the old creamery to Ballycomne. One of the last road raes in West cork.
Always a day of great reelry.
The former Bandon Arms Hotel owned by Dick Philips only opened on the day to preserve its licence. That licence was one of those which went to open the West Lodge Hotel in Bantry in the early 1970s.
Dr. Levis, Durrus.
Dr. Wood Levis MD Doctor, Durrus. Wood Levis M.D. Father of Violet Elizabeth Levis b 1889, qualified Edinburgh surgeon and physician “Dr John Wood Levis (trained Edinburgh) 1901, died 1913 after 26 years service in Durrus. In 1894 he was submitting reports to the Bantry Union warning of the danger of fever in Durrus the village pump had been sent to Perrots in Cork for repair and five months later w The village was taking its water form the river which was polluted with the sewage of the village and dead dogs and cats. He applied for a salary increase in 1904, he had been receiving £100 with £10 as of Health, at the time the nurse’s salary was £30. In 1910 together with T Shannon, Brahalish he was an assentor to James Gilhooley MP. 1895 Durrus The Steeplechase was over Philip’s land in Rusheenaniska and included Dr Levis as a rider, he was noted horseman. Durrus Regatta was advertised in August 1893 and 1894 and in 1902 the regatta was held on Wednesday the 27th August. The committee consisted of the Catholic clergy and the Minister together with Dr Levis, to the flag boat where Dr Levis was the judge.
Held on New Year’s Day, cancelled due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in England in 1967. The Races are advertised as the ‘Durrus Races and Athletic Sports’ from the early 1890s. The 1895 races featured trotting matches, athletic sports, a steeplechase and a bicycle race and were held on Stephen’s Day. The Steeplechase was over Philip’s land in Rusheenaniska and included Dr Levis as a rider, he was noted horseman. The road race was from the Sand Quay to Mr Dulelow’s gate in Brahalish (Red Cliff) and back a distance of 6 miles. William Dukelow died returning from Durrus Races 26th December 1896. He had been walking around Coísín, near the bridge in Bahalish when he was struck by a man with a horse. At that time there was no wall and he fell into the sea. The family were searching for him. jack Dukelow, Brahalish He had a sidecar which the family did not use after his death. In earlier years he would have a horse racing at Durrus Races on Stephen’s Day. The same year in a case in Bantry in January 1926 it was stated that the Gardai in Durrus had drawn batons in an altercation after the Races and an action for assault against the gardai was thrown out by the Court and the offending persons were convicted of being drunk and disorderly. Political excitement was provided by a new political party ‘Clann Na Poblachta’. They campaigned for the 1948 election with an address after the Races on Stephens Day 1947. Shaun Dillon of Clashadoo had inherited licensed premises and house property from his aunts near the railway station in Bantry and for a period this was a centre of political gathering for the new party. Fine Gael started a branch in Durrus in 1947 under Timothy Hurley. Fianna Fail used the opportunity afforded by losing the election of February 1948 to regroup and Sean Lemass addressed an after Mass meeting in Durrus on the 29th May 1949.
1950 Durrus Races
Photo tall man 2nd from left a Coughlan of Schull descendant on leave from US Forces in Germany.
In the post famine era there was despondency and mass emigration. By the 1870s athletics became very popular and the school’s folklore project has many references to races, weight throwing and events in Kilcrohane and Ahakista. It was common for people to cross Dunmanus Bay for events on the other side or to meet half-way in Carbery Island. From KIlcrohane there was also traffic across Bantry Bay to Bere Island to dances. The older people have stories of weight throwing of the half-hundred in the village in the 20s and 30s of the last century, with relations of Danno Mahony, Eugene Sullivan, Crotees and Jack Burke Coomkeen involved. John (Jack) McSweeney DMG, Moulivard, was in the War of Independence later in the Free State Army in the Gardai where he was a well known detective in Dublin. In earlier days he a runner-up in the hammer throwing contests in the British Empire Games. Ireland was represented as one country in these games which started in 1930. Michael Hurley, Ballycomane organised athletics in the 30s, and there was the odd meeting in Ahakista for inter parish games. Jim Roycroft, The Gap Mount Gabriel, later a County Councillor and grand father in law of the former Ceann Comháirle, John O’Donoghue was a noted athlete in the late 1930s. Another noted athlete was Dan Dinneen.
Noel Hickey, whose father Pat had a pub in the village was a champion athlete and often competed on behalf of Presentation College which he attended against Finbarr O’Sullivan Gearhameen who was in Farranferris (the Diocesan college) at the time, he had earlier attended Mr. J.P. Harte’s Academy in Dunmanway 1940 staying with a relation and working on the bog for the summer. He was later attached to the Cork Drapers Athletic Club and competed in Kilcrohane in 1947 when Danno Mahony and his brothers Florrie and Dermot were present. Kilcrohane saw the start of Danno’s career in 1930. Noel was offered a sports scholarship to Villa Nova University in the US. Finbarr O’Sullivan’s father Denis was a noted athlete and was known as ‘Dinny the Runner’. Sean O’Donnell from the village and his brother Larry (later National School Teacher, Bishopstown Cork) were noted athletes as was George Shanahan, Dunbeacon.