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From The Island Of Ireland - The McConom'ys Of Derry
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In an e-mail received recently from the well known pigeon scribe Gordon Chalmer's of Canada he used the phrase 'The toughest of tough courses' when referring to flying into the north west of Ireland especially into the City of Derry. Well, Gordon, is not the only one who has used such language when referring to the toughness of the course, in fact, others have stated that a fly from say Penzance or the near-by Sennen Cove in Britain is equal to a race from the European mainland. Well, with these thoughts in mind I offer a report on one of the best distance flying partnerships in the north west of Ireland. It is the father and son combination of Colm and Colm (junior) McConomy from the large Creggan Estate which overlooks the historic Bogside on the banks of the Foyle.In an e-mail received recently from the well known pigeon scribe Gordon Chalmer's of Canada he used the phrase 'The toughest of tough courses' when referring to flying into the north west of Ireland especially into the City of Derry. Well, Gordon, is not the only one who has used such language when referring to the toughness of the course, in fact, others have stated that a fly from say Penzance or the near-by Sennen Cove in Britain is equal to a race from the European mainland. Well, with these thoughts in mind I offer a report on one of the best distance flying partnerships in the north west of Ireland. It is the father and son combination of Colm and Colm (junior) McConomy from the large Creggan Estate which overlooks the historic Bogside on the banks of the Foyle.

Colm, senior, had no interest in the sport but his brother Jim had and he talked Colm into providing space for a loft at the back of his Creggan home. Thus a modest loft was erected and Jim raced his birds from that area as a member of the largest club in Ireland's north west, namely the Foyle Racing Pigeon Society. In due
course whether it was some other kind of bird, or whatever, Jim's interest in the sport began to wane and he neglected the birds. Finally, Jim, instructed Colm to get rid of the pigeons and the loft. Colm didn't know what to do but finally visited the loft.
After entering, in due course he grasped hold of one of the inmates and as he handled it he fell in love with what he referred too 'as a beautiful wee bird'. Little did he know then but at that moment a good fancier was born, for Colm decided to learn as much as he could about the sport and participate in it. Being a good listener, as he said, by keeping his mouth shut and his ears open Colm received words of wisdom from a few local maestro's such as veteran fancier Noel McGrotty. Replacing his brother Jim in due course as a member of the Foyle club and eventually forming a combination with his son Colm junior. It is now 16 years since his conversion to the sport and the McConomy's have not looked back since and I must add that Colm's wife Una has given him 100% in his sporting endeavours. Colm's reputation as a good distance flyer extends beyond the north west of Ireland based upon his consistent exploits at the
channel races. The distance is their preference but the partnership has won at the sprints and the middle distance in both club and in the City of Derry Federation. Those successes they consider as an unexpected bonus.

The McConomy stock is what Colm senior referred to a as dolly- mixture assortment but the top exploits have been obtained from Debaere and Busschaert / VanWanroy bloodlines. The Van Wanroy's blood coming from Malcom Robinson's stock of Bonds Hill, County Armagh. In fact their great hen who won from Sennen Cove (Penzance) two years in succession is of the Debeare strain. They have won from this liberation area in the last three years- the other winner being half and half Busschaert/Van Wanroy. Although great achievements from the latter birds they consider their greatest achievement was the joint winning from Talbenny and Penzance by another of their good racers in recent years. Of course another great was a bird which they obtained from Joe Kelly of the Londonderry club, as a squeaker, which went on to win from France but alas was lost eventually in a training toss of approximately 14 miles. This was the worst experience ever of the partnership in the sport.The McConomy stock is what Colm senior referred to a as dolly- mixture assortment but the top exploits have been obtained from Debaere and Busschaert / VanWanroy bloodlines. The Van Wanroy's blood coming from Malcom Robinson's stock of Bonds Hill, County Armagh. In fact their great hen who won from Sennen Cove (Penzance) two years in succession is of the Debeare strain. They have won from this liberation area in the last three years- the other winner being half and half Busschaert/Van Wanroy. Although great achievements from the latter birds they consider their greatest achievement was the joint winning from Talbenny and Penzance by another of their good racers in recent years. Of course another great was a bird which they obtained from Joe Kelly of the Londonderry club, as a squeaker, which went on to win from France but alas was lost eventually in a training toss of approximately 14 miles. This was the worst experience ever of the partnership in the sport.

The McConomy pigeons are raced naturally and are fed on a Number 2 mixture throughout the year. No supplements are used nor do they mass treat for possible sickness. Their pigeons appear to be immune from ailments which they attribute to a deep litter method which sees them cleaning out and topping out twice
per year. Hard training and racing is the regime practised, with the old birds very well trained to 50 miles across the Sperrin Mountains. Both by himself and another club member, Kevin Payne, who is one of the most committed members of the Foyle club. As for me asking if they had any secrets Colm senior stated that he already told me- that is hard training, hard racing, based upon fitness. Which by their results appears
to pay off.

It is the partners belief that the sport has never been as strong in Derry as at present especially in their own club which is seen as the most difficult to win in throughout the north west. For the novice Colm senior suggests that they listen and learn from others, alongside a couple of good pairs from local winning fanciers,
plus a lot of patience. Incidentally Colm won the first race that he ever entered. It was in young bird racing and it may not happen as quick for other novices but he knows that success will come eventually with patience being an important ingredient

The partners have no particular criticism of the sport today but believe that a pigeon centre for the national and classic races must be established in the north west i.e. in Derry, which would be of help to the fancy in Omagh, Strabane, and Limavady as well as the four local clubs.

Well all good things come to an end and so did my visit. I enjoyed my long promised visit to the McConomy's and I thank them for their hospitality. As a scribe one gets to meet interesting people and families and this was one. This loft will be hard to beat in the years ahead and the challenge expected to be offered by Colm
McConomy and his son Colm can only be for the good of the sport which we all love. Slan!


Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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