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The Curragh


The Curragh

Ireland’s most important Thoroughbred racecourse for flat racing, The Curragh, is currently undergoing a major redevelopment project which will be completed in time for the 2019 racing season.

Designed by Grimshaws, in association with Newenham Mulligan & Associates, the new Curragh will see the creation of world class multi-purpose facilities on a par with the best anywhere in the world. The centrepiece of the redevelopment will see the creation of a major new grandstand which will incorporate five star corporate facilities, restaurants, bars and superb viewing facilities for the public.

A new arrivals and reception area will incorporate a brand new visitor attraction incorporating a museum to celebrate the history of racing in Ireland and the contribution Ireland has made to the sport worldwide. A new parade ring will ensure that more patrons can share in the excitement and build up to the racing. A new weigh room will provide even better facilities for the jockeys.

The new venue will respect both the great heritage of the Curragh and the importance of celebrating the unique landscape of the Curragh plains, whilst retaining the intimate and distinctive character of the existing racecourse grounds. The project is currently making good progress and will be completed for the 2019 racing season.

Premier Hospitality recently spoke to Kirsten Lees, partner at Grimshaws, to discuss some of main aspects of the work:

“The Curragh is a very special place. Set within extensive natural grasslands, with expansive views and undulating plains, this unique landscape provides a beautiful and unique setting. What we wanted to do was create a design that was sympathetic to the landscape. Our proposal is defined by the dramatic horizontal plane of the grandstand roof that ‘hovers’ above the grandstand terraces, which rise out of the ground as an extension of the landscape. We wanted our interiors to really marry and match the architecture but also showcase what is such an amazing and beautiful site.

“Another key issue for us conceptually was how the design could flex between a regular racing meet of 3-5000 people to Derby Day with up to 20,000 people. The grounds have been carefully designed to ensure that in each mode there will be a vibrant atmosphere. The grassy mound which acts as an extension to the grandstand accommodates the greater number of racing patrons on Derby Day without the terraces feeling overly big for the smaller racing meets.

“While the grandstand forms the centrepiece and identity of the future Curragh, the places and spaces set between and around the buildings that make up the racing experience are equally important. The entrance has been moved to the rear of the stand meaning that on arrival visitors are immediately immersed in the buzz and excitement of the event with the parade ring in the foreground and views to the racetrack beyond.”

Kirsten added:

“For us, this has been an amazing project to work on. From the beginning we had a very clear vision about what we wanted to achieve with this project and what’s exciting for us is that this essence has remained true all the way through.”

The Curragh has long been recognised to be one of the best racetracks in the world. Every year it is home to Ireland’s five Classics – the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the Irish Oaks, the Irish Derby and the Irish St Leger.


Nature Play Ireland Ltd

Nature Play Ireland Ltd specialise in the design of natural landscaped areas for children and the supply and installation and outdoor play equipment for projects throughout Ireland. The company has been in operation for nine years and within this time has delivered innovative playgrounds across various sectors, for many leading main contractors, as well as private & municipal clients.

Over the years, Nature Play Ireland Ltd has worked on some truly outstanding schemes including the Ballyliffin SSSI project, St Columbs Park in Derry and Castle Tower School in Ballymena. Described as a “wonderful project” by Nature Play Managing Director, Harry Harbottle, the team at Nature Play Ireland Ltd worked with the teachers at Castle Tower School for two years before work began, in order to fully understand and meet the requirements of all the pupils.

Most recently, Nature Play Ireland Ltd has been involved with the work on The Curragh Racecourse project. Working on this scheme, Nature Play Ireland Ltd delivered a fantastic children’s playground complete with houses, slides, a mound and a challenging climbing structure.

Nature Play Ireland Ltd MD, Harry Harbottle, said:

“It is great to be involved in big projects such as this one at The Curragh Racecourse, where on a race day up to 40,000 people will see children enjoying our work. So it was pleasing to directly supervise this installation working with the contractors to ensure a top quality finish.”

Harry added:

“With everything we do we always start from the basis that play value comes first – it’s not just about selling equipment, it’s about making great spaces for children. We operate in a very sustainable way, either environmentally through the choice of materials we use or from a business standpoint through the way we form relationships with our clients. Sometimes this might mean that some jobs are not suitable for us, but that’s fine as we always look for clients that share our values.”


John Sisk & Son

John Sisk & Son is a large scale construction company operating in the UK, Ireland and Europe. Established in 1859, the company has grown to be the largest general contractor in Ireland.

John Sisk & Son has worked on a number of prestigious projects including a number of landmark building in Dublin and across Ireland. The company recently completed work on the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Sisk is also currently building the new International Convention Centre at Celtic Manor in Wales, a major hospitality and leisure project.

In addition to work as a main contractor, John Sisk & Son has completed civil projects such the Luas light rail tram system in Dublin and the railway part of the business carries out maintenance across the UK.

As main contractor for the ongoing Curragh Racecourse redevelopment, John Sisk & Son is responsible for constructing the new grandstand and hospitality facilities, as well as creating a new entrance way and a museum. The work has included a number of innovative elements. Tom Byrne, Head of Communications at Sisk explained:

“We have been working with our supply chain to develop a way of using precast concrete in a way that minimises the use of temporary works. There is as little propping or temporary support as possible because the precast pieces effectively slot into each other. That’s been a smart and innovative solution which has saved us time and money.

“The other thing that we have done, and we think it’s the first in Ireland, is a combination of BIM and virtual reality. We’ve created a virtual reality model where you can effectively put on a headset and walk through the project. This allows us to identify any clashes between different elements of the building and get a real feel for how the building works in three dimensions.”

Tom added:

“At Sisk, we take pride in quality and excellence. The company was established in 1859 and we’ve always prided ourselves on delivering and getting the job done. That’s mainly as a result of our people. We put a lot of time, effort and investment into people. We have our own training centre here in Dublin, for example for our carpenters and joiners. We spend a lot of time and effort engaging, training and supporting people at every level in terms of their own personal development.”

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