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Jim O Hara of Allanton, Lanarkshire, Scotland




of Allanton, Lanarkshire, Scotland


In September I took the time to visit Jim at his home in Allanton within Lanarkshire District. This is one of the best families of distance pigeons I have had the good fortune to come across. Bloodlines of pigeons is the key to distance flying and Jim has based his family around the best performance lofts of their time and maintained these lines for the best part of 25 years. Jim loves the breeding of pigeons and he has mastered how to maintain a family of birds without losing any of the characteristics that include type, vitality and winning performance. He is someone, in my opinion, who has superior knowledge of breeding racing pigeons.

Jim O Hara

Jim started with pigeons when a teenager in Allanton, then moved to Fauldhouse in 1963, racing reasonably well in club and federation. He had a break from pigeons for a few years then started back in 1981 when his son took an interest. He moved back to Allanton in 1983 joining Allanton WPC & Newmains FC, winning the mighty Lanarkshire Federation young bird averages (7,000 to 10,0000 birds raced in the federation) in his first year.

Jim's ambition in pigeons has always been National racing, flying the distance, and he introduced Jock Allan of Symington birds. Jock was the best of his generation with 125 SNFC diplomas and arguably the most successful west of Scotland fancier in 100 years of racing. Eggs were introduced from this great loft and thereafter Jim started to time at the distance, although still working at the time didn't really do the birds justice. As time passed he concentrated on trying to build a family that would re-produce. These were built on performance pigeons that he had. At that time this was two pigeons called Jock and Emergency.

Jock SU 98L 25510 Blue Cheq

Direct son of Jock 2nd West section, 7th SNFC  Leige 2001. Bred by Jock Allan and raced by J O Hara.

Sire of Jock was Blue Check Cock, direct son of Irish Mick, Gold Award winner SNFC

G/Son of No Surrender, Gold Award winner.

Dam of Jock SU SL 4073 Blue Check Hen, 10th West section, 71st Open SNFC Rennes 1999.

Jock, the foundation breeding cock.

Emergency Red Cock, SU94L7999 (999- That's why he's named "Emergency")

1st West section (Only bird on day into west section timed at 22.45 pm, 11th Open SNFC Rennes 1996, 2,511 birds, 540 miles.

Now proven to be a great stock cock being Sire, G/Sire, G/G Sire of winners, bred by Jim O Hara.

Sire of Emergency, Red Cheq SU 89 G 7265 was purchased from Anderson & Brown, Kirkintilloch from a mother and son mating. Mother being a red cheq hen 4 times scored at 500 miles and a prolific breeder, the son being 10th West section, 27th Open SNFC Sartilly 1987.

Dam SU 91 L 16719 of Emergency was bred by E & R Lane Coatbridge, from a G/son of his top National winners, Flight Commander & Red Admiral stock hen of W & M Wilson.

SU 91 L 16719 was timed in the YBird National 91, 6th club Sartilly 500 miles as a yearling and flown Rennes 93 returning hawked.

As you can see Emergency is bred from top West section lofts, based on old Scottish bloodlines that go back many generations and always showed their worth at the distance.

Emergency, top racing and breeding cock.

Emergency, Red Cock, SU 94 L 7999 racing career.

Young bird - 3 races to Appleby (Twice) -103 miles.

As a Yearling - Flown on the Natural system.

4 races to Stafford (over 200 miles) all in good time.

Sent to Worcester 256 miles having lost his mate flying spare; after one day holdover returned Monday 2 30pm.  

Next race Fareham, Lanarkshire Open race, 360 miles; after 1 day holdover, Lib 0700 North East Wind, timed 5.33pm (10 .5 hours) to be 6th Club, 10th East section 900 birds, 35th Open.

He was then earmarked for the Rennes National the following year.1996

As a 2 year old he was raced on the widowhood, mated, trained and treated as a widowhood cock (with a small experimental team).

4 races in 5 weeks to Worcester 256 miles when fourth bird to loft.

Mated after this race, sent to Rennes on 11 day eggs.

Liberated after 3 day holdover, Lib Monday 8am into a North West wind.

Timed at 22 42hrs in near dark, very dull and overcast night to be 1st West section, 11th Open SNFC Rennes, 540 miles, velocity 1075.

Emergency training for the 96 National

Normally trained birds for 10-14 days prior to race, either daily or alternative days 30/40/50 miles dependent on weather. Against wind if possible.

On Tuesday one week before basketing he was tossed with two others from Dunbar (Around 40 miles) at Midday, when arrived back two birds home, No Emergency; he dropped at 8pm and he had been flying.

He was left till Friday and was given a short toss from Livingston about 12 miles.

Due to bad toss there was doubt and he was kept off the ten pound pool for the National.

However he put up the performance to win £1500.

Racing on the widowhood, then the difficult toss had put him in super form, which then on eggs gave him the extra incentive to home.

When timed that night he was buzzing (so was his boss) and looked like he had more in tank.

He was Jim's only entry in the National.

The following year Emergency was prepared for the Rennes National and was entered but the race was a disaster with only 21 birds timed in race time and very few fanciers got a bird. Emergency returned on 21st September, 10 weeks later.

The following year Emergency was trained as Jim felt he could win following last year’s disaster.

Jock Allan advised Jim not to race Emergency stating he had nothing to prove and Emergency would be best put to stock.

This was the best advice Jim was to receive.

Bred 4 direct prize winners including 3rd Sect, 24th Open Tours 614 miles,

24 G /Children including 1st Sect 24th Open Alencon 535 miles.

Emergency became the best stud cock and was bred back into the lines of Jock’s to maintain the blood lines.

Other top fanciers’ lines were paired to Emergency including to the gene pool, G Harris, Denney, J Donaldson from Peterhead. These few have left their mark.

The family are predominately Red and Mealy in colour, all of the same type - small to medium in size with a prominent bump on the forehead. This goes all the way back to the Anderson & Brown Red cock.

Present introductions are J Proctor and Jocky King, Kirkcaldy.

Emergency filled his eggs till he was 16 years of age and Jim currently has a lovely Red cock and Mealy hen bred off him in 2010.

Jim has also kept sons and daughters of Emergency and Jock at stock to maintain this bloodline.

Jim states he doesn't always win, he has had many disappointments but as you can imagine they always give a good account of themselves and usually get home.

As Jim says, “All you can ask for is your fair share - you can't always win! Racing pigeons is much more difficult now with good birds getting lost to predators, changes of weather patterns and technology all playing their part in losses.”

Racing and stock lofts.

Racing Methods

Always natural for distance racing, has dabbled in Widowhood and Roundabout for club racing.

Mated early March, stock birds’ eggs floated under racers.

Great attention to loft environment and pigeons love for their loft.

Build a raport with your birds, feed in nest box, giving tit-bits all in box.

Feeding is Irish mix/Widowhood mix Country Wide as others too expensive.

Must be good sound mixture. Peanuts for the distance.

As much as they like never short of food, watch for leaving barley.

Birds often open loft during season.

Great believer of fresh grit, garlic in water 2-3 days per week.

He likes to scrape his sections daily during the racing and has grills with cat litter down during the winter.

Nest condition is dependent on individual pigeon.

Training 3/4/5 races before National, depends on hours on wing or 500/600 miles.

Train in small batches, will train with local van on occasions to get them among the batch.

Treats for canker and worms regularly but not lice.

Often will try new Vitamin/Re-hydration products that are in the corn store.

Respiratory problems would be dealt with if required.

Most importantly the bloodlines have to be right, being bred for the job of flying distance races into the West section of Scotland.

Main loft is 24ft with corridor, and two 10ft lofts, for racing. All face west.

Excellent ventilation is essential with Jim having the hen house type ventilation.

8 pairs of stock are kept.

Likes to have 25-30 pairs of racers.

All birds fly out maintaining vitality.

Rings around 40 youngsters that are now only lightly raced first couple of races.

Stress is a significant cause of YB losses.

Used to race youngsters the full programme but feels he likes his birds to mature stress free.

All birds are vaccinated annually.

ETS is not used.

He is presently a member of Newmains FC, SNFC, SNRPC, Lanarkshire Social Circle.

Likes to breed late bred pigeons to maintain the best lines.

View of the racing cocks.


Significant racing winners

SU 03 L 17904 Red Hen "Addition"

2005 - 1st Sect, 24th Open SNRPC Alencon 535 miles, vel 849

2006 - 23rd Sect, 134th Open SNFC Alencon 535 miles, vel 753

G/Daughter of Emergency

SU 03L 17981 Mealy Hen "Princess"

2005 - 3rd Sect, 24th Open SNFC Tours 614 miles

Direct daughter of Emergency

SU 99 L 23135 Red Hen "35"

6th Sect, 29th Open SNFC Chenoise 574miles

G /Daughter of Emergency

SU 03 L 17903 Red Cheq cock "The Wee Fella"

2005 - 5th Sect, 24th Open SNRPC Cholet 614 miles, vel 771

2006 - 3rd Sect, 10th Open SNRPC St Nazaire 593 miles, vel 838

2006 - 4th Sect 60th Open SNFC Falaise 510 miles, vel 823

G /Son of Emergency

Red Check Cock Wee Fella.

SU 06 L 14238 Blue hen "Skye"

2008 - 44th Sect 160th Open SNFC Falaise 510 miles

2009 - 8th Sect, 37th Open SNFC Alencon 535 miles

2009 - 15th Sect SNFC Clermont 510 miles

Silver award winner SNFC

G/G Daughter of Emergency & G/Daughter of Jock

SU 10 L 9654 Mealy Cock

Sire direct son of Jock SU 00 L 19735

9th Sect, 47th Open SNFC Alencon 535 miles

Sire direct son of Jock

Dam direct daughter of Emergency

SU 11 L 6393 Blue Pied Hen

2012 - 45th Sect SNFC Ypres 441 miles

15th Sect SNFC Clermont 516 miles

Sire from J King Kirkaldy

Dam daughter of Emergency

The performances have been consistent throughout the decades showing this family have got what it takes to perform at National level.

When handling these superb pigeons they are all peas in a pod - small to medium cocks - with the hens predominately small - they are of fine feather with plenty of length and muscle.

The colour is mostly red and mealy with the odd cheq and blue.

The cocks have a dominant head with a bump to the forehead which is a family trait.

Jim has no interest in flight theory but their eye colour is dominated with yellow/gold which tells Jim the bloodlines are still the same as the original base.

Jim talks about having to have the right birds to do the job; birds who you will have the confidence in to return home after being released from distances 500-600 miles away.

The Mealy cock SU10L 9654’s career is interesting showing that good pigeons don’t need excessive racing.

2010 - 2 races as young bird out to 70 miles.

2011- As a yearling. Stopped after Newark after hawk injury.

2012 - Mated 12th March, 4 races to Uttoxeter 215 miles, privately trained thereafter and sent on 1 day youngster to take 9th Sect, 47th Open SNFC Alencon 535 miles.

Blue Pied hen SU 11 L 6393

2011 - 2 young bird races.

2012 - 4 races to Uttoxeter then Wollaston 9th June, 9 hours on wing

Salisbury 16th June - 13 hrs on wing

SNFC Ypres - 45th Sect, 441 miles, 14 hrs on wing

SNFC Clermont - 15th Section, 516 miles, timed the next morning.

Sent on first young bird of year 1 day old.

Results from 2001

2001- 1st Region E, 2nd West section, 7th Open SNFC Leige 526 miles

2002 - 6th West section, 29th Open, SNFC Chenois 574 miles.

2003 - 43rd Section SNFC, 182nd Open Reims 560 miles.

- 72nd Section SNFC, 267th Open Reims.

- 13th Section, 225th Open SNFC, Clermont 516 miles.

- 17th Section, 250th Open SNFC, Clermont.

2004 - 26th Section, 71st Open Lanarkshire Fed Lille 460 miles

- 53rd Open SNFC Tours 614 miles.

2005 "The Vintage year" -6 Nationals at 500-600 miles timed in all.

SNRPC  Alencon, 535 miles, 1st Sect, 24th Open - Breeding, G/Daughter of Emergency.

11th Sect, 65th Open - Breeding, G/Daughter of Emergency.

SNRPC Cholet, 617 miles, 5th Sect, 24th Open, Breeding, G/Son of Emergency.

SNRPC Falaise, 507 miles, 6th Sect, 46th Open, Breeding, G/G/Son of Emergency.

20th Sect, 95th Open, Breeding, G/Son of Emergency.

Newbury timed but not on result.

SNFC, Alencon, 535 miles, 27th Sect, 210th Open, Breeding J King, Kirkaldy.

Tours, 614 miles, 3rd Sect, 24th Open, Breeding Daughter of Emergency.

66th Open, Breeding, Daughter of Jock.

Falaise, 507 miles. 10th Sect, 90th Open, yearling.

Newbury Inland National, 24th, 25th Sect, Breeding G/Daughter of Emergency.

Great thrill for Jim this year was timing from two 600 mile races in 1/2 hour.

Montage of vintage year 2005.

2006, SNFC Tours, 614 miles, 66th Open.

SNFC Alencon, 535 miles, 23rd Sect, 134th Open.

SNRPC  St Nazaire, 593 miles, 3rd Sect, 10th Open.

SNFC Falaise, 507 miles, 4th Sect, 60th Open.

2008  SNFC Newbury, 24th Sect, 243rd Open.

SNFC Alencon, 535 miles, 34th Sect.

SNRPC Messac, 560 miles, 5th Sect, 15th Open.

2009 SNFC Alencon, 535 miles, 8th Sect, 37th Open.

SNFC Falaise, 507 miles, 12th Sect, 97th Open.

2010 SNFC Ypres, 441 miles, 26th Sect, 101st Open.

39th Sect, 122nd Open.

SNFC Clermont, 15th Sect.

2011 SNFC Clermont, 19th Sect.

Jim has taken many good positions in Federation racing during this period and before. Runner up to the Gold Cup, Lanarkshire Social Circle (LSC) at least twice. (This being a 4 bird nomination all SNFC races.) Has won other trophies in the LSC, 2 two bird average and best average. Winner of the McArdle trophy 6 times, Newmains FC (Biggest club in Lanarkshire Fed).

As you can see with these results at the distance, these birds are the real "McCoy".

A typical coloured pigeon in the O Hara loft.

Jim is a very respected fancier. Vice President of the SNFC for two years then President from 2001-2004, which he felt was a great honour and he was very proud to serve his fellow fanciers.

Jim has great satisfaction that he is still managing to get some good performances at distance racing from established Scottish birds. He has maintained a legacy; winning at the distance for many, many years.

Jim has got new vigour in his blood - his grandson who is now taking a keen interest in the pigeons. Like all of us, you need that motivation to get the best out of the birds. Currently, Jim is looking to move back to Fauldhouse to be closer to his grandchildren.

I would like to thank Jim for the memorable day my dad and I had, and for providing me with more insight into distance flying.

All the best Jim. There is no doubt in my mind that another big result is just round the corner.

Tom Corrie jnr

Lanarkshire Fed

Press Officer

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