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The Coming Season And What It Will Bring

Michael Feeney

Well it’s the end of the racing season for us all and the moult in most cases is complete with probably a few of the birds and other late breds still to get through it. It’s a time when the shows are all in full swing and our thoughts turn to pairing for next season and what new introductions we will bring in order to strengthen our stock lofts. Another thing that is coming soon is the AGM’s for all the different organisations. Most of us are in several different clubs from local to national level and this could mean that we are also in different federations as well. So when it comes to meetings we are hard pushed to get to them some or all depending on each individual’s time commitments to other things.


Myself I am in 2 clubs at local level that focus only on national level racing which suits me down to the ground. With these clubs I am also a member of the 2 national organisations here in Ireland. The Irish National Flying Club, INFC, and the Irish Homing Union National Flying Club, IHUNFC. The INFC is long established and has a fantastic reputation as a club in itself. The IHUNFC is more recently established and I feel will go a long way in the future under the right management and also with increased membership. So why do I mention these clubs. Really the reason is to stress a point. At the end of a season there can be a lot of grumbling about whatever club or organisation you are racing in. this is usually in response to the type of season that was had when racing. Be it good or bad returns from a race or races, or feeling ill about individuals that are running the organisations or clubs you are in. whilst it is all well and good to vent amongst peers and get the ill feeling out it can also lead to bad feeling it festers within yourselves.


Something it is important to remember is that as members of these organisations you have the right to voice your opinion and be heard. You have the right to vote and change the mandate of your organisation and also to change the committee of that is the wish of enough people. A very important thing to remember is that for all the grumbling anyone may do about their organisation and the men and women running it, these people are doing for the most part this work on a voluntary basis. If you feel like critiquing these people in public and on an open forum you as a fancier should also be prepared to replace them. To take on the responsibility of the person you feel should not be doing the work. You should also feel you can do a better job and gain support in this so that when the time comes you could be nominated to take up a position and in doing so hopefully improve the organisation with you work. Be careful what you wish for however. For now as a committee member you will be the focus of the coming grumblings from others about how good or bad your performance may be in these positions. The point is to be careful and understand how thankless in most cases that committee work is. Before you critique any other individual on a committee ask yourself first could you do a better job and do others feel you can? do you want to replace someone on a committee to do that job? And lastly do you have the time to commit to doing the task and all it involves throughout the year? If the answer to these questions is positive then I wish you all the best in gaining committee status within your chosen organisation. If it is no then please be respectful to those doing these thankless mostly voluntary jobs that benefit all individuals in the organisation. These committee members do in actual fact want what is best for the sport and their respective organisations and all involved.


One of the organisations I am involved with is the IHUNFC mentioned earlier. Recently they had an extremely successful fundraising night in order to buy their own transporter. I’m sure some of you know about it, it was called an Irish Night With The Stars. I have to say that it was well organised with the auction of birds in some cases that you would never be able to buy without emptying your pockets. Birds of the calibre offered by Geoff and Catherine Cooper, who were panellists on the night that had 4 individual grandparents that had won an international. Others from fanciers such as Paul Swindell in Ireland and Herbie Thorpe. A class line up of birds were offered for auction in order to buy the transporter. I must also say what a fantastic success this in fact was. The funds were duly raised from the sale of the lots and so a transporter owned and controlled by the IHUNFC is in the pipeline for the coming season.


The main reason I suppose for having and running your own transporter for any organisation is independence. Up until this point this organisation has been racing with another organisation that has their own transporter. Simply paying for the crate numbers involved or something akin to this. Moving on however with its own transporter we all know they can have their own race program and race releases with full autonomy from other organisations. This will hopefully long term improve racing and encourage membership into the IHUNFC.


Race programs are a big issue of late especially within Ireland and racing from the U.K. and France into Ireland. Between the dreaded Birds of Prey that our birds and all others encounter at race point liberations and en-route this is all before hitting the Irish Sea and having the prowess to continue on to home. Sometimes when there is more than one organisation libbing at the same time I can only imagine how drag affects a convoy. When one of the organisations has a small amount of birds compared to the other or more with larger amounts of birdage. The drag comes into play here and can affect the birds homing if the direction is not the same for all. Usually it will be the smallest convoy affected. This can cause unwanted low numbers for returns. We all know that birds will get home if they can however what if birds are dragged 100 miles in the wrong direction due to simple numbers? We can only guess how this affects returns and the birds themselves.


I know there has recently a lot of talk around Ireland about a new proposed route from Ireland and across the U.K. into Belgium for more independent racing and also to get greater distances. This is to happen with the IHUNFC and I for one personally will be in favour of this route. At present liberation sites used in the U.K are both peninsulas. This is greatly affecting our birds I think especially because of the BOP problem that seem to be only ever increasing. It may also help that if birds are being released more inland in the U.K. they may have a better chance to get across the Irish Sea. The hope is that if the birds are released and they have gained momentum on their route home over land that when they hit the water and have to cross that the will. Hopefully without hesitation and hopefully increasing returns for all involved. This goes also for when the birds are in mainland Europe from Belgium. Having 2 bodies of water to cross would mean that with momentum of flying they will hopefully come home in good order. With the new transporter online and with membership increasing I don’t see this being a problem. There has been a lot of positive things talked about regarding this route and the future of the IHUNFC and to be honest I think it is looking good. It could in actual fact become a launch pad for more Irish fanciers looking to get involved in International racing in the long term. This is something I would be greatly in favour of and would love to see more involved. I know my personal aim is to achieve the dream of clocking from Barcelona International but there are so many other opportunities for Irish fanciers to break into the international scene. With this in mind I do know that the De Duif in Belgium have created a section for us in Ireland and those in the U.K. to take part in the Olimpiads. At current distances we could not compete for these accolades but with the proposed new routes talked about this could be a possibility with our own domestic national racing getting greater distances.


So coming full circle in this article we come back to the organisations we are all involved in. I for one will be attending the AGM in January for the IHUNFC. I will be doing this in order to have my voice heard in the forum of the meeting in the hope that through the democratic voting within the new proposed route will be passed amongst other things. As well as this it is an ideal meeting place to catch up with fancier friends you may not have seen for a bit. So let your voice be heard and attend your own AGM’s. Don’t forget where this started and the amount of work in one of these positions before you start critiquing some member of your committees. A last point to remember is that there is nothing to be lost be trying something new, for example a new race route, if it does not work out after a season or two you can always go back to what was working. So move with the times and change with them you can always change back if things don’t work out or you can try something new again. We all have the feeling of why fix it if it’s not broken however there is also the thought that things that are not broken can always be improved and this is where we as progressive fanciers need to go.


Until next time


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