Dublin horse cabs are still around today, notably around the Guinness factory and storehouse area, but on presenting a few of them a couple of pics of the cab derby that used to take place, it was evident that many were unaware of such a thing. In the 1930’s and 40’s, to alleviate hard times for the cabbies and their horses, an annual cab derby took place in the Phoenix Park between Christmas and the new year. Citizens provided monetary prizes, tobacco, gloves, and rugs and oats for the horses as prizes. Every cabman got a bag of bran and a £1 note as a general rule. The Lord Mayor of Dublin Alfie Byrne(the shaking hand of Dublin!) presided over the committee and up to 100 horse cabs would race around the Gough statue in the park. One of the yearly winners was Patrick Sarsfield(winning £2 10s and an overcoat), from 5 Lower Kevin Street who had a lock-up on Liberty Lane nearby, but participants at the time were from all areas of dublin such as Ringsend, Sandymount, Bow Lane, North Brunswick St. etc.
In 1943 the cab derby was postponed as it clashed with the Baldoyle races which were often a good source of fares from many racegoers and indeed was the choice of travel of participants in the later famous “Battle of Baldoyle” which mad James “Lugs Branigan” famous/notorious whichever way you look at it. The cessation of the annual event may have been directly related to fate of the equestrian statue(by Dubliner JP Foley) it evolved around, that of Viscount Gough, as there then began several attacks on it. It was beheaded at christmas in 1944 and his sword was sawn off, but the head was found in the Liffey a year later. It was eventually blown up by the IRA in the 1950’s.
Here’s some footage from 1940 with the Lord Mayor presenting prizes.