FLYING INTO THE NORTH WEST OF IRELAND
PAT McLAUGHLIN - ROSCREA OPEN WINNER, MAY 2012
by Billy Knox
Pat McLaughlin has, over the past few years, been regarded as one of the top fliers in the North West and, worryingly for us all, he seems to be getting better all the time. Pat’s love of, and fascination with birds, began at a young age, and in 1969, he joined the Londonderry club at the age of fifteen or sixteen. At that time the Londonderry club was the only club in the town. He recalls his first ever race with young birds that year, when he sent two hens, a blue white flight and a red to the race. At six o’ clock that night, the young Pat was in floods of tears as none of the birds had come back. Then, out of the sky, came his red hen and with heart pumping, Pat took the rubber ring and had to run all the way to Duke St. in the Waterside from his home in Creggan. He proudly handed his rubber to the secretary Lowry Olphert, who patted him on the back and said "well done son". Pat was hooked.
Pat's double decker loft. Racer's at the top. Stock birds below.
From the Londonderry club, Pat went on as a founder member to the newly formed Foyle club where he remained until around 1978 when he moved to a new house in Elaghmore, which is part of the Galliagh Estate in the town. Then he joined the Maiden City club and was a member here until 1984 when the Rock club formed. He rejoined the Maiden City in around 2001 or so where he is still a member today. That only leaves the Derry and District, and he will have a full house. Pat, it must also be said, has always worked hard on behalf of the local fanciers. He has been on the NIPA committee for around ten years now and also runs the Derry centre for the National races.
Pat with his Open winner
Pat has had many good prizes and club results throughout his racing career; even back as far as 1980, he was 4th Open Dungarvan, and has done very well when flying the North road from Scotland. But it was when he moved to his current house in 1983 that things really took off for him. Multiple Section and Open positions were to follow, and that is back when the Section was much bigger than it is now. As Pat rhymed off the results, it just proved how impressive his record is and, as I mentioned before, how impressive it continues to be. Results, such as: 2nd Section 37th Open Roscarberry (old section), 5th Open Wexford, 1st section 2nd Open Fermoy in 2011, 1st Section 5th Open Tullamore 2005, 1st Section Talbenny 2007, winning by 100ypm, 10th Open Mullingar. And this year already he has 4 firsts in the club, two section wins and of course his amazing Open win from Roscrea. And, just as I am writing this article, I have just heard that Pat’s red cock has won the club again from Clonmel and will I’m sure place high up in the Section and Open as well.
Just Back. Red Cock, section winner from Fermoy, 3rd section Roscarberry last week.
When it comes to racing and race points, Pat is another man who enjoys the channel more than anything else. He prefers the challenge of the harder channel races, as a good channel bird is harder to come by - and harder to keep. In saying that, as we have seen from his results, he is not adverse to the odd inland race win as well.
Recently retired from a long career in social work, he enjoys having a lot more free time to spend with the birds these days. When you are working full time, he feels that you can’t really do the birds justice. Lucky for us then that he has only retired this year judging by the fantastic results he has had so far. His best year ever I’m sure he will agree and a lot more to come.
The birds that seem to be doing the damage at the minute are all half brothers and half sisters from a late bred Mealy Cock that Pat bought at a clearance sale in Blackpool in 2006 for £250. The Mealy, a Limberg cock was from Red Perpignan, an international winning pigeon. The mother of the birds is a cheq pied hen from John McMullan of Carnlough. Pat also has some Van Bremen pigeons which are also very steady pigeons and he has high hopes for these as well going forward. We must also mention before moving on, Pat’s old favourite racer called El Cid. One of Pat’s best ever racers, he won from everywhere, no matter what race point or what the weather was like, he was sure to come. In his time, he won from Nenagh, Tramore, Roscarberry and even cross channel from Talbenny. And he has bred many winners himself and still resides in the stock loft today.
Pat's old favourite, El Cid
In a normal year, pat will breed about fifty young birds, and has twelve widowhood cocks and hens, and twelve pairs of natural pigeons which will be used for the channel. The yearling hens are kept for the widowhood cocks, with the natural hens being paired to the older cocks. He will race on widowhood up to Roscarberry and then re-pair the birds for the channel. Pat explained that he only went back on to widowhood last year without must success, but that this year, it is really beginning to work for him. Again, this is probably due to the fact that Pat has much more time on his hands to work with the birds.
Inside Pat's widowhood section
When it comes to feeding, Pat feeds a breeding mix with Gerry Plus. The young birds are fed peas only until after they are weaned and then go on to a lighter young bird mix. He also feeds 30% barley at all times. He uses a lot of conditioning seed with sun flower hearts and a few peanuts thrown in. When the birds hit the channel, a heavier mix will then be fed with plenty of maize. He will feed light at the start of the week, increasingly getting heavier approaching the race. On return from the race the birds are fed a high protein food and the same on a Sunday. Then it’s back on the regime of breaking down, such as it is, and building back up again. He also likes to give glucose and electrolytes in the water.
The Open winner himself
Cheq Cock. 1st Section, 2nd Open Fermoy.
Blue Cock. 3rd Section Bude. 4th Section Roscarberry. Many times the channel.
As far as medication goes, Pat treats for all the usual, such as canker, cocci and worms. Training is light, with the widowhood pigeons going to thirty miles at most, and then it’s back to ten miles, once or twice a week. The natural birds will go to thirty miles maybe twice a week and all birds must exercise for an hour morning and evening, when Pat will lock them out of the loft.
His one ambition now is to get a bird from the French race. Although he has only tried France for the past three or four years, he hasn’t yet clocked from it. He has won from everywhere else, and the way the man is flying this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hacked up here this year as well. A gentleman and a fantastic flyer, watch this space.