Galway City Tribune - Opinion Piece
Chairman Tim set for love of his lifeJuly 26, 2012 - 8:45am
The Galway Races kick off on Monday and when the week-long festival finishes it brings to a close a steady five weeks of partying in the city.
Of course, the last day of the racing festival week doesn’t mean the end of fun in Galway, it just means the end of formal, organised fun for a few weeks until the oysters are celebrated in September.
And while everyone has their own favourite festival, Chairman of the Galway Race Committee, Tim Naughton obviously believes Race Week is the best event.
”Racing is the biggest sporting interest I have. It’s the love of my life. My three sisters and I were brought up to Ballybrit when we were children as my father was involved in the Races, so I suppose I grew up with it.”
Tim looks forward the most to the Galway Plate day though obviously as chairman of the Race Committee, he will be at the racecourse every day of the seven-day festival.
But he says he has in recent years cut down on the social side of the popular festival in order to pace himself.
“Margaret (Tim’s wife) and I get invited here, there and everywhere to dinner after the Races but we have cut down on a lot of that.”
He admits he is very proud of the improved facilities at Ballybrit and believes that Galway led the way for other racing festivals around the country.
“I believe we were one of the first racing festivals to have a Best Dressed Lady competition. Ours was started by the late Fergus Foley of The Blue Cloak and of course Anthony Ryans have built it up into the fantastic event that it is now.”
While fashion and style are not his forte he says, he appreciates how the Best Dressed event and Ladies Day opens out the festival to others and if anything the Galway Races have increasingly managed to attract racegoers across the board, young and old, to include serious punters and fun lovers.
“The committee was always led by local business people and I believe that is why the Galway Races have always been customer led. We have improved the facilities at Ballybrit over the years as a direct response to customer demand. When you run a shop you tend to be customer focused.”
He has high praise for the late Lord Killanin, who spearheaded the drive that made the Galway Races the success they are today. He says it was also a stroke of genius hiring a full-time manager/secretary at the racecourse. The first one was Captain Luke Mullins, currently it is John Maloney, whom Tim describes as a man who has transformed the festival.
“And of course, when we took on John, we got his wife Noreen as well, who is wonderful,” he recently said at the launch of this year’s programme for Galway Races.
He loves how Lord Killanin frowned upon corporate boxes and he always resisted that type of segregation. “What I love about Galway is that you don’t know who you will bump into, anyone from a Taoiseach to a celebrity from the entertainment world.”
A semi-retired businessman, Tim was a former city retailer or a shopkeeper as he says himself. He was the third generation in the Naughtons hardware and homeware business on Shop Street.
He is very proud of being a Galwayman. Both of his parents were born and reared in the city and all four grandparents came from the county. His mother, Nora’s parents, who had a shop in Eyre Square were Michael Newell and Mary Farragher, both from Annaghdown.
His father’s parents were Tim Naughton from Attymon and Margaret Keary from Woodford. Her family was involved in the Land War back in the 1880s. She was one of a large family so Tim has cousins all over the place, he says.
The only boy in the family, he knew he was always destined for the family business and was sent to do a B Comm to prepare for the future. He also took a BA in History and French.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.