Denny Cordell Community Race Day at Gowran Park, Kilkenny

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THE life and times of Denny Cordell-Lavarack, music producer and racehorse trainer and breeder was celebrated at the Community Race Day in Gowran Park, Kilkenny recently (Saturday, 21st September). While lightening flashed and thunder crashed over the washed out racecourse and the annual fixture in its 24th year was eventually abandoned, around 150 people were in the DC Lounge, warm and dry with plenty of wine and good food, much of it prepared by Guinness family chef Eileen Byrne.

Julian Waysa, Violet Ogden and her daughter Nancy Bell at the Denny Cordell Community Race Day in Gowran Park, Kilkenny

“Everyone likes coming down and celebrating, crushing a cup of wine and celebrating the strength and the blood of our families, all of us together,” said Finbarr Cordell, son of the late producer of singles by The Moody Blues and Leon Russell. “I would like to think that he would be looking down and smiling over the festivities that normally transpire.”

Stephen O’Neill, Tadhg Byrne, Finbar Cordell, David Quinn, Laura Daly, Lisa McCarroll, Donica O’Mahony, Grace Healy, Dougal and Dana McFarland at the Denny Cordell Community Race Day in Gowran Park, Kilkenny

During a career that ended with his death at the age of 51, Denny Cordell set up his own record label in the US and launched music greats including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Joe Cocker.

He got into horseracing when he returned to Ireland, rising to Group 3 and meanwhile bringing along the likes of The Frames and Glen Hansard and The Cranberries.

Guinness family chef Eileen Byrne (left) and Honor Fitzgerald, daughter of the late Desmond Fitzgerald Knight of Glynn

“When he moved back to Ireland he started back into the music business as well,” said younger brother Andrew Cordell in remembering his brother’s life. “He was involved in bringing forward the likes of The Cranberries, The Frames and out of The Frames obviously Glen Hansard. When he died he had actually started a new business to specifically promote Irish bands.”

The Community Race Day in memory of Denny Cordell was organised jointly by his partner, Marina Guinness and Violet Ogden, the daughter she shares with renowned photographer Perry Ogden.

Marina Guinness, Andrew Cordell and Esther Anderson at the Denny Cordell Race Day in Gowran Park, Kilkenny

On the guest list was Honor Fitzgerald, daughter of the late Desmond Fitzgerald Knight of Glynn and Esther Anderson, the Jamaican-born award-winning actress credited with roles in The Avengers and The Rookies TV series and for introducing reggae to the North American market and from there, the world.

Kim Mullahey

Kim Mullahey is’s Ireland Correspondent. She holds an honours undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Chicago and has taught Adult Education Creative Writing Studies. Through a media career spanning nearly 25 years Kim has written and photographed regional news, national and international horse sports, fashion and lifestyle. Kim lives with her husband and son in Kildare Ireland, and a stray marmalade cat who has adopted the family.

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