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Cork Premier R P C 23-03-18



"Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea"


R McVeigh and Son.



On the North eastern coast of Ireland lies a small seaside resort called Newcastle which is situated in the red and black County of Down. Lying on the edge of the mighty Irish sea, Newcastle sits quietly at the foot of Slieve Donard, one of the famous Mourne mountains. Slieve Donard being in the Mourne mountain range has the highest peak in the north of Ireland with an elevation of 850 metres. Not surprisingly both locals and tourists alike come to walk and enjoy the spectacular scenery provided by these natural giants.  The resort has benefited from a multi- million upgrade and is now a great attraction.

The magnificent and challenging terrain.

The town was also well known for it's Mourne granite which was quarried there for many years and shipped all over the world. It was used to make paving stones in many cities including both London and New York. As a matter of interest to our readers Mourne granite was also used to make the base of the 9/11 memorial in New York. An old myth has it that the Mourne mountains was the site of where St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland and a stream that marks the boundary of the Kingdom of Mourne has a rock in it with St. Patrick's hand print where he knelt down to drink the water.

Air show

This beautiful resort of Newcastle has currently a population of roughly 8,000 inhabitants. Among these inhabitants is the fantastic racing pigeon partnership and the subject of this article namely R McVeigh and Son. This partnership is made up of father Ronan and son Connaire. Ronan who is now 79 years young has been all his life in pigeons in fact 70 years to date and is as eager today as he was all those years ago. Ronan started out racing in the old days with an old neighbour racing under Coyne and McVeigh. A plasterer by trade Ronan was to eventually marry his best friend Sheila and there own family tree would soon commence. Raising a family of eight is no easy task and credit to them a superb job they done raising four boys and four girls.

Remarkably amongst the eight siblings one son named Connaire was and still is to be the only one to express an interest in the pigeons. As time past and Connaire increasingly showing great enthusiasm the partnership of R McVeigh and Son was founded. Only a few years back Connaire whom now has a family of his own decided along with his lovely wife Patricia and three children to invest in there future and a lovely home set on three acres of pristine countryside was purchased. A perfect location for family and birds. Not surprisingly Connaire jokingly stated that the pigeons were settled in before the family, am i surprised?

Father Ronan and son Connaire.

Racing with the now disbanded Newcastle hps via the great East Down Combine Connaire informed me that father Ronan had held all officer positions at one time or another including the role of Chairman. Unfortunately Connaire is restricted in this area as due understandably to having a young family and on top of that he is also the assistant manager of the nearby Burrendale hotel and has been carrying out his duties impeccibaly for the last 22 years.

In 2018 the partnership will begin a new adventure racing with both the Dundrum club in the East Down Combine and also the Harmony club which is in section F of the NIPA. The McVeigh loft set up contains a block loft measuring 20ft x 12ft split into four sections and is accompanied by two 12ft x 6ft wooden lofts for yb's with four sections this year. These Lofts are fully ventilated with an abundance of air from several angles. The "smell of pigeons" is disliked nor tolerated within this setup. Another investment this year see's the introduction of 3ft x 4ft individual breeding pen's being added to hold eight pairs of stock birds. The pigeons in these lofts are mostly raced natural but the roundabout system has and is also been practiced. As a matter of fact last year twelve pairs were raced on the roundabout system with a further twenty pairs on the natural. This year the partnership find themselves with ten extra hens so in the season ahead they hope to again race twenty pairs on the natural , twelve pairs on roundabout and these extra hens will be raced on a jealousy type system.

60 yb's will be weaned with 30 going on the darkness and 30 staying natural. The natural yb's will get at least two races with the darkness expected to fly the programme. On enquiring of the bloodlines here the partnership were quick to state that they are very lucky indeed to have some fantastic friends in the pigeon world and in turn have had some fantastic birds acquired and gifted to them over the years from the likes of the Black family in Dromara, the great Frank Sheader, Larkin bros in Portadown, Paul Dunlop and Thompson bros whom have been added recently also. Connaire was also quick to inform me that 6 yb's were added last year from the lofts of Roy Irwin in Dundonald and pleasingly stated that they have performed very well. Last but certainly not least is a man that almost all fanciers will instantly recognize i.e. the legend Mr.Liam McCall of Wicklow. Liam is the I.N.F.C. 2017 Kings cup winner with his terrific blue hen 'Chloe' winning on a velocity of 1,343 y.p.m. Father Ronan and Liam have had a great friendship over many years and both Ronan and Connaire were quick to acknowledge this friendship, remarking "We were over the moon when Liam won the fiercely sought after Kings cup and we couldn't speak more highly of Liam, his lovely wife Gertie and family". Adding "Liam McCall is a good honest pigeon man who believes in simple things and is still Liam McCall".

2017 Kings cup winner the outstanding fancier Liam McCall and wife Gertie.

Liam McCall's blue hen Chloe king's cup winner 2017.


Liam Ronan and Connaire.                                                     Mr.Liam McCall and Mr.Ronan McVeigh.


In the McVeigh lofts simplicity is also to the forefront but and all duties are carried out with purpose.The McVeigh partnership like to pair there stock birds around Christmas time with the race birds being held off until around the start of February. Stock birds are expected to rear two rounds of youngsters and the racing team expected to rear one youngster floated also from the stock. Once the youngsters are weaned off they are seperated on there own and are unassisted by hens and must fend for themselves from this point forward. During the season Ultra grit from frazer and black mineral are always at hand. The pigeons all receive the annual vaccinations which of course is standard practice today. On conversing about the dreaded young bird sickness/virus it appears to be raising its head just about everywhere at this stage in time and is certainly no stranger to a lot of lofts in today's world. Unfortunately like in many other lofts it also paid a visit to the McVeigh darkness team in 2017 but upon recognising it quickly they responded and with the appropriate medication and attention administered they were soon back to there best. Only a small team of roughly eight pairs of stock are housed and it is certainly quality over quantity in this loft all day long.

Hens in the McVeigh lofts are also highly valued stating that a "good hen is hard to beat".The partnership like to pair winner to winner but they feel that keeping in the old breeding lines is also very important. One thing the McVeigh partnership are split on is the subject of eyesign with father Ronan believing and Connaire not being convinced at least not as of yet anyway. The lofts are cleaned out everyday as they find it easier for themselves in the long run. Preventative medication is used in the shape of a cocci and ecoli treatment with there point being prevention being better than a cure, de-worming of the birds takes place before and after the rearing young birds. Connaire also informed me that last year they were introduced to the Ropa liquid and Ropa B fliteboost tonic from Beatties, Connaire maintains these two definately had a positive impact on the pigeons and improved there form.

The McVeigh Roundabout team.

Moving on to the racing department and the preference here being the channel races as they find it suits them better but they find they are getting harder and are trying to adjust a little and quicken there birds so to speak. Frazers crushed peanuts are fed to the channel candidates in preperation for the task ahead. All the pigeons are trained from Monday - Thursday with the Ropa B and fliteboost in the water fountain while there training, the rest of the week its the good old fresh water! The McVeighs love to see there pigeons clapping with vigour around the lofts with the cocks chasing shadows showing some form. The  I.N.F.C. Yearling National is viewed with great importance and is in fact there favourite race timing from it again last year, saying openly that they like to push there yearlings a little bit. Connaire informed me that he always likes to send but admitted laughingly that he must also listen to his boss [Ronan], informing me that Ronan is always looking at next year, wise words. Strong backs and strong heads are part of what that this father and son like to see but in saying that they also refer to many years ago when Ronan's favourite hens were like swallows that could fit inside his shirt pocket so it's horses for courses and the heart that matters in the end.

E.t.s. is used in these lofts but are openly honest in stating that although e.t.s. is fantastic they do miss the adrenaline rush upon scrambling for a rubber. On enquiring about last season the partnership informed me of the following results,.Old Birds - 1st and 2nd Tullamore, 1st Skibbereen, 1st Penzance and Penzance classic plus a 52nd open INFC YR National. Young Birds - 1,2,3,4,5 Tullamore, 1st Thurles x 2 and 1st Skibbereen x 2, fantastic flying. Connaire felt they had a better young bird season and are putting that down to the introduction of some new birds from Roy Irwin. One of these new introductions is a handsome blue cock who has amassed 3 young bird first prizes in 2017, he is now called the 80 cock hence his ring number and the lads have high hopes for him in 2018, his progression as a yearling shall be interesting indeed with the old saying "yearlings being yearlings", being unpredictable at times, but fingers crossed lets hope 80 continues in his winning ways. On the channel it was the bloodlines of David Black that were most evident. Upon reflecting on last season the partnership felt that they might have been a little too keen to get them going early in which they felt showed in the birds later, lesson learned! Some of the McVeigh's fondest memories were clocking there beautiful pied cock from France in 1991. He was bred by there old neighbour Charlie McManus and there memories of that day stay with them as if it were only yesterday. Also winning the East Down Combine 2 - bird from Penzance in 2015 was most satisfactory indeed. On to the form end of things it is preferred to keep the pigeons racing every week whilst the form is there. On race day the pigeons return to fresh clean water and after a night's rest the following day they are supplied with a well deserved bath.

The 80 Cock.

Upon asking the Father and Son "Is there anything in particular that you would like to achieve in the future? The McVeigh's quickly answered "You can achieve more each year but the dream like so many others is without doubt to time in from the Kings cup, and that is one of our goals" [Watch this space]. The belief and train of thought here is very simple stating that everyone thats willing to put in the effort has there day at some point or another.

On arriving at the latter end of this article Connaire McVeigh wanted to add a few lines on behalf of himself and his father Ronan, so here goes,..."I would like to thank Alan Busteed for asking us to participate in this article and we wish Alan the very best for the 2018 season. One thing we love about pigeon racing is the friendships that can be made and in this instance from one end of the Island of Ireland to the other. We feel that Alan's thinking and attitude has helped us to be more forward in our own thinking, not to mention the unusual coincidental connection between the both of us. Id also like to mention my dad who has been my inspiration for me getting involved and i love the banter and enjoyment we have on race day but i must admit the old man still has the upper hand. I would also like to thank my wife Patricia and my three children, Maisie, Harry and Connaire O'g for putting up with me and my pigeons".


Connaire Og and Harry born to ride the waves.

Young Maisie enjoying life.

Upon closing, i would like to say it has been my absolute pleasure to compose this article on behalf of these two gentlemen of our sport, i would like to wish the McVeigh family the very best in 2018 and beyond.