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Homers Odyssey - 30-03-21

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Homers Odyssey

Archive from the Homer Collection –

Over recent weeks I completed the racing season of 1976 and some of the major meetings and decisions taken prior to racing in 1977, from what I see it was a season that had less coverage and the Britain’s Year Book for 1978 that reviewed the previous years performances and results had no Irish Section. It was around the same period that we had the loss of pigeon photographer and Gazette scribe Millar McAllister, the quality of his photos and reports were exceptional.

It was the first time I came across the photo-copies of the NIPA results, 10 positions published for each Sect i.e.. A, B, C, D and E at that time and 10 positions in the NIPA Open with upwards of 30,000 birds. Don’t think that would be appreciated in today’s racing, although it’s all done now with computers and the NIPA have a Top 300 in all the races. The opening race of 1977 was flown from Arklow on 14th April some 2031 members sent 20,952 birds and 1st Open NIPA was won by Reynolds & Creighton of Dollingstown doing velocity 1637. The various 1st Sect winners were Sect A 247/1738 L Thompson Colerainer Premier 1577, Sect B 292/3166 N Rea Crumlin 1622, Sect C Hamilton & Clements Invermore 1621, Sect D 536/5605 A O’Rourke & Son Lisburn, Sect E 544/6232 Reynolds & Creighton Dollingstown 1637.

As part of HM The Queens Jubilee Celebrations in 1977 the late L O Barr and myself put forward to the INFC annual meeting that we have a race and it was decided I think at a later stage to arrange a Yearling National, it was so successful that the next year we had it on the agenda to make the race a permanent part of the race programme and today it remains one of the best supported and successful as well with many records set. Martin Russell in his column in ISN reported a Jubilee Success! The holiday period has played havoc with the result service, the majority being received too late for publication and these will be included next week. From the grapevine its rumoured that William McIlroy from Ballymena will be the overall winner of the NIPA 2nd Haverfordwest event. Gale force winds at Weymouth early Tuesday morning held up the start of the INFC Jubilee yearling race. As weather conditions improved liberation took place at 5.30am on Wednesday morning. North westerly winds were forecast over most of the route and a hard race was expected. Leading birds however made good time and the overall winner z Black Ch Pied cock was clocked by Toland & Campbell of Bleary at 14.06hrs. One of the furthest flying members Russell Bros of Cullybackey clocked a Blue Cheq hen to take the runner-up position from an entry of 1285 birds.

INFC Jubilee Yearling Weymouth – Toland & Campbell Bleary 1055.6, Russell Bros Cullybackey 1055.1, W Lowry & Son Broughshane 1048, J Norwood & Son Lisburn 1046, Mallon Bros Lisburn 1046, J Patterson & Son Muckamore 1045, S Adams & Son Lambeg 1036, J & C Jess Dromara 1032, T & D Mills Larne 996, G Burrell & Sons Lurgan 992, V Reid & Son Dromore 992, R J Elliott Ballymoney 990, W Livingstonw Cullybackey 988, W Hartin Coleraqine 985, Laughlin Bros Antrim 983, J Cameron Harryville 983, J Anderson Cullybackey 976, A Greenwood Cullybackey 972, G Glenholmes Cullybackey 971, G Burrell & Sons Lurgan 970.

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 The NIPA Prize Card front cover 1977.

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The NIPA Cup & Trophy winners 1977. 

In the same week Martin Russell reported on the Vaux International sponsored event from Falaise in France with fanciers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland taking part. It’s That Man again! Yes, Tommy Harper of Ballymena undoubtedly Ireland’s Supreme Fancier. For years Tommy has been knocking on the door in National events with performances such as 2nd Redon, 3rd Nantes, 4th Dinard etc and at last his name will now be engraved on a National Trophy in the year he is Club President. When one considers the wintry conditions of last Saturday it’s almost incredible that Tommy clocked a two year old Chequer cock at 6.41pm day of toss to win 1st Irish Section in the Vaux International. This bird is a son of last season’s big winner of 1st Sect & 4th Open NIPA Dinard and was basketed for Falaise in the exact same nesting condition as his sire. That was feeding a fourteen-day old squeaker and his hen just laid. One wonders, is Tommy going to better last year’s breath-taking performances when his total winnings exceeded £4,000. J R McCracken & Son of Banbridge a hardy annual in this event clocked the only other bird on the day of toss to win 2nd Open. Raymond also clocked another bird early Sunday morning to finish 6th Open. The convoy was released at 6.15am on 11th June 1977 in a south west wind.

Vaux International Race Falaise (Irish Section) 126/195 – J W & T Harper Ballymena 1153, J R McCracken & Son Banbridge 1031, W Clements & Son Portadown 610, B McKee Holywood 600, J R McCracken & Son Banbridge 589, J & J Hollinger Bangor 588, Benson Bros Annsborough 568, S Wilkinson Hillfoot 564, Savage Bros Castledawson 563, J Walker & Son Monkstown 554, G McNeilly Ballyclare 553, A Marshall & Son Castlereagh 525, J Wright Kells 518, A S Inglis Castledawson 515, McGimpsey Bros Newtownards 512, D Scott Crumlin 509, J B McMullan & Son Crossgar 506, A Walkingsway & Son Killyleagh 504, J Waugh Newtownards 473, R Patton Muckamore 439.

More to follow including the Kings Cup success for George Lyons with a record velocity at the time.

Three club presentation at Broughshane –

Over 120 members and friends attended the joint Muckamore HPS, Antrim Combine and Antrim Amalgamated annual prize distribution held in late October 1978 in Tullymore House in Broughshane. Chief guests at the top table with the officials of the three clubs were Mr & Mrs Grainger. I believe Mr Grainger has pigeons in his blood being a nephew of the illustrious Charlie Neill of Bangor. After an excellent meal the Muckamore Secretary Robert Patton proposed a toast to the ladies present after which Mr Mailey replied. Officer Gorman then proposed a toast to the guests and in a rousing speech John Greer replied.

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The prize winners of Muckamore, Antrim Amal and the Antrim Combine at the annual dinner held in Tullymore House Hotel.

Stanley Glendinning the Muckamore Chairman paid tribute to the efforts put in by the club members during the last year. A very generous donation was made to the wife of the late Millar McAllister and through the efforts of Ken Wilkinson who arranged a sale of gift birds £600 was presented to Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

The top racing loft of the year was J Patterson & Son who were top prize-winners in all three clubs, breaking all records for cash and positions won. They topped Section C on three occasions and also topping the same Section C through the year was W & S Bones. Lofts who topped Section B included Syd Montgomery, Ernie Pankhurst, D J Thompson, R McKelvey & Son and also mentioned were the lofts that had scored in the big National and Derby events.

Mrs Grainger presented the cups including a new Rose Bowl presented by Mr McOlroy for Dungarvan and won this year by Denis Hanlon. Farm Feeds Cup for 3 Nationals won by Hanlon & Lavery, Patterson Cup for Penzance Nat won by E Pankhurst. W B Law Cup for Kings Cup Rennes won by Hanlon & Lavery. W Clarke Cup for Haverford Derby won by Thompson Bros. Houston Trophy for Skibbereen Derby won by R McKelvey & Son. Grainger Trophy for Weymouth won by S Montgomery. Young Bird Ave won by Thompson Bros. Hall Tankard for Dublin (1) & (2) won by K Wilkinson & Son. Old Bird Knock-out won by W M Thompson. Gibson Pacemaker Cup for Skibbereen Nat won by E Pankhurst.

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Guests at the Muckamore and Antrim presentation include Mr R Buckley, Mr J Sinton and Mr W Beattie. In the front row are Mrs P Sinton, Mrs V Murphy and Mrs R Buckley.

J Patterson & Son won the following – Okehampton Trophy, McCombe Cup, Young Bird Knock-out, Inland Points, S Montgomery Cup, and McCabe Cup.

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Mr & Mrs Tommy Patterson with two of the many trophies the J Patterson & Son loft as Highest Prize-winners in Muckamore, Antrim Combine and Antrim Amalgamated.

Mrs Goudy presented Mrs Grainger with a bouquet and she thanked the members for inviting both her husband and herself to the function. The Top 8 in the prize list were as follows. J Patterson & Son £116, S Montgomery £60, W M Thompson £34, Thompson Bros £30, K Wilkinson & Son £28, W & S Bones £26, R J Goudy £26, E Pankhurst £22. Thirteen lofts shared smaller amounts.

Mrs Glendinning then presented The Antrim Combine Cups assisted by Secretary R J Goudy. McKinney 2nd Arklow OB won by J Patterson & Son. Marberry 1st Wexford OB won by S Montgomery. Clark 2nd Wexfiord OB won by J Patterson & Son. Adams 1st Haverfordwest won by J Patterson & Son. McGugan 2nd Haverfordwest won by W M Thompson. Minford Okehampton won by J Patterson & Son. Baird Weymouth won by S Montgomery. Kirk OB Average not won. Burrows 2nd Arklow YB won by W M Thompson. McCabe 1st Wexford YB won by J Patterson & Son. Murphy 2nd Wexford YB won by A Ashe & Sons. Rea YB Average won by Thompson Bros. The prize-winning list here reads – J Patterson & Son £59, S Montgomery £31, Thompson Bros £17, R J Goudy £17, W & S Bones £14, Eleven other lofts shared smaller amounts.

Mrs McVeigh presented the Antrim Amalgamated cups assisted by Secretary Tom McMillan. Top prize-winners J Patterson & Son win Old Bird Inland Average, Castle Cup, McIlroy Cup, J Jones Cup, S Montgomery Trophy, Kilbegs Cup, Feeding Trophy, Millar Cup, H Fleming Cup and a new one this year presented by Victor McDonald. Second up Syd Montgomery won – Steeple Cup, Luke & Clark Cup, and J Patterson & Son Cup. The rest of the cups went to the following. R Mailey – A Kane, S Montgomery Trophy and Carson McCrum. R J Goudy – Riverside, McMaster Memorial and Antrim Amal. Finally C Close & Son – win J Lowery and H J McCabe. The Officer Gorman Special for the lowest winning velocity was won by Maurice Agnew who had the only bird in the three clubs from the Avaranches Old Bird Derby. The larger than ever show season kicked off with the opening classes judged in Kells (197 birds) and Harryville (120 birds) for the young cocks through the wires. A Simpson & G Kissick from Randalstown placed the cards in Kells with the Red Card winner W McClure while in Harryville the judges from Muckamore were K Wilkinson and O Gorman with Russell Bros winning 1st & 2nd.

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Russell Bros from Cullybackey won the opening show of the season in Harryville (1978) collecting the award from the Muckamore judges K Wilkinson second from left and on the right Officer Gorman with W Wilkinson at the front. 

Cullybackey Flying Club presentation 1978 –

The continue with the notes published in his Ballymena Guardian column the words of the late Jimmy Martin who also at the time contributed to the BHW writing under the pen name od Provincial. One of the best supported annual dinner and prize distributions it has been my pleasure to attend was on Friday 27th October 1978 when, with the Mayor and Mayoress, Alderman and Mrs S Spence, Mr & Mrs T Harper and my wife and I were guests of the Cullybackey Flying Club at their annual dinner and prize distribution in Tullymore House, Broughshane.

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Ballymena Mayor Alderman Sandy Spence presents Mr W Russell with his trophy at the Cullybackey Flying Club annual dinner. Included are L Russell, J Blaney secretary and J Russell.

One hundred and forty members and friends attended and Tommy Harper said grace after which we all enjoyed a nice five course dinner. The Chairman Len Russell welcomed all to the occasion especially the guests, and hoped everyone would have an enjoyable evening. Maring reference to outstanding performances by their members during the past season, although not in their club he highlighted the great win by J W & T Harper in the Blue Riband YB National from Penzance.

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The top table take their places at the Cullybackey FC presentation held in the Tullymore House in Brioughshane, November 1978.

The Mayoress then presented the cups and trophies won during the season and with the two recently donated by the Russell Family and Harkness Bros a fine array of silverware was on view. Russell Bros took three of the cups, these being for the Best Ave Haverford (10 & (2), the Highest Prize-winners and the Inland Average. The S Moore Cup for Weymouth was won by James Anderson. The S Reid Memorial Cup and Cross Channel Average Cup was won by Davy Moore. Sammy Smyth won the Old Bird Average Cup. The R McIlwaine Trophy went to Alfie Greenwood. The recently donated cup for the Best Ave in Dungarvan races was also won by S Smyth. The Okehampton Cup and the Young Bird Derby Cup were won by W Reid who also took the Points Shield for all the young bird races, with the Luke & Lyle Cup and YB Average Cup going to Alfie Greenwood. The Novice Weymouth Cup was won by M Logan while Novice Cup for best performance in the Young Bird Derby was taken by Gage Bros. The prize money was handed over by Mrs T Harper and this reached the grand total of £409, an increase of £100 from the season previous with 41 of the 61 members sharing in the prize list. The first 12 to the table were – Russell Bros, W Reid, J Anderson, A Greenwood, D Moore, Harkness Bros, S Smyth, D Robinson, A Darragh, S Herbinson & Son, B Lynn, and John Blaney. The Mayor and James Martin wished the club every success in the future and urged that members support their office bearers – Len Russell Chairman, Alfie Greenwood Treasurer, and Secretary John Blaney. I was glad to see that the Cullybackey FC had not overlooked the unlimited help given to John by Mrs Blaney to whom a presentation was made.

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Group of prize winners at the Cullybackey FC welcome the Mayor of Ballymena Alderman Sandy Spence.

With prize giving formalities dispersed with the rest of the evening was enjoyed on the dance floor to a very good group. The club here would like to pay a special mention to these boys for taking on this engagement almost at the last minute. When the feet got sore a break was made for drawing of the prizes by Mr & Mrs Martin. The first draw being for £50, £30, and £20. The second raffle of over 20 prizes had been donated by members and village business people, these ranged from a tin of motor oil to a ladies hair do.

The past season has been one of outstanding success for this club, the largest in Section B of the Mighty NIPA. Their members won two 1st Sect Diplomas, B Lynn doing the needful from Arklow and W Reid from Okehampton. J Blaney also took a runner-up prize in the Section. Still on the old birds J Anderson and Sandra Balmer had great races in the INFC Yearling National race and well to the fore in the Old Bird National. In the YB Derby from Haverfordwest four of the club members had birds in the Top 20 in Sect B, the New North race also flown from there was won by their member C L Mairs with Alan Darragh clocking three good birds to win 2nd, 8th and 11th with J Martin taking 10th position. W Allen, D Robinson, G Glenholmes and T McAlonan kept the club in the limelight from Penzance in the Young Bird National, so in all a good season for the village club who wish to thank the business people, for their help in providing the prizes for a very successful raffle.

NEWS UPDATE: RPRA HQ has moved to: Bizspace Corinium House Corinium Avenue Barnwood Gloucester GL4 3HX Any post sent to The Reddings will also be forwarded. Ian Evans CEO.

Fred Russell received in the post a New General licence from DAERA. This licence appears to allow us to have bird gathering for Racing Pigeons in Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland with certain restrictions which must be adhered to. Reading through it small transporters will have to keep records for up to 12 months of all members and their pigeons and fanciers must have their Dard Number.

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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