Barney Curley Documentary: He was the brains of the most successful Irish betting operation in history. RTÉ One will broadcast a new documentary tomorrow night, four months after the death of Barney Curley, in which he recounts his own tale in his own words.
The show is the idea of James Bray, a former Newsnight producer who is also a racehorse owner who has been eager to tell Curley’s story since first writing to him over five years ago.
I just watched the final edit last night, and I really liked it,” said Bray on Sunday. “It was a bit of a rush getting everything together,” he said.
While it does not cover the whole of Barney’s tumultuous career, it does demonstrate how they performed the Yellow Sam gamble and why it occurred, as well as tracing its roots back to his boyhood.
He also spends his latter years in Zambia, which is covered in the film.” Many tales of gamblers exist, but this one stands out because he was very successful but at the end of his life, he was giving it all away, which is an uncommon conclusion.”
With the help of Irish director Ross Whitaker, the documentary will feature a recreation of the historic race, which is believed to have netted Curley the equivalent of £2 million in today’s money after he staged a coup that included blocking the sole public phone at the track.
The famous gambler and horse trainer, who was born in Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh, pulled off the ideal bet in 1975 when he won the equivalent of €2 million on his horse Yellow Sam, which he named after his hometown. He then decided to stop gambling.
Curley admits that he never celebrated his historic victory and describes his strained relationship with his father, Charlie, which pushed him to establish himself on the racetrack in the first place.
His father had been an unsuccessful gambler, and he recalls his father putting “his final shot” on a greyhound in 1956 that went on to break its back on the first bend of the course. This is an image that he has retained to this day.
He remembers seeing him “carrying the dog in his arms” after he had lost everything, and he was devastated.
“That’s all there is to it. The celebration had come to an end. “There was no turning back,” he admits.
In the absence of financial assistance, Curley was expelled from a fee-paying boarding school and forced to work with his father in a chemical plant in Manchester, where they worked double hours six days a week to pay off the debt.
During that time period, he describes his emotions toward his father as follows: “I was completely unaware of his gambling profession.” I felt he was a complete moron. Useless.”
Curley, on the other hand, was transformed by his days of hard labor and returned to Ireland, where he tried his hand as a failed priest, showband member, and tire smuggler.
His decision to stop taking risks was not made until after a near call on a smuggling operation that required him to hide in a vehicle as gunshots were fired above him, during which he was shot in the leg.