I don’t think if I am betraying any North Kerry secrets if I tell you that I’m not sure that the crowds who go to the races, do so for the actual racing. Ok, you have the die-hards, the flutterers, the horsey crowd, but if you’re in North Kerry the third week in September, you’re heading to the races.

My first year here, I thought there might be a gambling epidemic in North Kerry that I was previously unaware of; even the most unassuming of people would ask me if I’d "have any day at the races?" I don’t really know one end of a horse from another, I might offer in response, and my questioner would shake their head at the ignorance of this poor blow-in. She’ll learn yet.

The races it appears are a state of mind here, a reason to get out the nice frock, uncomfortable heels and brave the Bog road for a nice parking space. You’ll have the second cut in, the gates painted, hay in if you’ve chanced it and, if God is very good, a field reseeded. You’ll have earned your day out. Was there any share there? Who did you meet? For you’ll always meet someone, dissect the year, curse the weather and tut at the bad luck you had when your placed bet is still running around the course two races later.

And then, for the week that’s in it, they’ll ask "can they do it? Can Eamonn and the boys bring Sam back two years in a row? Are you going up? Have you got a ticket?" The suit from the races hardly aired, they don their green and gold or Sunday jumper and head for the Dublin road en masse.

Listowel races are a rite of passage for our own young boys, dressed in a shirt and tie, off to look at the horses and then coerce their parents onto the Big Wheel overlooking the whole of North Kerry in its harvest glory. Over the crowds in the race course, the horses racing around the track, the town waiting for the crowds to disperse and head up the street, looking to where the milk trucks carry our milk to the ‘Big Creamery’ and further afield to all the sheds with black bales piled up alongside. The tractors are for the most part parked up; the work appears for the most part to be done teaching our little Kerrymen how to work, rest and play.