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The Galway Races is an Irish horse-racing festival that starts on the last Monday of July every year. Held at Ballybrit Racecourse in Galway, Ireland over seven days, it is one of the longest of all the race meets that occur in Ireland.
The first racing festival held in Ballybrit was a two-day event with the first race meeting on Tuesday, 17 August 1869. The summer festival was extended to a 3-day meeting in 1959, 4 days in 1971, 5 days in 1974, 6 days in 1982 and, most recently to, 7 days in 1999. The summer festival is the highlight of the business year for most local businesses as crowds and horses flock from all over the world to attend one of the world's biggest race meetings.
The pub underneath the Corrib Stand, built in 1955, was for many years the longest bar in the world. It was replaced by the Millennium Stand which opened in 1999. The Killanin Stand opened in 2007 replacing the old Corrib (west) Stand.
Additional race meetings also take place in September and October, but these are not as popular as the summer festival, which draws more than 150,000 spectators.
Thursday is traditionally the busiest and most stylish day of the week-long Galway Racing Festival. Ladies compete for the coveted title of Best Dressed Lady or Most Elegant Hat. See also Fascinator.
The Galway Races are the subject of At Galway Races, a poem by W. B. Yeats. They are also the subject of eponymous folk song, popularized by The Clancy Brothers, The Chieftains, and The Dubliners. The Celtic rock band, JSD Band played it on their album, Travelling Days. The song also appears on The Kreellers 2008 release, Sixth and Porter. Further, it constitutes the last third of the track Medley on the 1988 album If I Should Fall from Grace with God by The Pogues (the two first parts being The Recruiting Sergeant and an instrumental version of Rocky Road to Dublin).