Nestled in the glorious countryside of Southern Ireland sits the Curragh Racecourse. Initially founded in the coffee rooms of Kildare, the Irish Turf Club was quickly established as the governing body for horse racing throughout Ireland. The first recorded race on the plain took place in 1727 and now Curragh (from the Irish name ‘Cuirreach’ meaning ‘place of the running horse’) is home to Ireland’s five classic races.
The Curragh site has recently undergone a 65 million Euro redevelopment project across its entirety. Works carried out included the stable yard (featuring 135 stables) and the building of a brand new grandstand with a spectacular sweeping roof. Covering 10,500 square metres the new grandstand can cater for up to 6,000 people within its four levels. In fact, the site as a whole, has an incredible crowd capacity of 30,000 – which is a typical number for events such as Derby Day!
Visitor enjoyment and responsible ‘crowd’ control during any event at Curragh are equally important to the site owners and managers. Therefore all aspects of this were to be considered carefully during the planning stage of the redevelopment. Ensuring an event at Curragh is a pleasurable experience takes a lot of thought and care. Aspects such as creating the right atmosphere for the different areas and ensuring that everyone can hear race commentaries and announcements, all form part of the overall impression of the day’s event. Taking great lengths to provide all visitors with a memorable day is likely to encourage them to return again in the future.
To carry out the works required, a selection of top consultants were selected for the different aspects of communication throughout the site. Dublin based, Sound Productions Ltd was chosen to design and commission the PA/VA and EVC, as well as the TV and other audio distribution systems required for the Curragh buildings and surrounding grounds.
The brief to Sound Productions was to supply a flexible multi-zone audio and voice alarm system with top quality audio. The specification was for a complex zone arrangement, with multiple audio inputs from broadcast companies, live commentary, background music and TV audio distribution. This included the requirement for a 98dB sound level trackside, with absolute intelligibility throughout all areas (including those with high reverberation). For this, a high-quality PA/VA system was needed. It was imperative that these works were delivered on schedule, with ‘quality’ to be considered as the prevailing factor, without exception, throughout the project.
The PA/VA system was to be delivered over two phases – the first one being the system rack for the Parade Ring; the second to be the New Grandstand, including two main Baldwin Boxall PA/VA VIGIL control racks delivering power to a network of EN54 certified loudspeakers. The specification for VIGIL to be the PA/VA system for Curragh was due to Baldwin Boxall’s renowned reputation for product quality and reliability, as well as the company’s excellent track record for the delivery of large projects.
Now fully installed and operational, the PA/VA system is equipped to cater for up to 24 analogue and 32 digital audio channels all distributed to over 50 zones. Multi-zone general paging is also delivered using Baldwin Boxall’s BVRDTSM touch screen microphones along with BFM series microphones for emergency purposes.
The project’s requirement for disabled refuge call points has been fulfilled by the installation of Baldwin Boxall’s OmniCare EVC system, which is controlled via a 16-way control panel situated in the Security Room.
Commenting, Peadar Carley, Project Engineer, Sound Productions said “We are delighted to have been involved with such an amazing project. We have a long-standing professional relationship with Mercury Engineering (the project electrical contractors), who share our ethos of being very particular with detail and passionate about providing the best quality. To know that we were chosen due to our ability to deliver large, complex systems and for our audio knowledge, makes us very proud indeed.”
When asked about Baldwin Boxall, Peadar continued, “We have been buying, installing and commissioning Baldwin Boxall products for very many years – over 30 in fact. The systems just keep on going – they really are robust! But it is not only for this reason that we return to Baldwin Boxall repeatedly, but also because of the support we can get from them. They know their stuff, are easy to deal with and I recommend them without hesitation.”