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A Very Irish Coup

On a Sunday morning in October 1978 news began to filter through that, the previous night at a greyhound track, the bookies had been taken to the cleaners. A quiet local betting coup saw bookies faced with paying out odds of almost 1000 to 1. (2020)

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3.3/5 (222 ratings)

Documentary Maker: Conor Keane

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Documentary Maker: Donal O'Herlihy

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A Very Irish Coup

On the morning of Sunday, 22nd October 1978, the nation awoke to news that simply didn't make sense. The country’s bookies had been beaten.

A group of friends from Listowel in Co Kerry and Abbeyfeale in Co Limerick had spotted a way of manipulating the betting system into believing that a racing greyhound was so poor it could give odds of almost 1000/1 on him. The dog was in fact one of the finest in the country. The bookies had been taken for a ride.

It remains among the biggest betting coups in the history of Irish gambling.

That group of friends became known as the South of Ireland Gang. The dog was named Ballydonnell Sam.

A Very Irish Coup tells how two friends had been at a dog track one night and spotted a flaw in the system. They went for a drink at a local pub to discuss it and within five days had a daring plan ready for execution. It involved punters, former bookies and ordinary people in "respectable" jobs more than willing to try their hand at beating the system.

A Very Irish Coup hears from members of the South of Ireland Gang, foot soldiers in the coup and investigating police for the first time recounting the story of the plan to bamboozle the bookies.

Narrated by Conor Keane

Produced by Conor Keane & Donal O’Herlihy

First broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1, Saturday 29th of August, 2020 at 1PM

Repeated RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday 30th of August, 2020 at 7PM

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries

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