On the banks of the Lee
As I begin to pen this article the great fall of 2021 has already begun and signs of Autumn/Winter are now in full view. After an exceptionally warm few weeks during summer the temperatures have finally fallen back to a more normal scenario. Indeed we ourselves had to be cautious with the high temperatures and we 'the pigeon fanciers' had to be even more cautious and vigilant of our birds welfare in order to avoid dehydration, heat stress etc. Lately, we are entertaining a fair bit of mild weather still and with the occasional sunny day thrown in, we try not to complain. With the nights sharply shortening evidence of the great fall is very noticeable within the lofts with an abundance of snow feather and flights visibly accumulating on a daily basis. As the birds reach the latter stages of the moult they will cast their final primary flights and regrow their tails. All fanciers like to see their birds have a good clean healthy Moult and with patience we await for their Sunday suit to arrive!
The beautiful River Lee in all it's glory.
Moulting is a natural process and can be a clear indicator of the pigeons health. A good moult is, I believe, of paramount importance if we are to stand any chance come spring. For some birds this can also be quite a stressful time too. The process of replacing the previous years feather takes both time and energy for our feathered friends to complete. Different and many things can influence the moult and from a natural perspective light and temperature certainly play their part. The natural positioning of our planet within the solar system and our position with the planet dictates the cards we are dealt.
Global warming is now a very big warning for all species on planet Earth and particularly humans who are primarily responsible for this warming. The effects of our planet's temperature rising even ever so slightly can have devastating consequences. The changing of the season from spring through to winter plays a major part on influencing the hormones of the pigeon triggering the moulting process. But in saying that I'm well aware that these are not the only trigger factors involved in the moulting process and the moult can be influenced by the fanciers decision making also.
Some fanciers have their own system that suits their requirements, others may not wish to entertain the same system. These things make the sport interesting, different systems, different ideas and difference of opinion are all part of the sport and indeed in life in general. There are many theories that exist and opinions can be divided. Regards to the well-known young bird darkness system I must say I did contemplate trying the system on a few occasions but I have up until today opted to remain with the natural system. In saying that I am not going to rule out a possible change going forward, time will tell. Obviously enough it is the fanciers own personal preference whatever system one feels is right for him/her.
Recently I conducted a poll survey and I would like to share the result. I asked a question for the fanciers that practiced or previously practiced the darkness system. The question asked was as follows.....
Do the darkness young birds race well the following season as yearlings?
There were 3 choice optional answers.
No1. yes they do............
No2. No they don't.........
and No3. No different to the natural yearlings..........
And the result was in no doubt very clear with 48 votes stating No1, 7 votes No2 and 5 votes for No3. Although the poll was not of big participation it is evident from this result that the darkness youngsters do fly well as yearlings although the poll didn't identify whether they were found to fly well on land or across the water but interesting never the less and food for thought.
Staying on the darkness subject, one of Cork city's old hand fanciers recently expressed to me that in his opinion he felt that in order to compete in the longer and later YB races, darkening is a must, informing me that the darkened young birds possessed superior physical development accompanied by an immaculate body armour and a full wing. This was for sure, he felt, an advantage over the moulting natural young birds. Seasons, light and temperature doesn't just have an effect on birds moulting, it has from the beginning of time been having a say in some way or another on all creatures great and small.
The great animal migrations throughout the world are a prime example of seasonal events and changes. Staying just a moment longer on the subject of moulting. The pigeons wing especially the longer primary flights or as some like to call it the big moult (last 3 to 4) tends to use up a lot of the pigeons energy and we should do our best to help them over the line during this period. Again there's really nothing new here and this has always been natures way of doing things. Nature dictates the pattern and cycle of all life, it always has and always will do.
As we started this article mentioning the great fall, I would like to pay a small tribute to two great gentlemen fanciers who have recently themselves fallen and departed this life for the next. I would like to take this opportunity to momentarily rewind the clock back prior to the 2021 season commencing. Unfortunately during the spring the Cork pigeon fraternity had to sadly say goodbye to another fabulous member and character of our great pigeon racing family. In the month of March, the big man decided to come calling and on this occasion he was to call upon the great Peter Morrissey. Peter was very well known to us all and from a personal point of view I always admired Peter. Peter was a quite type of man who carried an abundance of personality and possessed a beautiful temperament. Peter was a very decent human being. He was a good natured intelligent man and was much loved and liked by all who met him over the years. Peter was a great character and worked hard all his life working for Jim Cummins and family plasterers whom are also a big part of the Cork pigeon racing family. Peter was quite a unique individual in his own way and was always around the pigeons in one way or another. Peter was always on hand and would be there to help out be it at the club or on a personal level, no questions asked. Peter had many, many friends connected via the pigeon sport.
The late great Peter Morrissey
Unfortunately in August 2018 one of Peter's best friends and one of his greatest allies was also to be called upon to make his final journey. This gentleman was the great Seanie Fielding. Seanie was actually married to Peter's sister so they were in actual fact brother in laws. Seanie, I have to say was also a thorough gentleman too and a great family man through and through. Not just were Seanie and Peter great pigeon men but they were also great committee men. On a personal level I have many nice memories as a young boy talking to both Seanie & Peter on Mount Nebo Avenue, Gurranabraher. Peter and Seanie both played a very active part on the local pigeon racing scene here in Cork.
The late great Seanie Fielding
They were both very honourable gentlemen and were very dedicated to their sport. In doing so they held various committee positions throughout their time, Peter in the role of treasurer and Seanie in the chairman's seat being also a classy clocksetter in his day. To their credit they were always involved in some way or another, nothing being too much and always there to help out or advise. Peter and Seanie were in a class of their own. Unfortunately, these type of characters we will never see the likes of again. Peter Morrissey and Seanie Fielding without a shadow of a doubt will be deeply missed by their family, friends and all the pigeon fanciers in Cork and beyond. On behalf of the Cork pigeon Fraternity I would like to offer our deepest condolences to Peter and Seanie's family. They will never be forgotten, may they rest in peace. I hope we who remain can continue to make strides forward from where these great gentlemen have left off. I think it's well known at this stage my thoughts on Cork racing and I won't be persuaded away from my view point in which I believe that we should all be racing together regardless of anything. I also believe that in order for anything to be achieved no stone should be left unturned and correct procedure needs to be carried out from the outset.
The late Seanie Fielding & Peter Morrissey
Moving on, and on this occasion I have included a variety of photographs in this article including some great Cork locations and equally some great Cork fanciers with more to be revealed. On the subject of locations I wonder at times do we actually see what magnificent beauty is actually sitting almost upon our doorsteps. The beautiful scenic byways and walkways throughout this land can bring us an abundance of pleasure, enjoyment and tranquillity.
A beautiful view from Cork City looking up towards Gurranabraher covering the North mall, Popes quay area from below & Gurranabraher church.
Corcaigh, Corks Fitzgerald Park & the famous Dalys (Shaky) Bridge
The famous Lee fields Grotto & The magnificent Youghal Strand
I recently walked our local and very well-known Nash's Boreen. One really has to walk it on a good day to appreciate what it has to offer. Nash's as it called by some is a very old Boreen byway and is around 2km of walkway from start to finish. Set in close proximity to the city's northside, Nash's Boreen possesses some spectacular views from a higher altitude providing some panoramic scenery looking mostly north but a little west and east for good measure. On a good day, the Galtee mountains both more and beag can be seen. Nash's Boreen is part of an old ancient byway network. This network linked from outside the city into the city and in the older times the Boreen was used by the friars who used to walk from the old Monastary at Gillabby to the old ruined church in Lower Killeens.
Welcome to Nash's Boreen
To add to this conversation I recently came across a beautiful poem about Nashs Boreen which was written by a man by the name of Denis Twohig. I think most people will enjoy the poem and will relate to the story within the poem. I have attached the poem in a photograph and I hope all our readers enjoy it.
Back to the pigeons and what lies ahead for our beloved sport I cannot foretell. It's destiny I believe is to some degree in our own hands & I just hope that we can all try play our part in doing our bit to help the sport.
As mentioned previously I have attached many photographs to today's article and If I'm honest this is just a small portion of the Rebel fancy. The talent on offer within the Cork pigeon scene, both city and county is in my eyes as good as it gets anywhere. We have been blessed with gifted fanciers over the years down here in Cork (The real Capitol) and we still are blessed to this day with the vast array of talent still amongst us and long may it last. Whether its North, South, East or West of Cork, you will find dedication to our wonderful hobby. Trust me the fanciers participating in today's article are only the tip of the iceberg and I hope to reveal much more of the iceberg in due course.
The legend himself, Mr. Tony O' Mahony pictured with his grandson Darragh. Hopefully another young fancier in the making and no better man to show him the ropes than Tony.
Charles Foley of Mr & Mrs C Foley and family, pictured with their before and after loft project photos. Must say what a fabulous result, top class and well worth the effort. Well done indeed and best of luck to the newly named partnership for next season.
Liam O'Sullivan pictured here with his fantastic pigeon now named Emily's Lass after Liam's grandaughter. Emily's Lass in 2021 was to bring Liam his 2nd national victory after winning 1st section D and 1st open National Pembroke docks old bird race with the Irish homing Union National flying club. Well done Liam. Emily's Lass 1st section D and 1st open National Pembroke Docks.
Willie and Mark Long two up and coming fanciers having a great season 2021 pictured here with Willie holding their blue w/f cock winner of the old bird Enniscorthy race and Mark holding their cheq cock flown Sennon Cove 2021. Very well done.
The famous Jimmy Willis, Nora Willis and Nick Apostu. All smiles here in Mallow after timing in from Perth 2021 flying 362 miles taking 1st and 3rd Cork fed. Very well done & Nora and Jimmy Willis. Again smiling mad in Mallow after timing in their two pigeons from Mauchline in Scotland flying 293 miles and being the only 2 birds clocked on the day. Very well done. A special mention to Nick Apostu who I believe has been a fabulous addition to the pigeon family and boy is he keen!
Youghal racing pigeon club. Youghal is a superbly ran club and a club that possesses some superb fanciers. I would go as far to say some of the best fanciers in the country are found in Youghal & Youghals 100th year anniversary night pictured here at the celebrations were from L to R. Timmy Fitzgerald, Martin Kelly, Tony Hennessy, Mayor of Youghal- Mary Linehan Foley, Billy Kelly, Paddy Kelly, Nathan Foley and Paddy Hehir
Saturday night special in Youghal G.A.A. Whom very much to their credit always facilitate the pigeon club. Pictured here having a great night are Johnny Kiely, John McGrath, Debbie, Will Roche, Tara Roche, Ger Roche and wife, Paddy Kelly and Jay Quinn.
Pictured at the famous Lier Market, Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Cahill and Frankie Dalton
Cork's Larry Morey and Bill O'Hare practicing their social distancing skills!
Kenneth O'Donoghue and son Kenneth holding Ellen another great performer in the O'Doneghue loft and another great season for Ken and son. What an introduction this fancier has made. Ken is steeped in pigeon Dna and by God is it showing. Well done & Kenneth O'Doneghue senior, Kenneth junior and Ellen.
Tony healy & Bill O'Hare. Tony Healys great blue hen, flown channel 3 times. This year this beautiful hen was 2nd club, 14th National Sennon Cove for Tony. Last year she was the only bird on the day in what turned out to be very poor weather conditions finishing 1st club, 1st section on that occasion.
Tony Healys fantastic blue cock, 2nd time across the channel and after the birds were moved this year from Penzance to Sennon Cove due to the G7 meeting. This cracking blue cock was to be timed and recorded to take 1st club, 1st section and 2nd National Sennon Cove old birds with the Irish Homing Union National flying club. Tony to his credit is always super competitive and is never far away nor was he in this occasion. Very well done Tony.
Denis Wall of the Wall bros partnership with their magnificent blue hen. This hen was timed to record 2nd fed Perth Scotland 2019, 3rd fed Perth Scotland 2021 and also was timed to take 4th fed Girvan Scotland 2021. The Walls are always there abouts when it comes to clock opening whether its long distance or short distance year in year out they will be there and all credit to them. Very well done.
Gerry O'Callaghan, the new kid on the block. Gerry pictured here with a big smile after receiving his award recently. Gerry is very keen on the pigeons and is a super enthusiastic young lad. It really doesn't come as any surprise as Gerry's Dna is full of the great O'Callaghan bloodlines who formerly Raced from the famous village of Blackpool (linndubh). We wish Gerry all the best on his new adventure.
Donie Luxford pictured here at the Nipa liberation point in Fermoy.
The man from Inchigeala, Denis (The Bull) Lucey. - Denis Lucey holding one of his newly acquired Peter Virtue birds in front of his amazing loft & Denis Lucey and family at Fota wildlife park.
On a final note, my family and I suffered a big loss recently and I would personally like to take this opportunity to thank everybody that offered their kind words, support and condolences. As I ponder I will close with an old favourite.
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, and a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee, and live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer and noon a purple glow, and evening full of the Linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day, I hear Lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey I hear it in the deep heart's core. (written by William Butler Yeats), God bless & see you soon.