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Long Distance And Marathon Racing Into Ireland-
A Proposal About The Future
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In recent years one of the oldest pigeon racing organisations in the country namely the Irish Homing Union formed a National Flying Club and has successfully organised national events. Even the Northern Ireland Provincial Amalgamation (NIPA) which was founded in 1945 has in recent times dropped the title 'Derby' from their ultimate old bird event and renamed the event a national.With the number of pigeon organisations within the island some of which are unnecessary due to the size of the fancier population and a membership allegedly decreasing especially in the traditionally stronger areas there are other 'national races' organised during the racing season. However we could be reaching the height of folly in this area of the sport for if it continues who is to prevent the area beyond the Sperrins of organising a so called 'national'. Surely a proliferation of so called 'nationals' belittles the concept of the term National?

With the above in mind I wonder is it not the time for the distance racing fraternity in the island of Ireland to consider a national race from the east into the country. Perhaps this would be more of an equal national compared to what we have at present and surely there is an appropriate racepoint in the European mainland which would fulfil what is required to be dubbed a True National. This would uncover the authentic national champion whereas at present we have a few 'national' champions and they are increasing.

Perhaps it is something to think about and think upon for I believe that it would be an authentic Irish national for the first time ever and for the benefit of the distance pigeon racing fraternity and the sport. Now I acknowledge that the venture would be far from being a simple one and initially we would have to overcome the ingrained habit of opposition to change which is part of human nature. The line of flight and its geographical realities aside from the organisational task could be problematic but in the beginnings of pigeon racing in the neighbouring island of Britain the young sport faced what appeared to be beyond human and pigeon behaviour and gallant birds were transported too and were recorded in races from Rome, for example.

A task facing such an organizational venture today from Ireland would be bolstered and enhanced by our modern transport systems and skills which are more advanced than that available to the pioneers of British long distance racing. Of course there exists the question have we the birds to face the change of route and I would argue that we have. I am encouraged by the courage and tenacity of the Irish racing pigeon over the more traditional routes and the success of those birds who have returned from Barcelona into Ireland even if they have been recorded out of race time. A couple which I have in mind is Mair's (of Ballyclare) 'Barcelona Bluebell' and Anthony's McDonnell's pioneer into Coleraine, Co. Derry.

The latter racepoint of 1,000 plus miles considering all its obstacles may be well beyond realisation within race time for the majority of distance fanciers in Ireland. Therefore a national from the east of about 650 to 750 miles could be our best alternative with racetime being extended to five days. I would contend that this would enhance and progress Irish bloodlines. Of course the fancy could organise another national from the east of a lesser distance for those of the opinion that 650/750 miles is extreme for Irish pigeons. As nationals the organisation would be best left to the bodies responsible for the holding of the traditional 'nationals'. However in the event of the latter bodies reluctance to cooperate and coordinate such a venture and I say this with respect for all those who have organised past events perhaps the present time calls for and warrants the establishment of a new body responsible for organising such a marathon as the 650/750 national. The latter idea may appear paradoxical for it warrants the appearance of another organisation and as I am against the existence of too many bodies the appearance of another organisation I would suggest purely upon the requirement for progress in the sport.

At least it is something to think about and the proposed 650/750 national could initially be organised for every two years. So like the late American President, John F. Kennedy, who paraphrased the words of George Bernard Shaw let us 'dream dreams that never were and say why not?'

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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