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From The Barrow Valley - 4 - 23-02-21

From The Barrow Valley - 4

I have included some photos in the column this week, which for one reason or another are nearly all related or connected, if not directly, then, indirectly.

Noel o Connor who is photographed with Gerry Heary accompanying the pigeons to Girvan in Scotland, in the early nineties, has decided to make a comeback into the sport, it has been nearly thirty years since he finished up with the birds, after going into racing greyhounds and having a very successful career both on the track and in the coursing field, he has begun to slow down a bit and has decided on a more leisurely pastime, I don’t know for definite that he will be back racing, but knowing his competitive nature, I’m sure he will be wanting to try his new acquisitions on the road pretty soon.

Gerry Heary Noel o Connor Liberating at Girvan
Gerry Heary & Noel o Connor, Liberating at Girvan. circa 1986.

Noel was the first chairman of the newly formed North Road Central Federation when it was set up in the winter of nineteen eighty nine, in another photo you will see Tom Kelly, who as a master coach builder was instrumental in building the new transporter for the federation, and it was a very proud day for all those involved to see the new lorry all decked out and ready to go when it was first displayed for viewing in Kilkenny at the launch of the first season of the new federation, and as it happens, another person included in this week’s photos is Frank Archbold who was the winner of the first ever race organised on the north road in nineteen ninety, by the North road central federation.

Tom Kelly Pigeon Man Coach BuilderPNG

Tom Kelly, Pigeon Man, Coach Builder.

Tom Kelly was a great benefactor to the north road central fed, after building and refurbishing the new lorry, the federation was allowed the full use of the lorry until it got up and on its feet and it was only in its second year that the account for getting the lorry on the road was finally settled with Tom, which was an outstanding contribution to the success of the new organisation.

The Irish North Road Central Federation Lorry built by Tom Kelly in the winter of 1989jpg
The Irish, North Road Central Federation Lorry, built by Tom Kelly in the winter of 1989.

Still racing their pigeons as Tom & Enda Kelly they have an outstanding stud of new modern day sprint pigeons, but in the back ground Tom still keeps his hand in with the odd distance pigeon, none more so than the very good black cock that they have been racing over the last few years, take note, that they only sent the one bird to St Malo in the last two years, winning 1st Club, 1st Section, 2nd Open in 2019, then in 2020 1st club 4th Section, 15th Open, both in the IHUNFC, with that one pigeon, a super performance by both men and bird over the two years.

Black Cock 2nd Open IHUNFC St Malo 2019
Black Cock, 2nd Open IHUNFC St Malo 2019. 15th Open IHUNFC St Malo in 2020 for Tom & Enda Kelly.

Another connection was that Noel o Connor was the man that clocked the record breaking long distance hen from Lerwick, for Frank Archbold in nineteen seventy four, as Frank was away at a wedding on that day.

Francis Corcoran Frank Archboldjpg
Francis Corcoran & Frank Archbold.

Back in the day we did not have the photographic skills that now exist in abundance if you wanted to have your champion photographed, and indeed it was again Noel to the rescue, when he put together the photo of Benny Nolan’s Lerwick winner “Moanmore King” in nineteen seventy eight, a winner of 4th Open at 541 miles for the man from Old Leighlin, Benny is also pictured with Ned o Neill, now deceased, he was a lifelong fancier of both pigeons and native birds, Ned’s claim to fame was in clocking in from Guernsey on the day in an open race held in the nineties, unfortunately I have found it quite difficult to get any information on this race, but I think it may have been organised by the Irish south road federation, but I stand to be corrected, maybe some of the older Dubs might remember that race.

Benny Nolan The late Ned o Neilljpg        a Lerwick winner 1st Club 4th Open INRNFC in 1978 for Benny Nolan Barrow Valley RPCjpg
Benny Nolan & The late Ned o Neill.     A Lerwick winner, 1st Club, 4th Open INRNFC in 1978 for Benny Nolan, Barrow Valley RPC.

Where has the time gone, and the real distance races seemed to have disappeared as well, nowadays we have the St Malo race with the IHUNFC as our longest race, hopefully next year the INFC will be able to put on the Kings cup, that might give an extra few miles, in the meantime it’s up and down the country every week.

Shortly I’ll be able to write about the boys that enjoy that sort of racing and I can tell you that there are plenty of top performers at sprint racing in our area, it’s so competitive, that a man would want to be quite brave to stand up and claim to be the best flyer in our neck of the woods. That’s all to look forward to in the future, by the time this is in print we should be getting a lot closer to the racing season, as I write this most fanciers have their young birds in the nest and in some instances have their young birds weaned off, a new season is on the horizon, with maybe some new lines to try, it will be a joy for all if we can get through these strange times unscathed.

Before lockdown New years day show 2020
Before lockdown, New years day show 2020. Kelly, Kavanagh & Brennan families.

My partridge are going well, I did have some problems with a fox hanging around but that was soon sorted, a cold spell just at the right time had him focused in the right place at the right time, whilst the black pheasant are also doing well, I’m hoping to rear a few more of these next season and maybe try a few native grey partridge, however it’s hard to get genuine native now as the stocks of wild Irish partridges are very low at the moment, there is a government scheme being run in a place called Boora Bog, but they are reluctant to allow any of their bloodlines into private hands. Regardless of that I still enjoy the ups and downs of it all, and I do have some good friends in the game that I can turn to if I need help in that area.

One of my Black pheasants taking a stroll into the danger zonejpg
One of my Black pheasants taking a stroll into the danger zone.

Well that it for this time.

Good luck and keep safe.