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Brendan McLoughlin



The Irish National Flying Club had their first race of the 2012 season when the birds were liberated in Skibbereen on Wednesday 23rd May following a one-day holdover. Wednesday morning again started off dull and overcast but this cleared as the morning progressed and the birds were released at 12 noon in a light south southeasterly wind. While the winning birds put up high velocities these quickly fell and there were some gaps between pigeons returning.

The race was sponsored by Bamfords Top Flight and we are very grateful to them for their continued sponsorship. The race took on a new format with the introduction of a new middle section for the Skibbereen Nationals only. As such the Ronnie Johnston Challenge Cup and diploma are awarded to the Overall winner and the Gerald Delaney Trophy awarded to the best velocity of the other two sections. The winner of the section with the lowest winning velocity will receive a coveted INFC diploma. There are no Open positions for the Skibbereen Nationals but prizes are allocated to the three sections.


1st North Section: Cromie & Magee, Dromara, Vel 1723 ypm, flying 243 miles, winning £747 and the Ronnie Johnston Challenge Trophy

The Dromara destroyers strike again, Cromie and Magee and Son win 1st Open, 1st North section. This is the third time in four years that the loft has won the North section and the second time in the same number of years that they have won the National. The wind direction or weather conditions do not seem to matter to this loft as they have the Skibbereen preparation off to perfection.

The partnership is Joe senior and his son Joe, and both work very hard with the birds. Now that Joe junior has retired there could be more fireworks to come. The loft is at Joe senior’s house just west of Ballynahinch and they race with Dromara H.P.S. - a club which is full of top flyers. The bird timed here is a three-year-old blue cock raced on widowhood. Raced as a young-bird on darkness he had the full programme. Again as a yearling all the inland programme and the same as a two-year-old. This year as usual he had all the inland races with very little training and then into Skibbereen. Throughout his career he has been a very consistent racer winning many prizes.

The breeding is Soontjens/ Hoofkens, with the Soontjens coming from the late Lesley Mairs and the Hoofkens from Andrews and Jackson. His Grand sire on the dam’s side was 2nd open with the N.I.P.A, from Rosscarbery and has bred many good birds. In fact two full brothers of ‘Young Joe’ as he is now called were the lofts first two bird from the N.I.P.A, Rosscarbery race taking 8th and 11 section D, 45th, and 54th Open with 6,175 birds competing. The feeding is Marimans French Petite with Multivits in the water once per week.

Joe Cromie Snr & Jnr with Young Joe, the Skibbereen OB National winner.


2nd North section: D Campbell & Bigger, Eastway, Vel 1718 ypm, flying 256 miles, winning £785

2nd and 3rd North section saw two pigeons to two lofts in the Eastway Club in neighbouring gardens. The first of these was to the partnership of D & J Campbell and Bigger whose first pigeon was a blue chequer yearling hen competing in her 2nd race of the year having started a week previous to the National when she was a prize winner from Fermoy for the partnership. Racing roundabout the breeding of this hen is Alan Brown of Dunedin and Ronan Kynt which the Eastway partnership have blended together to make a family of their own. The Campbell and Bigger team had a very successful Skibbereen National with 3 further birds on the prize sheet at 222nd, 228th and 248th North Section.

The Campbell & Bigger lofts were definitely a loft on form having had four birds in the top 100 in the NIPA Open result from Rosscarbery at 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 11th section C and 13th, 17th, 23rd and 60th Open with 6,175 birds competing. They had another super result from Fermoy the week before when they were 12th, 13th, 16th, 26th, 28th and 34th section C, and 26th, 27th, 31st, 68th, 77th and 91st Open with 28,178 birds competing.

Davy & Alister Campbell and Hugh Bigger - 2nd North section.


3rd North section: Grattan Bros, Eastway, Vel 1711 ypm, flying 256 miles, winning £607

The second pigeon into the Eastway club and 3rd North Section was to Grattan Bros who also timed a yearling hen a blue of Belgium origins the sire being a grizzle cock of Vos Jennes lines whilst the dam like the Campbell and Biggers pigeon was a Ronan Kynt . This hen as a darkened youngster had already been a prize winner although she did not start to race until later in the season when she started with the NIPA comeback race after having been well trained and again this year had already been amongst the prize winners. Pre season she was given just two training tosses and she was racing Roundabout The name of Grattan Bros has been at the top for many years but sadly Tommy’s Grandfather Jack passed away in April of this year but he would have been delighted with this latest success for Tommy and his sons Justin, Jack and Jamie. This loft also had other birds amongst the prizes at 158th and 183rd North section.


4th North section: R Johnston Comber Social, Vel 1707, flying 254 miles, winning £150:

Ronnie Johnston is the Patron of the Irish National Flying Club, a position which he has now held for a number of years and he makes no secret of the fact that he is very proud of the Irish National Flying Club and it’s achievements. So far this season Ronnie has been achieving very consistent results in the East Down Combine featuring regularly in the Open results.

The pigeon he timed from the Skibbereen National for 4th North Section is a two-year-old Blue cock with a very impressive pedigree. The sire is a blue pied bred by Jean Stevens & Son of Belgium, the grand sire being the blue cock “De Bliksem” winner of 6 x 1sts including 19th, 24th and 25th Nationals.

The dam is a blue Willy Jacobs direct on loan from Mr and Mrs Gerald Delaney of Oroory Hill Stud.

Ronnie had a second pigeon in the prizes, a blue hen finishing 38th North section and enjoyed a great race with excellent returns.


5th North section: G Buckley & Son Annaghmore, Vel 1690, flying 229 miles, winning £230

5th Open, 5th section is another outstanding National loft, that of Glen Buckley and Son Annaghmore. This loft have an excellent record on the Channel and from the National races from France, but lets not forget that they also have a very good record from Skibbereen/Rosscarbery.  They are previous winners of Skibbereen Young Bird National in 2001 and were 1st Open NIPA Yearling Cocks Rosscarbery 2009. Their timer is a blue yearling Soontjens x Van Rijn hen raced on roundabout. She had most of the inland programme this year as she did last year when raced as a darkness young bird.

Glen and Johnny had a great race here with other birds in the result at 21st, 74th and 102nd North section. In the NIPA Rosscarbery race this year they were 8th and 17th section E, and 26th and 29th Open from an entry of 6,175 birds. Having won a Hall Of Fame award last year the Buckleys have a lot more to look forward to in the National racing this year.


1st Middle section: Grogan & Kearns, Finglas, Vel 1670, flying 177 miles, winning £384 and the Gerald Delaney Trophy

Grogan & Kearns become the first ever winners of the Middle section in the Irish National Flying Club, and they will always hold that honour. The partnership is made up of brothers Thomas and Robert Grogan. The Kearns was their late grandfather Robert who was a founder member of the Finglas club in 1960.

The partnership started back racing in 2008 and were Irish South Road Fed Champions in 2011. The pigeon winning the Middle section is a two-year-old Vandenabeele cock. The dam was the Old Bird of the Year in the South Road Fed last year and is one they bred themselves from stock obtained from Dave and John Hawkins from Doncaster. Thomas told me that they reared two youngsters of this hen in 2010 and two more in 2011 and still have all four of them.  The sire is another Vandenabeele bred from stock obtained from Dave & John Hawkins.

As a young bird the two-year-old cock timed here had a couple of minor cards, then as a yearling he had 4 Federation cards (in the top 100). He got injured and was taken off the road after 5 races. This year he has been second club twice and also third competing against 600 to 700 birds. In the Fed he was 45th Fed Mallow, 32nd Fed Skibbereen and 20th Open Barleycove. The only race he has missed this year was the Pilmore Beach on the Saturday before basketing for the National. His nestmate has been 1st and 8th club this year as well as 4th Fed from Mallow. They had a great race here with two other birds in the result at 15th and 26th Middle section.

The birds have a 35-mile training toss every day Monday to Thursday, weather permitting. They are raced roundabout and the hens are shown on Friday mornings for a short spell before being taken away again. Feeding is Gemfeed and this is left with them all day until 8.30pm. They rear between 70 and 80 young birds, which are all darkened and started the season with 65 old birds.

In finishing the Grogans asked me to congratulate Cromie and Magee on another great win and said they feel so proud to see their name among so many well-known fanciers in the result.


2nd Middle section: Joey McLoughlin Blanchardstown, Vel 1626, Flying 175 miles, winning £210

I had the pleasure of reporting on this loft last year when Joey was 1st South section in the Channel Young Bird National from Penzance and went on to won the Harkers Trophy for best average Sennen Cove Yearling National and Penzance Young Bird Nationals.

The pigeon timed here is a grizzle yearling hen and was bred in the racing loft. The breeding is mainly Roland Janssen and Soontjens. As a young bird she had 2 x 1st clubs and was also 38th Fed with 10,500 birds competing and 52nd Fed with 8,500 birds competing.

Joey had a great race here with three more birds in the result at 6th, 18th and 39th Middle section. The nestmate of the pigeon taking 2nd Middle section was 18th Middle section. Joey’s pigeons have been in great form all season with many good results including taking the first seven in the club from Mallow. He started the season with 38 Old Birds and had terrible trouble with hawks at the beginning of the season.

Joey races the birds on the roundabout system but left them together after the Skibbereen National to prepare them for the Yearling National as the Nationals really are his focus of attention.

Joey McLoughlin - 2nd Middle section Skibbereen.


3rd Middle section: Safet Duran, Blanchardstown, Vel 1606, Flying 174 miles, winning £169

Mick Gilligan introduced me to Safet at the Irish Homing Union AGM in March and assured me that it wouldn’t be long until I would be writing about him for one of the National reports and here we are in the first race since and Safet is 3rd Middle section. Safet came to Ireland from Bosnia 12 years ago. Back home he had kept some high-flying pigeons (tipplers) so had some knowledge of pigeons. He was introduced to the club by Paddy Maples and is very grateful for the warm welcome he received from all the members. Safet told me that he has made many very good friends through pigeons. He mentioned Liam Donnelly who in particular had been an enormous help. While this is only Safet’s 5th year racing pigeons in Ireland he was the Old Bird Champion and the Overall Champion in the club last year with 13 x 1sts, 9 x 2nds, 11 x 3rds and a total of 91 cards in the top ten. He also had the Best Old Bird and the Best Young Bird. The previous year only Young Birds were raced as Safet had moved address and he was the Young Bird Champion with 5 x 1sts, 3 x 2nds and 8x 3rds getting 41 cards in the top ten.

Safet joined the Irish National Flying Club in 2010 and had instant success with seven pigeons in the Open result at 17th, 19th, 31st, 37th, 47th, 48th, 112th in the Young Bird Skibbereen and in the Young Bird National from Penzance he was 92nd Open. Last year he was 36th, 41st, 48th, 50th and 102nd Open Old Bird Skibbereen, 39th Yearling National and 135th Open Young Bird Skibbereen. In the Old Bird National this year Safet again had a wonderful card taking 3rd, 16th, 17th, 33rd, 35th and 58th Middle section.

The pigeon timed at 3rd Middle section is a yearling cock, which has been named ‘Arrow’. The dam is an Eijrkamp/Janssen hen and is a Granddaughter of ‘Wonderboy 05’, ‘James Bond’ ‘Sonny Boy’ and ‘Lady General’ She has bred many winners for Safet and for others. The sire is a Koopman and is a grandson of ‘Garmela’ who was 3rd in the Million Dollar race. His dam is ‘Klein Dirk’ and the sire ‘ Ligmos King’.

Safet wants to take the opportunity to thank his family for understanding his love for the pigeon sport especially his daughter Merjem for the help she gives him with the pigeons.

Safet Duran, Blanchardstown - 3rd Middle section


4th Middle section: Brendan Corley, Monaghan, Vel 1600, Flying 205 miles, winning £70.

We move to Smithboro in Co Monaghan for the 4th Middle section pigeon. Bred and raced by Brendan Corley this bird is a three-year-old cock raced on the widowhood system. This is a loft bang on form at the moment as Brendan followed this result up by taking 1st Open NIPA on the Saturday from Clonmel. This was in fact Brendan’s third NIPA Open win having previously won from Talbenny in 2007 and from Tullamore in 2010.

The sire of the pigeon at 4th Middle section here is from Alan McDonald, Portadown and is a race winner himself. The dam is a Delbar from Bill Troughton lines. These Delbars have been a great introduction for Brendan. His three NIPA Open winners all have the Troughton lines.

The three-year-old cock timed here has had quite a few club positions but this is his first win.

Brendan’s birds are trained with Kieran Shannon to Granard, Co Longford on Tuesdays and Thursdays, weather permitting, and feeding is widowhood mix and Champion Supreme from Cyril Beattie.

Brendan Corley, Monaghan - 4th Middle section


5th Middle section: Savage Bros, Finglas, Vel, 1589, Flying 177 miles, winning £115

We go back to Finglas for 5th Middle section to the lofts of  Gary and Mick Savage, of Savage Bros. Gary and Mick began racing with their late father, Mick senior. On leaving school Mick junior went abroad to work and only came back to Ireland in 2007, the year their father died. When their father died Gary and Mick got together and went into partnership together.

The pigeon timed is a yearling Jos Soontjens cock with the parents coming from clubmate James Boland. This yearling cock was also 4th club, 41st Fed from Skibbereen and his sister has a great racing record having been 1st club, 15th Fed Thurles in 2010, 4th club, 9th Fed Rosscarbery 2010, 1st club, 21st Fed Thurles in 2011 and 6th club Mallow 2011.

They race their pigeons natural and this cock was sent to the race feeding two big young birds and chasing his hen again. Training is with Thomas Grogan on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Feeding like the Grogan & Kearns partnership is Gem feeding from Jeff Byrne


1st South section, Gregory Bros, Rathnew, Vel 1557, flying 167 miles, winning £80

The winners of the South section, Gregory Bros of Rathnew need no introduction, as they are previous Irish National Flying Club winners having won the Skibbereen Young Bird National in 2002. Since Tommy and Roger started to build this family of pigeons 15 years ago they have won 6 Nationals, 40 Fed and 16 Opens, which is quite some record.

The South section winner is a yearling hen flying Natural which was timed at 15: 09 for the 167 mile fly to leave her 26 minutes ahead of the second pigeon in the South section.  She was only paired 4 days before the race on the Saturday when she came home from Owenahincha when she was 1st club, 11th East Coast Fed with over 5,000 birds competing. She had been 15th Fed three weeks previously from Pilmore Beach. She was sent back to Owenahincha on the Saturday after the National and was 2nd club.

The sire is a Staf Van Reet from Jeff Greenaway, Dromore while the dam is Delbar/Jan Arden with a touch of Soontjens and Staf Van Reet. A full sister was clocked in the King’s Cup in 2009 and a cousin was 6th Open Friendship National last year. The dam has bred 12 winners with 3 different cocks. The dam is a full sister of the 2007 Yearling National winner for J & J Merrigan, Rathnew. These bloodlines go all the way back to ‘Hercules’, a Delbar/Jan Arden cock.

The winning hen was a darkened youngster and won a few prizes but no major honours. The brothers don’t make a big effort for the young birds as they like to concentrate on the Old Birds. The birds have food in front of them all the time and they can eat as much as they want. They are not broken down at all after a race.

Gregory Bros, Rathnew - 1st & 2nd South section


2nd South section: Gregory Bros, Rathnew, Vel 1507, Flying 167 miles, winning £65

Tommy and Roger Gregory are also 2nd South section and with three more birds in the result at 19th, 21st and 22nd South section this was another memorable National race for them. The pigeon at second section is a Blue Pied yearling cock. The sire is half Grondelaar from Gerald Delaney’s Oroory Hill Stud and is down from ‘Young Terry’ and ‘Young Felix’. The dam is a Heremans-Ceusters from Stuarnes & Donker from Belgium. Tommy and Roger bought their number one stock cock and the dam is a daughter of this cock. They are very happy with this new blood.

Again this cock was only paired on the Saturday before the National. He had been given his hen two hours before basketing for the Owenahincha race. The hen was taken away on the Sunday evening again and then put back on the Monday morning at 6am prior to being sent to the National.


3rd South section: M & J O’Reilly Arklow Utd RPC, Vel 1472, Flying 157 miles, winning £98

3rd South section goes to Michael and Joe O’Reilly from the Arklow Utd club. This father and Son partnership had a great race with birds at 3rd, 5th, 11th and 18th South section.

The pigeon timed was a yearling cock that won as a young bird. The breeding is Soontjens from the late Eric Carlisle, Dundrum, Co Down. These birds form the base of Michael and Joe’s loft and a very successful loft it is.

The sire is their St Malo cock that was 4th Open St Malo in the IHU National in 2006. This cock has bred multiple prizewinners. The dam is their‘62’ hen, and is a daughter of the No 1 Soontjens hen.  They have had three wins this year and all are birds off this pair. Michael and Joe take a pair of young birds off all their three-year-old birds to see if they are worth putting in the stock.

All young birds are raced on the darkness and they see no problem with these birds as old birds.

Michael & Joe O'Reilly, Arklow RPC - 3rd & 5th South section.


4th South section: Murphy Bros, Newtown-Kilpeddar, Vel 1423, Flying 170 miles winning £35

This partnership is made up of brothers Frankie, Terry, Willie and Craig and was only formed last year. They have named their lofts as ‘Magpie Lofts’ after their local football club. They were too late to join any club last year but managed to send their birds to a few races as trainers. They bought in 10 young birds from Sheldon Leonard. These were Belgian rung youngsters from the Natural Breeding Station. This year they joined the Newton-Kilpeddar club and began the season with 7 birds. They decided not to send to Owenahincha on the Saturday before race marking, as they wanted to save their birds for the National race. They sent five to the National and had all five within the hour.

The pigeon timed at 4th South section is a Van Dijck yearling hen that has been the first bird to the loft in every race this year. She lost her cock early in the season and has just been flying to the perch since.

Craig asked me to thank Liam Paisley, Stillorgan who has given them a lot of good advice and has put them on the right road and also their father Frankie who has been a great help to them and who will probably feature in the partnership next year.

The brothers are all very enthusiastic and when talking to Craig I was very much reminded of John Prenter who won last year’s Yearling National.

Frankie and Gary Murphy with Franki's son Ross.


5th South section: M & J O’Reilly, Arklow Utd RPC, Vel 1404, Flying 157 miles, winning £44

Michael and Joe O’Reilly, Arklow RPC are back in the result again at 5th South section. The pigeon timed here is a two-year-old cock that has already won three races. Unfortunately when I was speaking to Joe he was missing from Castletownbere on the Saturday after the National.

The sire of this cock is a son of their Number one Soontjens cock from Eric Carlisle, while the dam is the ‘Hermans hen’ bought at Eric Carlisle’s clearance sale in 2006. This hen is responsible for 20 x 1st prizewinners. The ‘Hermans hen’ is the mother of the National winner from Rosscarbery, ‘Dundrum Lady’ and ‘Dicey’ winner of the IHU National from Penzance in 2007.

The friendship with Eric developed when Eric reported one of their birds. When Joe traveled north to collect it he returned with 3 Soontjens and the rest as they say is history as Michael and Joe went on to build a very successful team of Soontjens.

This is the O’Reillys first year on the roundabout system and they feed Natural Widowhood and Natural Diet. They watch the weather to decide how and when to build their birds up.

I would like to thank Davy Black and Clifford Brown for their help in compiling this report and to all who helped with photographs, particularly Davy, Clifford, Steve McGarry and Willie Reynolds.

Remember Entry Fee £10 for the Robin Duddy Challenge must be paid on or before 11th June. This is for the Best average velocity in the Yearling National and Channel Young Bird Nationals with a first prize of £1000. Full details and entry forms are in the INFC race booklet.

Brendan Mcloughlin

INFC Press Officer