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From the Barrow Valley - 06-04-21

From the Barrow Valley  

Recently I heard of the passing of a stalwart of pigeon racing in the Dungarvan area.
Mick Mulcathy had raced in the town for decades, and I often had reason to speak with him, especially on national race days, given the right conditions Mick would often have an early one, on several occasions winning his section in the IHUNFC, he enjoyed his racing right up to the end, and will be sadly missed by club mates in Dungarvan.
Our condolences go to all his family, May he rest in peace.

The smile says it all. the late Mick Mullcathy Dungarvan when he was 1st sect D 5th Open Barlycove 1 IHU. NFC. Inland National. Vel 1952ypm. 2
The smile say's it all. the late Mick Mullcathy, Dungarvan, when he was 1st sect D 5th Open Barlycove [1] IHU. NFC. Inland National. Vel 1952ypm. (2)

Moving on from that sad news, It’s a bit disappointing to think that we have got this close to the country opening up somewhat only to find that reopening may not now occur on April 5th as planned, I suspected that there was going to be a problem when the government meeting due to be held on March 25th was postponed for a few days, as they say, there’s no smoke without fire.

Alpine Cottage 2020
Alpine Cottage 2020. With a bit of luck we'll be back to doing ou flowers for 2021 very soon.

Having said that the word from the IHU southern region, who have at least issued a clear statement that everybody can understand, which states that “training can start as soon as the country returns to level 3 and that racing can start two weeks after that” so whilst we are in level five there will be no training or racing allowed. It may not be what we want to hear, but at least it is clear and concise.

Alpine Aviaries Our bird room as it used to bejpg
Alpine Aviaries, Our bird room as it used to be.

Thankfully the weather has picked up over the last few days, temperatures have risen to a point whereby, given the go ahead we could start training the birds, we’re coming up on the twelfth of April, on which date we will be allowed to travel anywhere within our county and like ourselves, if you live bordering another county, you can also travel twenty kilometres into that county as well. There is also talk of a date that we might be able to start racing, but that’s best left until we know for certain, safe to say that the IHU officials will be working hard trying to achieve that milestone for all its members. Once the guidelines are issued, it is incumbent on every member to follow the rules regarding marking and clock checking.
I know that we here in the Barrow Valley have everything in place to provide a safe environment for our members and the wider public that sometimes share the amenities in the area.

Our Chickens at Alpine Cottagejpg
Our Chickens at Alpine Cottage.

With little or no information stirring around I have been reminiscing about growing up in the Carlow area and in particular the way pigeons and pigeon racing has influenced my approach to life in general.

There was only one connection to pigeons in our family and that wasn’t a very good one.
The story goes, that my uncle Jimmy Corcoran had pigeons in a small courtyard at No 1 Barrack street in the centre of Carlow town, our ancestral home, their accommodation was a line of orange boxes, fixed to the wall in the yard of what was then the back wall of Brennan’s Pork shop.

At some point, around 1957/8 my grandmother had visitors to her home, and when they had seen the pigeons they could not understand how my grandmother allowed these things to be kept around the place, it was their opinion that there was nothing as unlucky to have around what was then a smallholding, with cattle and pigs on the premises, stating that there would never be a minutes peace around the place if she continued to allow pigeons to be kept in the yard.

It may be hard to understand now, but at that time people were quite suspicious about that sort of thing and they seldom ignored advice given in good faith. Within days, all the pigeons were disposed of and there was never any pigeons there again, nor did my uncle Jimmy ever get or even have any interest in pigeons from that day forward.

A few years later at the age of six, I became fascinated with pigeons, nothing and I mean nothing would detract from me having them, however, the previous experience was a huge obstruction, and my mother, being a widow woman didn’t want any hassle with the neighbours, and the oft quoted “pigeons are bad luck” rang in my ear for a further few years.
I was given rabbits, small birds and a dog, but none of these could sway me from the obsession of having pigeons. Even at that early age, I would venture off to look at pigeons on the roofs of their owners, Paddy Broomhall’s birds sitting on the high roof on Castle hill, Frank Archbold’s birds always looked immaculate and held my attention for hours on end.

Closer to home Tom Fleming had birds which rambled the gardens and we often had the odd one visit, only briefly but still long enough to hold my attention, I couldn’t get over the fascination of them. I would get street pigeons and house them in the now abandoned pig sheds at our home, but as soon as my mother would see them, they would have to go.

Eventually my mother agreed to my having birds but with the proviso that my two brothers Tony and Michael would be in charge of, 1] building a shed for them and 2] looking after the pigeons, not ideal from my point of view, but a lot closer to having pigeons of my own than I had been in the past, and, both of the boys were starting to work, so I would be spending more time than anyone with the pigeons. A few bob for a horse and cart load of used timber from the sugar factory, organised by our uncle Tommy, had the makings of a pigeon shed arriving up our back lane and ready to erect our new pigeon shed in no time, replacing the very small one that we had been initially allowed to have, I did say pigeon shed, as at that time the words pigeon loft were not in use as the name of a place that one kept pigeons, that would only come later, along with all the proper names for the different coloured pigeons that were available, i.e. a mealy was always known as a cream, a blue was called a crossbar and a dark velvet was referred to as a blue.

At last we had a pigeon shed in our own back garden, the lads were quite enthusiastic and therefore we had a lot of pigeons in no time, which suited me, but it wasn’t long before the storm clouds started to gather and that old wife’s tale of pigeons being bad luck would rise its ugly head again, but that’s a story for another day.

In the meantime I’ve put in a few photos of our place as it is now, fifty five years after the above, but the difference is we keep whatever and as many as we like, of whatever we like, with no one to answer to anymore.

Alpine Lofts Young birds relaxing in front of the loftjpg   Alpine Loftsjpg
Alpine Lofts, Young birds relaxing in front of the loft.

Alpine Lofts Cocks for racing this year. 2
Alpine Lofts, Cocks for racing this year. (2)

So as far as I’m concerned, dreams do come true.

Till the next time, take care and stay safe.