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Homers Odyssey - 09-03-21

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Homers Odyssey


Archive items captured by Homer -

Having retrieved all the major snips of information and reports plus results over the major races of 1976 season I will now check up on the meetings that took place prior to racing in 1977, one of the big events was the annual meeting of the Mighty NIPA and I am pleased to again feature the words of the late James Martin in his weekly column in the Ballymena Guardian, some memories, and more to follow. It was a big season to look forward to with the election of Tommy Harper of Ballymena & District as NIPA President and the decision made that the annual Ladies Night would be held in the local Adair Arms Hotel. I am sorting the archive out as I go along, there is plenty to sort from photographs, newspaper cuttings and a host of Weekly Books and Year Books. The scribe for the weekly Irelands Saturday Night was Martin Russell who had close contact with both NIPA and INFC, he was mostly first out with any news and some items from his column are part of my archive. Time is the big problem, but it is being worked at weekly, most of the old material is either on the website or being put on. I also need to spend some time updating the INFC History, click on the link on the top banner. Almost every week I learn something new, modern technology is a blessing.

bshnegroup Homers 09 03 21
What about this! Group photo from, a number of years back, another successful race year.

No Air Transport for OB Derby –

NIPA Secretary Sam Halliday received rude shock this past week when he was informed by the Air Transport Company who were entrusted with the convoying of the NIPA birds for the Old Bird Derby race from Dinard in France were no longer interested , and regrettably, could not fulfil their obligation in this respect. Although negotiations had reached an advanced stage they now wished to be relieved of the agreement. As the necessary papers and documentation to allow the entry of pigeons into France had already been requested by Major Lewis the General Manager of the RPRA. And finding alternative air transport at so short notice was just not possible. With the unfortunate circumstances prevailing, and time so vital, the committee decided that the only answer was road and boat transport. The convoy will now go in two of the NIPA transporters with approximately fifteen birds per crate with a possible Wednesday marking. Fanciers will be shocked to hear of this decision but in conversation with the happy NIPA Secretary S Halliday he convinced me that there was no other alternative – so its Road Transport for Dinard.

Around the same time the ISN correspondent Martin Russell reported on the passing of an icon of the sport.

Mr Pigeons – end of an era

This week the fancy suffered the loss of the greatest ambassador of the sport in Northern Ireland. The death of Mr William McCluggage sen,. marks the end of an era. Affectionately known as Mister Pigeons Billy, the last of the old brigade, devoted a lifetime to the fancy being Secretary of the Northern Ireland Provincial Amalgamation for 24 years. In fact, the late Mr McCluggage was instrumental in the formation of the NIPA which under his leadership has progressed and developed into one of the largest pigeon racing organisations in the world. On his retirement from the secretaryship, he was appointed President. Billy not only an able administrator, also achieved great success in the competitive field in partnership with his son. W McCluggage & Son (Larne) had a unique racing record being holders of the Queen’s Coronation Trophy an award presented annually by the RPRA for the most outstanding performance by any fancier in the United Kingdom. W McCluggage qualified for this award after the fine performance of “Inver King” their Kings Cup winner. The Racing Pigeon promotes a Silver Tie award which is presented for outstanding services to the fancy. Only two Silver Ties were ever held by Irish fanciers, Billy McCluggage and Nelson Corry. The late Mr McCluggage held many other prominent positions being a former President and Life Member of the Irish National Flying Club. For many years he was the Irish Delegate to the RPRA Council.

NIPA Committee report by James Martin as reported in Ballymena Guardian followed by the AGM of the RPRA (Irish Region).

The committee meeting of the NIPA was held in the Muckamore HPS Clubrooms last week and items for discussion were drivers and helpers for transporters, race card, rule book and Ladies Night. The Secretary Mr Halliday read out the minutes of the last meeting which were passed, and a discussion followed on the hiring of drivers and helpers for the seven transporters. Next item was the price of crates and it will come as no surprise to fanciers that the rate per crate has been increased. Crates to all race points will now be £2. This is a slight increase on last year and it works out at around 1p per bird. It was also decided that the club purchase a new calculator produced by Martin Russell. These were demonstrated at the Blackpool Olympiad and they were in great demand. The complete unit includes a print-out tape.

The make-up of the race cards and rule book was discussed in detail. The race cards have been slightly changed and these along with the rule book are now ready for the printers. It was decided that Larne would be the departure point for all cross-channel races. This is cheaper than travelling through a port in the South. The date for Ladies Night is Saturday November 19, and it will be held in Adair Arms Hotel in Ballymena. The meeting agreed that the chief guest would be a local personality.

The Secretary has now a consignment of brand new rubber race rings. These are selling at a very reasonable £6 per 1,000. A letter has been sent to the general manager at the RPRA Reddings asking for a new code number for the Dungarvan race point. This will be published when available and clubs are advised to make claim en-bloc for the new measurement.

Fanciers are reminded that the AGM of the Irish National Flying Club takes place on Saturday at Glenavy, starting at 2.30pm sharp. This column will carry a report on the meeting next week.

The annual general meeting of the Irish Region of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association took place in Halls Hotel Antrim on Saturday February 5. Once again, the attendance although an improvement on previous years was disappointing. Lyndon Boyle the President and Irish Region Delegate got the meeting off to a punctual start and in his opening remarks, made reference to the great loss the fancy had sustained by the recent deaths of William McCluggage and George McCartney, and to all others in the fancy who had passed on during the past year. Out of respect the meeting was asked to observe a minute’s silence.

The minutes of the last annual general meeting were read out and passed unanimously, as was the statement of the Income and Expenditure Account. The affiliated membership through the respective clubs is 4,204 and individual membership was 86. The auditing club was Portstewart HPS through their members A McKergan and J Burke. The balance in income over expenditure was £59.58.

Resignations were received from three clubs which were accepted, these being Cushendall, West Belfast and Cookstown & District. Prior to asking T Harper President of the NIPA to conduct the election of officers the out-going President thanked all concerned for their support afforded him during his term in office with the Irish Region. The re-election of Lyndon Boyle was again unanimous as President and Delegate, as was the Reserve Delegate Tommy Harper. He spoke of the calm assurances, and steady influence the President had on all the meetings which he conducted.

Mr H A Montgomery of Coleraine resigned from the RPRA representation on the INFC Committee, a position now to be filled by S Thompson of Coleraine & County Derry RPS with J O’Reilly appointed in place of the late George McCartney. Most of the committee were re-elected but some dissention arose on members being elected who were not in attendance. The RPRA are at present working on new trophies for the respective Centre Meritorious Award trophies with a uniformity in design for all the member Regions. Only two claims were received for 1976 Irish Region awards for the Haverfordwest and Weymouth races and they were J W & T Harper Ballymena 864 and McDonnell Portadown 856.

Two appeals were on the agenda. S Wilson v Coleraine & Co Derry and McCoy & Meredith v Newtownards HPS. The first appeal was in favour of the club, the second ruling went against the Newtownards HPS. Over £1,000 was raised to implement the Olympiad Show Fund at Blackpool by the sale of tickets and although no request was made the meeting decided to increase the salary of Secretary T Carlisle in appreciation, for the amount of dedication, and work Tommy puts into the administration of the Irish Region.

A very lengthy discussion ensued on the question of stray birds that were not claimed as per RPRA Rules, also the lack of co-operation from the IHU Secretary when these irregularities are reported. The meeting terminated at 6.30pm. 

Broughshane & District 2008 Prize Night at Michelin -

The Michelin Athletic Club in Ballymena was the venue once again for the Annual Dinner and Prize Distribution of Broughshane & District HPS. On Saturday 29th November a very good attendance of around 70 members and friends were welcomed by Secretary Harry Smyth. They were soon seated to enjoy a very enjoyable four course meal. After the meal the chairman on behalf of the club thanked the chef Charlie and his staff for a top-class meal and excellent service, he also thanked the Michelin Athletic Club for the use of the premises. The many sponsors were thanked including Tom and Betty Service and all those who helped during the race season.

group08 Homers 09 03 21
The Broughshane & Dist winners and officials who attended the 2008 prize night.

As is always the tradition of the club, a member’s wife is the special guest and Mrs Fiona Connolly was invited to present the awards won during racing in 2008. After a vote of thanks’ the Treasurer Davy Houston presented her with a bouquet of flowers in appreciation. The club raffle was again very successful, and Davy thanked all those who gave prizes or helped in any way to make the night a top success. He especially thanked the Secretary for having the cups and trophies all looking well on the night and the proceedings that were organized to the highest level. It was then on for a night of chat and dancing and the large turn-out enjoyed themselves till it was time for home.

Club Averages: The leading lofts for the season were: J & N Simpson, D Houston & Son, G & A Eagleson, H Smyth & Son, G Connolly, A Purvis, G Martin, Mrs M Smyth, T & E Service, J McNaughton & Son, J Getty and C Kennedy. OB Inland Ave (S McFarland Cup) - G & A Eagleson Vel 1455. Runner-up, D Houston & Son Vel 1450. OB Cross Channel Ave (Mazda Cup) - J & N Simpson Vel 1267. Runner-up, G Martin Vel 1119. YB Average (Montgomery Cup - G & A Eagleson Vel 1283. Runner-up, J & N Simpson Vel 1267. Combine Ave (W Ramsey Cup - J & N Simpson Vel 1316. Best Ave All Derbies (Thatch Trophy) - J & N Simpson Vel 1269. Old Bird Points (Countryman Trophy) - J & N Simpson 79 Points. Lowest Winning Velocity (Johnston Cup) - D Houston & Son Vel 1043. Breeder & Buyer Race - D Houston & Son, Breeder & Buyer. Highest Prize-winner (J Robinson Memorial Cup) - J & N Simpson.

eagleson Homers 09 03 21
George Eagleson collects his MAC Diploma from special guest Mrs Fiona Connolly.

Club Nomination Races 2008: Sennen Cove O/B (T Ramsey Memorial Cup) - T & E Service. Bude Best Yearling (Broughshane Club Trophy) - D Houston & Son. Talbenny (1) O/B (Jubilee Cup) - J & N Simpson. Mullingar (2) Y/B (Youth Fellowship Cup) - D Houston & Son. Roscrea Y/B (Harper Cup) - J Getty. Pilmore Beach Y/B (Dickson Cup) - D Houston & Son. Clonmel Y/B Golden Ring (Clydes Kitchen Cup) - J & N Simpson. Bird of the Year (W Workman Memorial Plint) - J & N Simpson. His 3yo Blue Cheq hen won 3rd Club Talbenny (1), 1st Club Talbenny (2), 1st Club Bude (Also 1st MAC & 1st Sect B) and 5th Club Sennen Cove.

service Homers 09 03 21
President Tom Service collects the Sennen Cove Nom Cup from Fiona.

NIPA Old Birds 2008: Navan 215 Birds/Vel 1589 (T Bamber Memorial Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 19th Combine. Tullamore 250 Birds/Vel 1043 (W Taylor Memorial Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 3rd Combine. Roscrea 289 Birds/Vel 1667 (McCabe Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 12th Combine. Clonmel 292 Birds/Vel 1806 (McAllister Shield) - H Smyth & Son 1st Club & 9th Combine. Pilmore Beach 273 Birds/Vel 1379 (Broughshane Trophy) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club, 1st Combine & 1st Sect B. Rosscarbery Inland Derby 56 Birds/Vel 1492 (Lyttles Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club, 9th Comb & 136th Open. Pilmore Beach 227 Birds/Vel 1158 (Village Cup) - H Smyth & Son 1st Club & 10th Combine. Talbenny (1) 150 Birds/Vel 1201 (Ballymena Utd Social Club Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 14th Combine. Talbenny (2) 84 Birds/Vel 1317 (Club Shield) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 28th Combine. Fermoy (comeback) 68 Birds/Vel 1478 (Tuff Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 8th Combine. Bude 45 Birds/Vel 1237 (Halfway House Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club, 1st Combine & 1st Sect B. Sennen Cove 66 Birds/Vel 1309 (McCreadie Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club, 15th Comb & 120th Open. St Malo O/B Derby 11 Birds/Vel 617 French Challenge Cup and Reade Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 14th Combine.

NIPA Young Birds 2008: Navan 98 Birds/Vel 1352 (Slemish Tavern Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 27th Combine. Mullingar 229 Birds/Vel 1417 (Olympic Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 11th Combine. Tullamore 246 Birds/Vel 1696 (Fir Park Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 5th Combine. Roscrea 171 Birds/Vel 1310 (Civic Cup) - G Martin 1st Club & 25th Combine. Tullamore 131 Birds/Vel 1618 (Fleming Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 17th Combine. Pilmore Beach 195 Birds/Vel 1216 (Hazlett Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 15th Combine. Mullingar/Talbenny Derby 20 Birds/Vel 1390 (Smyth Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 15th Combine. Tullamore (comeback) 80 Birds/Vel 1318 (Clarke Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 2nd Combine. Fermoy 89 Birds/Vel 1159 (Davidson Shield) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 15th Combine. Rosscarbery Derby 26 Birds/Vel 1155 (R Fleck Memorial Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 35th Combine.

trio Homers 09 03 21
From (l) George Eagleson winner YB Ave, Harry Smyth Secretary and Johnny Simpson Highest Prize-winner.

Irish Nat Flying Club 2008: Skibbereen North O/B Nat (Braid Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 10th Combine. Yearling Nat Sennen Cove (W Quaite Memorial Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club, 5th Comb & 51st Open. O/B Kings Cup (J Graham Memorial Cup) - Race Cancelled. Y/B Nat Sennen Cove (Youngs Cup) - No birds timed. Y/B Nat Skibbereen North (Club Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 9th Comb.

groupold1 Homers 09 03 21
Another dinner presentation for Broughshane a few years back. 

Hopefully we will have the 2020 report shortly in the meantime this short report will please one of my weekly readers, retired from the sport but still keeping up with my news reports.

sandy mairs Homers 09 03 21
Sandy Mairs of Millvale with his pigeon Barcelona Bluebelle, the first ever Irish pigeon to fly 1,000 miles when it flew 1,001 miles from Barcelona in 1965!

BHW/INFC Single Bird Challenge 2021 -

As usual the last day for accepting entries for the single bird challenge will be 17th March. All entries stand from last season, if anyone wants to change their previous entry they can send a new one, with no fee required, to the address below. Any new members wishing to enter the challenge should send all details to me, with a £5/€7 fee payable to INFC, David Black, 11 Drumiller Hill, Dromore, Co. Down, BT25 1EP.

Obituary – Mr Sammy Thompson

I Just had the sad news over the weekend that Sammy Thompson from Bushmills had passed away, just a few short weeks after the passing of his wife Edith, his funeral was held on Tuesday. Sammy was a very highly respected member of the fancy and served the members for many years in the various Committees of the sport. He was the man for the meeting’s, and I remember him from away back, I travelled with him many times over the years starting out at the time when the late Davy Campbell and Anthony McDonnell were prominent members. In recent years he had retired but still attended the odd meeting, he knew the rules and procedures, in great detail. He was a Live Vice-President in the Irish National Flying Club, a Vice President and Patron of the Mighty NIPA and in the RPRA (Irish Region) also a Life Vice-President having served at the Irish Region for many years and in recent seasons had stood down as one of the two local RPRA Councillors which probably gave him, the greatest enjoyment. We had some time with him at the Blackpool Show of the Year in 2017 when Rosie and my-self were guests of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. Sammy just lived for the pigeons, especially the meetings where he had a good head for problem solving. On behalf of the whole fancy in Ireland, and members of the INFC, NIPA and RPRA (Irish Region) we send sincere condolences to the entire family circle at what had been a very-sad time. Willie Reynolds.

NIPA Race programme 2021 -

This is the proposed agreed race programme for 2021. I do not have to remind you that this programme could be amended at any time. There is an application from Glen HPS to become members for 2021, this application has firstly to be approved by the RPRA (Irish Region).

NIPA Old Birds – Saturday 11th April Mullingar. Saturday 17th April Tullamore, Saturday 24th April Roscrea, Saturday 1st May Gowran Park, Saturday 8th May Fermoy, Saturday 15th May Castletown, Saturday 22nd May Barleycove Inl National, Saturday 22nd May Fermoy, Saturday 29th May Talbenny, Saturday 5th June Talbenny, Saturday 5th June Fermoy OB 5Bird Duplicating, Saturday 12th June Bude, Saturday 12th June Skibbereen Yearling National, Saturday 19th June Penzance & Penzance OB Classic, Saturday 19th June Fermoy, Thursday 24th June St Malo/Plougastel OB National.

NIPA Young Birds – Saturday 17th July Area Liberations, Saturday 24th July Area Liberations, Saturday 31st July Roscrea (Mass Lib), Saturday 7th August Gowran Park, Saturday 14th August Fermoy, Saturday 21st August Fermoy & Fermoy YB 5Bird, Saturday 28th August Talbenny YB National, Saturday 28th August Roscrea, Saturday 4th September Corrin, Saturday 11th September Skibbereen YB Inl National.

INFC Race Programme 2021 -

The 2020 proposed race programme will also remain with revised 2021 dates.  This will once again be subject to any restrictions in place. Skibbereen Old Bird Tuesday 25th May, Sennen Cove Yearling Nat Wednesday 9th June, St Allouestre Kings Cup Friday 2nd July, Plougastel-Daoulas or Lamballe Friendship Nat Friday 9th July, Penzance YB Grand Nat Wednesday 1st September, Skibbereen Young Bird Saturday 18th September.  The management committee plan a review of the situation in mid / end of March when hopefully they will be in a position, to make informed decisions on the way forward for the 2021 season.

HOMER. Willie Reynolds

Tel/Fax: (028) 256 44683

Mobile: 07538 238364

Twitter: willie reynolds@homerbhw>

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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