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''Summer's gone by''


Continuing on once more I would like on this occasion to introduce to the fancy a gentleman who I could only describe as one of the greatest assets ever to grace the sport of pigeon racing in Cork. This gentleman is the great Tony O' Mahony.

Tony O'Mahony


Tony O' Mahony was born in the year of 1947 into a family of 10 in a place called Mount Nebo Avenue which is situated in Gurranabraher on the north side of Cork city. The family consisted of 6 boys and 4 girls. Big families were very common back then but in today's world it seems a thing of the past. Tony's position in the family tree was that he was the 3rd youngest of the 10. Originally the O' Mahony family started out life in a place known as broad lane which was located just off the famous St. Francis's church in the city centre . St. Francis church itself is a beautiful building constructed of entirely red brick and it's foundation stone was laid in august 1949 two years after Tony was born. All this area was and still is known today as the marsh and the reason being is that Cork city centre is low lying in a valley and where the mighty river lee flows through cork it splits in two for a short distance. In this split a marshy island was created and it is on this island that Cork city centre is built. At the young age of 13 Tony was to start working as a docker in the company of his father Christy O' Mahony a very well known character in cork. Tony's mother's name was Elizabeth O' Mahony [nee O' Brien] and was a clothes trader in the famous Coal quay in Cornmarket Street. In Tony’s teenage years himself and his brothers along with his father christy would always be at one thing or another be it dogs, pigeons, canaries or chickens everything was of interest to them. In fact anytime a visitor would call to see his father Christy they would be equally greeted by his beautiful bull terrier that was usually tied to his chair, happy times.


Tony O 'Mahony in his prime at the old loft in Mount Nebo        -       Tony and Kathleen O' Mahony

It wasn't until 1965 that Tony really got started in pigeons and after forming a partnership with his brother Miah and father Christy they were soon up and running. Where it all began like many others long go was with stray pigeons that were caught from the dock boats. It wasn't long before a club was joined and this wasn't just any club, this was the great Sunnyside pigeon club. This great club was situated on the property of the legendary Cork coal stores businessman the late Micheal Dennehy known to many as Micheal 'dennati'. The calibre of fancier was second to none in the Sunnyside club with the likes of Bill Moynihan 'Muckaloo', Johnny Murphy, Paddy O' Callaghan, Johnny O' Mahony, Billy Griffin, Jimmy Corcoran, Micheal Dennehy, Pat Mullins, Thomas Goulding and Florie O' Keefe just being a sample of the standard of fancier and man. In 1967 racing was to commence for the O' Mahony partnership and an immediate arrangement was made between Tony and Miah that Tony was to be the man to clock with Miah being on the outside to 'walk them in' so to speak. Almost from the word go they were to hit it off with specific distance channel races being targeted and triumphed. One particular race targeted was the Scottish highland race point of Fort William, a difficult race point and a difficult task to say the least but the O' Mahony pigeons showed there resolve by flying the 370 mile race and winning being 20 minutes clear on the day. Not just were they happy to win this race point once but went on to win it for a second time after. Both Fort William winners were hens, a blue cheq hen being of their own bloodlines and a black cheq 2 yr old latebred hen being bred from the late great Florie O' Keeffe's loft. Another from the O' Mahony conveyer belt was there good blue hen who flew Thurso twice on the 2nd day each time. Tony was to inform me that she in fact was bred down from a pair of strays that originated from the boats. Miah as stated by Tony was a super judge of a pigeon, in fact Tony recalling the story of the 10 bob hen that was left unwanted in a pet store and a few fanciers on a certain day were to misjudge her for a cock, Miah begged to differ and saw something the others didn't and what a decision that was to turn out as Miah's hunch was correct a hen it was, and no ordinary hen at that, as she was to later produce pigeons to fly Thurso in Scotland a distance of 500 miles. Many great results and positions were had and the O' Mahony's knew exactly what they wanted and how to go about it. In time the partnership would move on to a club called Shandon which was located just off blarney street in an old harrier club but unfortunately this club wasn't to survive and eventually folded. A move was then made to the North West club which from there led to the eventual creation of the temple club. On enquiring Tony stated that it was actually his brother Miah along with Seanie fielding, John Kenny and Nebby Higgins that founded the temple club and not just were they great pigeon fanciers but great men. Tony at that time was working for 'nagle tiles' and remembers well them putting up a cup and £20 for the Thurso race and at the time a lot of money. Thurso was traditionally a historic race point for Cork fanciers and in that particular year it was to be Seanie Fielding's name on the cup, Seanie was and still is a thorough gentleman to this day. Speaking of Scottish race points one particular gentleman was to have a great influence on the O' Mahony's over the years, this gentleman was the late great Florie O' Keeffe. On top of being a great influence, a great friendship was also struck between them. Florie O' Keeffe was an absolute outstanding fancier in fact he was one of Cork's greatest. Not only did Florie breed and win with a small team but he also bred for others that would also win. Tony stating that there lovely blue cheq hen that won the Girvan channel race was bred from a blue hen that was full of Florie’s bloodlines also. Such was the standard at that time in the O' Keeffe loft that on one summer's evening while Tony accompanied Florie in the wait for bird's from Scotland that 3 pigeon's were spotted coming together at 7 o' clock and indeed all three were clocked in the loft of Florie O' Keeffe .One hour later Florie's mealy cock was to arrive and he was promptly diagnosed with not meeting the expected standard stating he's not a racer, how times have changed in today's climate? As the friendship grew and with Tony being still relatively young he would also assist Florie by clocking in his birds for him on many an occasion. On one race day morning the birds were liberated in Dundalk and before Florie left for work he clutched in his hand a bunch of grass which he threw into the air to judge the wind, turning and stating to Tony to keep an eye on blarney street side of the city today as this was the direction that he expected his good blue cock from and that's exactly what was to happen with the blue cock coming right up the river to the waiting Tony who clocked him and indeed winning the race for florie. Many cherished memories were created and one very innocent story that still gets Tony laughing to this day is when on one occasion Florie explained to his wife kitty that there was a blue stray hanging around the loft and that if she saw it she was to hunt it away with the brush. It just happened that the same weekend the Laren race was on and a hard race it turned out to be, the following morning Florie's good blue race cock turned up and would you believe kitty believing it was the stray that Florie had warned her about went out the back yard like a bat out of hell and in the process of chasing it off with the brush ended the blue cock's racing career breaking his wing. Tony remembering like yesterday on another occasion a white gb64 cock that was gifted to him was flying at the O' Mahony loft for a year and a half. To his amazement on parting the cocks from the hens the white cock began to wander. He went out for a fly shortly after and fly he did, going down Gurranabraher towards the Cork harbour and he was gone, clearly he had made up his mind. The cock succeeded in crossing the channel to his original loft in the UK.


An old classic with Tony, Timmy and Miah at the back   -    Bobby Virgo presenting Tony with a beautiful trophy back in 1971


The late great Cork boxing legend Seanien O'Mahony     -      The late great Miah Mahony

A historic picture with Miah O'Mahony being presented with the channel cup outside the famous Connie Donovans

Away from pigeons for a moment and another hidden talent of the O' Mahony clan was to emerge . Seanie O' Mahony another of the brothers was to go onto become one of Cork's greatest ever boxers indeed Tony himself loved boxing and would be seen sparring almost every night of the week but Seanie was to take it much further. The famous Fr. Horgan's boxing club was to be almost Seanie's second home. Seanie was a gentle character outside the ring, turning stylish and raw on the inside. While a young juvenile Seanie had few equals. He won all the National titles available to him, from an Irish featherweight title to ringside tournaments representing Munster and army/navy teams .Only beaten once in 5 years he was National champion of Ireland 3 times alongside winning countless Cork county titles. He was a class performer of his era. He was a powerful puncher who would end most of his contests inside the distance. His will to win made him almost invincible, one of the characteristics that made seanie unique and that has given him an elated place in Cork boxing history. On enquiring I was told that at the time Seanie's talents were spotted by a priest in Dublin who was offering Seanie an opportunity to further his career by way of a move to England. With Seanie being young this was quickly knocked on the head by father Christy as he knew Seanie was too much of a home bird. One regret Tony felt that the national boxing at that time was very 'capital' orientated explaining his disappointment that Seanie should have got to wear his national colours and represent his country, I have no doubt he would of done us even more proud than he already had. A courteous, gentle character the now late Seanie O' Mahony has earned the right and will go down as one of the greatest boxers ever to be born inside the county of Cork. Back to Tony and it was only a few short years later that Tony was to marry his lovely wife Kathleen. Starting out married life on baker's road Tony and Kathleen were after 3-4 years to transfer house. The transfer was made much easier the fact that the new house was literally across the road a mere distance of around 20 yds away. Even though Tony was still up and down to mount Nebo to Miah he felt it was the right time to put up a loft for himself. Tony laughingly telling me that himself and Miah had an arrangement between themselves for a bit of fun each brother would have a pigeon in the loft belonging to the other and upon clocking from the race the bird would be released to basically let the other know they had clocked Tony stating that on the majority of weeks it would be his bird coming back telling him that Miah had clocked in, those were the days. In 1984  after 25 years working for nagle tiles Tony was made redundant and after such a long spell adapting to something else wasn't going to be easy but adapt is what he done. After a short spell Tony would once more be occupied this time as an employee of the Cork city council. Tony was to be based at the time in the very famous St. Finbarrs cemetery as a machine operator. Tony stated it was the best job ever with his role being to maintain the cemetery and was responsible for opening plots for burials etc. Tony took great pride on informing me that he personally prepared the plot for the late Jack Lynch's final resting place. Jack Lynch the twice taoiseach of Ireland was a true legend. Outside of being Taoiseach Jack Lynch was a famed sportsman being an outstanding hurler and footballer for Cork and for his club he played with the famous Glen Rovers hurling club and footballer with its sister club St.Nicks. He was and is regarded as one of the greatest dual players of all time. On representing Cork in hurling Jack Lynch was to win 5 All- Ireland titles, 7 Munster titles, 3 National leagues and 7 Railway cup titles. In football winning 1 All-Ireland, 2 Munster titles and 1 Railway cup. It doesn't end there out in the famed village of Blackpool lies a famous club called Glen rovers. Here in starting out he enjoyed much success at underage winning back to back Minor County championships in 1933 and '34 as captain. That same year 'Lynch' won his first senior county hurling championship with the 'Glen'. It was to be the first of a record breaking eight County titles in a row for Glen rovers and for 'Lynch' who served as captain on a number of occasions. He finished off his hurling career by winning a further 3 County medals in 1948, 1949 and in 1950. Jack Lynch was later to be named at midfield on the hurling team of the millennium, what a great honour Tony. I’m sure 'Lynch' is smiling down today when his beloved club Glen rovers are once more Cork county senior hurling champions two years in succession after a long barren spell in the wilderness. Coming back to Tony O' Mahony he himself was afterwards to clock many a good pigeon both inland and on the channel and to this day is still actively involved keeping a lovely tidy team of pigeons. The great Ray and Billy Matthews bloodlines currently runs through his loft and Tony wished to acknowledge and thank them both. Specie of bird Tony still keeps to this day are his lovely team of small birds. At present Tony is very keen on mutation love birds and went to a lot of bother to acquire the very best and it was of no surprise to hear Tony tell me that he went and sourced them from as far away as the Czech Republic, Belgium and Holland. Having had the pleasure of seeing them first hand I must say they were beautifully conditioned and an absolute credit to him. Tony's son also plays a big part with the lovebirds and these birds are very much sought after such is the quality. Tony O' Mahony has all down through the years been a great a man that could be depended on and a great asset he was and still is. His generosity and availability to give his time in an effort to raise sponsorship funds to help clubs all down the years has been nothing short of spectacular. What Tony has done financially for pigeon racing in Cork has been inspirational in fact not alone did he single handedly finance a trailer for his new club Mayfield r.p.c. but stated to me that he has also raised in the region of 10,000 euro for another organisation in the very recent past. Helping others comes as second nature to Tony and to have him on board as the vice- chairman of Mayfield r.p.c and to work alongside him is an honour and privilege. Going about his business in a quiet, unassuming and gentlemanly way Tony commands and deserves respect such is the character of this Cork great. The following are a few questions that I put to Tony on the day and which, he was only too glad to answer.


 Tony's new lofts after getting married

Q1 How big are your lofts? How many sections, size etc?                                                                                            

Ans- I keep a small loft only 18ft long with 2 sections.

Q2   How many pairs of stock do you keep?

Ans- Only 5 pairs of stock are kept with some being of ray and Billy Matthews bloodlines and the others from my own original family.

Q3 - Do you clean out or use deep litter?

Ans- I use sand mixed with farmer's lime and sawdust. It is raked over once per week.

Q4- Do you use any preventative medication? If so when and why?

Ans- No as natural at all times as possible with a drop of iodine added to the water now and then.

Q5 What is your opinion regarding the annual vaccination?

Ans-Long ago there was never a problem and now we are vaccinating them and they are lost everywhere. I also feel that ybs should only be done once and no more.

Q6 What part of the season do you enjoy most?

Ans- Breeding season.

Q7 Do you race ybs natural or darkness?

Ans Natural -stating that the darkness is against nature.

Q8 How far do you train your old/young birds?

Ans- Roughly 40 miles old and young.

Q9 Do you give anything in particular to the pigeons on return from a race?

Ans- A bit of red band, a few peanuts and nothing in the water.

Q10 How do you pick your pool pigeon?

Ans-I like to see a pigeon clung to the nest nice and tight.

Q11 How far do you race your ybs?

Ans- As far as the programme allows, I don't spare them.

Q12 Which race route do you prefer north road or south road?

Ans - I now prefer the south road as for the last few years the north road has become very difficult.

Q13 Who would you consider to be or has been the greatest fanciers in your area?

Ans- The best I have ever seen would be Florie O' Keefe, George Busteed, Jimmy Corcoran, Miah O' Mahony and Bill Moynihan.

Q14 What would be your fondest memory in the sport?

Ans- Seeing the Thurso hen landing on the trap.

Q15 Would you like to see anything change in the sport?

Ans- I would like to see a bit of harmony in Cork as I feel there is way too much bitterness.

Q16 Is there anyone in particular you would like to thank?

Ans - I would like to thank my wife Kathleen for putting up with me since I started in pigeons.


Before I bring this article to a close Thomas Murphy chairman of Mayfield r.p.c. and long time friend of Tony had this to say by way of compliment ''Tony O' Mahony is an admirable, hardworking character that stands by his principles and is ultra dependable, a real class act''.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Tony for his unselfish dedication and time for pigeon racing in Cork over the years in order for others to benefit. I would also like to wish Tony the very best of luck with his pigeons in the upcoming season ahead , with a final note I hope and wish Tony, Kathleen and family all the very best for the future.









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