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The McDowell's of Ireland
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The McDowell's won the Irish National on two occasions. Thus becoming part of a unique small group to win the King's Cup twice. To win once is a supreme act but to win twice, especially into Ireland, confirms the class and the managerial ability of the pigeons and their owners.

The McDowell's lofts were in the County Down town of Newtownards which is situated at the top of Strangford Lough, in the north of the Emerald Isle. As a partnership it had its origins in the 1920s of the previous century. Composed of Andy and his son Hugh but in due course two other sons, that is Willie and Andy (junior), joined the team. By the late 1990s however only Andy (junior) was in charge of the lofts.

In the early years the base of the family were pigeons of the Gits and Hansenne strains obtained by Andy (senior) from a Bangor, Co.Down, fancier by the name of Pollock. Other bloodlines were of the Downpatrick (Co.Down) fancier Jack Leatham but an important input were pigeons of the Kenyon strain purchased from Tommy Little of Scotland.

The regime was firmly based upon commonsense and a sincere love of their thoroughbreds. As a result the McDowell's reaped success after success. For in addition to winning two Nationals the family built a reputation second to none as long distance and channel flyers. Their first National win was from Redon (France) in 1953 whereas their second National win was from Nantes
(France) in 1973. Redon was 505 miles and Nantes was 543 miles (including the English Channel and the Irish Sea). Of course it should be noted that they also won a National in 1975- the so called Friendship National from Beauvais in France. In addition the lofts won the Old Bird Derby from Dinard in France in 1994 with the East Down Combine. Therefore three Nationals and one Derby from the land of the Eiffel Tower into the land of the shamrock. Some flying!

Over the years the McDowell's have also gained other good positions at the distance, scoring 4th, 15th, 17th (on two occasions) 28th, 40th, 49th, 51st, 53rd, 57th, 62nd, 63rd, 77th, 81st and so on in the Irish Nationals. Excluding Club and EDC wins the lofts won the prestigious Harkness Rosebowl, the French Diploma and many other awards and race positions. The latter also including Young Bird National and Derby contests.

In the sport of long distance pigeon racing the McDowell's have made their own history, occupying a unique position in the heart of the sport in their native Ireland.Yes, they shall be spoken of amongst their fellow pigeoners.

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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