Horse Racing History

How SteepleChasing Horse Racing Began In Ireland


The first ever recorded steeplechase horse race was from the Church Steeple in Buttevant to the Church Steeple in Doneraile, Co.Cork, Ireland.

This historic race later became known in the locality as the "Steeplechase" and then spread rapidly in Britain and Ireland. A legendary manuscript in the proud possession of  the O'Brien family of Dromoland, Buttevant, Co. Cork, Ireland, relates to a race finalised in 1752 as a direct result of a challenge negotiated between two local gentlemen.


The challenge was handed down to Cornelius O'Callaghan Esquire from Edmund  Blake Esquire to test their horse riding skills and the endurance of their respective horses, in a race to be conducted across country fields and over natural fences.


The race would commence at the steeple of St. John's church, Buttevant, Co. Cork, and finish at the steeple of St. Mary's church, Doneraile, Co. Cork, a distance of four and a half miles over natural country fences.

The stakes were raised and history was in creation on Irish soil in 1752.

A historic article in Bailey's Magazine - entitled Steeplechasing, published around 1820, records Cornelius O'Callaghan Esquire as the Champion of the Day.


He collected a fine purse of Irish guineas for his gallant victory. It is the proud heritage of the towns of Buttevant and Doneraile, Co. Cork, to claim the accolade of staging the first ever officially recorded steeplechase event in the world.       


The Co. Cork town of Buttevant, has hosted the annual Cahirmee Horse Fair for over 200 years.