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British And Irish 1,000 Milers
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When reading recently of that great 800 miler, 'Riley's Duchess', in the British pigeon press I was full of admiration for that and all those other great and gallant pigeons who fly against the odds and conquer mile after mile into the islands of Britain and Ireland. Pigeons like the immortal 'Per Ardua' who flew single up from Gibraltar to Gillingham at a distance of 1,098 miles when only a young bird. Really, I don't think any of us has fully grasped the outstanding achievements of our thoroughbreds in such fabulous feats. The reality confirms the true blue blooded nature of the pigeons and their health. But within the heart of all there must exist a unique love of home by the pigeons involved whether its a return to a palatial structure or a back yard shed!

Here I have in mind those who have conquered the extreme distance from Spain into for example central Ayrshire- 1,010 miles. W. G. Davidson led the way in the 1,000 miles tests when his grizzle hen 'Faith' held the Scottish record for a time after homing in 8 days to Stevenson. Then there was Henry Mair (who I believe was three times successful recording an arrival) with 3rd position into Scotland in one of those attempts followed by outstanding performances in 1976 when the Scottish 1,000 mile club sent 138 pigeons and two made it in race time. A. Stewart of Carnoustie winning on a 236y.p.m. velocity, followed by A & A Taylor of Dundee on 155 y.p.m.velocity. Thirty three birds were recorded after the close of the race and the first Ayrshire bird verified was a Red Chequer Cock bred and raced by R & H Kennedy of Irvine to be 5th, H Mair was next in at 23rd with W. G. Davidson 33rd.

Of course one must recall and never forget 'Barcelona Blue': 1000 mile record breaker in 1958 (SURP 50 13315) and 'Barcelona Triumph': 1000 mile record breaker 1959 (SURP 52 2345) and of course Jim Moffatt’s '266', 1000 mile record breaker 1963 (SURP 58 ML 266) But the best of all perhaps amongst these great racing pigeons was the red chequer cock known as the 'The Conqueror'. Bred and raced by Alan Raeside, of Irvine, who covered the 1,009 miles in just over 2 days with an amazing 687y.p.m. velocity, which represents 24 m.p.h. and registering as the record holder. Alan also had a grandson of the 'Conqueror' recorded from Palamos. Magnificient pigeons!

And in Ireland there are the great exploits of 'Barcelona Bluebell' bred and raced by the Mairs Bros, of Ballyclare, and that gallant bird of Anthony McDonald of Coleraine,Co.Derry, who in their 1000 miles plus journeys from Barcelona crossed two waters, that is, the English Channel and the Irish sea to arrive safely at their home lofts.

The latter are outstanding specimens of the art and science of the sport of marathon Pigeon racing and when released with thousands of birds from the mainland of Europe those who reach the Western Isles must be outstanding representatives of the thoroughbreds of the sky because of the strong pull of the drag and the physical configurations that the pigeons have to conquer as well as the enormity of the distance.

Perhaps what is required for our thoroughbreds of such endurance quality is a type of Western Isles Agency to promote the development of the marathon racer. A crazy thought ? Perhaps! But I believe that the marathon challenge is due a reawakening amongst the British and Irish pigeon racing fraternity. A belief based upon the English successes from Dax (the insularity is disappearing) and it is in our nature to reach for the stars, to dream dreams that never were and say- why not?

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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