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Blue Devil In Red Hot Form
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It’s been a constant but enjoyable balancing act for Henry McLaughlin since the formation of the Coalisland based “Blue Devil Lofts” in 1998. The lofts are sited on the Derryvarne Road, which lies about 3 miles outside of Coalisland town itself. As for racing he is a very competitive member of the Coalisland & Dist HPS, which in turn is affiliated to Section A of the Mighty NIPA.

Pigeons have been about the McLaughlin household in some form or fashion since 1993 but after many long hours of work on a daily basis equally long weeks and months with mediocre results Henry thought long and hard before going about pigeon racing properly in 1998. Following continual research of the years Henry set his stall out to purchase a line of pigeons that had proven themselves time and time again against strong competition from the shortest to the extreme middle distance, in other words a strain of winning pigeons that would handle the tasks asked of them with regards the testing Irish Pigeon Racing that this country beholds.

During the late 1990’s the Hartog strain was what was classed as the “in strain” nearly to the point at times were strains of pigeons are a fashion statement for many, even still to this present day many strains pop up all over the continent with hugely inflated price tags, these are generated by inflated prices being paid at public auctions in full view of many concerning pigeon fanciers, and it is merely this that’s sets the stall for the price and demand in the days, months and maybe years that are to follow (or not).

Fortunately in the 1990’s this wasn’t such a big occurrence and the Hartog strain to this day is raced and won with, by many fanciers in every part of the world. Henry didn’t waste much time in purchasing from the master himself namely Mr Rodger Lowe, still a very common name and much talked about fancier 10 years after his Clearance Sale of 1998 when speaking to many which I do in this field of work. You would have to say that Henry’s pursuit in search for an over-all prize winning family of pigeons was timed to perfection with regards Rodgers entire Clearance Sale.

Having made several phone calls and conducted a massive amount of research he set about booking flights to make sure he was to be at the sale in plenty of time to handle his 10 purchases that day in what has proven to be the founding strain of the “Blue Devil Lofts” Empire, when I say Empire that’s exactly what I mean.

Henry is a full-time mechanic and works every hour god sends fortunately the business is sited to the rear of the substantial family owned land. But Henry being Henry he refuses nobody, often putting himself under immense pressure trying to please all and if it weren’t for the unparalleled support and assistance of his good wife Siobhan he openly admits to not being able to race pigeons for it is the good lady who often accompanies the hampers to the Club on basketing night.

After purchasing the Hartogs at Rodgers clearance sale Henry set about adding and breeding them into his own already established family, a family of pigeons that collectively were already producing the goods just not for him but many fanciers around the country, but over-all they weren’t holding their own from every distance. One of the most successful pigeons inside the stock loft was one purchased from Thompson Bros of the Maze just outside Lisburn, this being a full sister to Jeff’s 2nd Open Yearling National and Car Winner which was of Lefebre Dhaenens breeding coming down from the family once owned and sold at Blackpool that being the famous Loughy Brennan of Killyleagh.

Time is very important as I am sure many of you the readers are more than aware with regards pigeon racing, unfortunately Henry no longer has the time that he once did when setting out in 1998 to form a family of prize winning pigeons, so over the last couple of years he has bred and sold pigeons privately rather than putting them to public auction, and I would have to say he has a very good record of supplying the goods. Not surprising of course as he himself was NIPA Section A Fancier of the Year in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 before taking a break from racing in 2004.

You would have to admit the family that he had set out to build has more than achieved what he has requested of them. In all since the introduction of the Rodger Lowe Hartog’s into his own established family he has won countless 1st Club’s, no less than 25 x 1st Section A Diploma’s including many top Open results both with the NIPA and INFC, and also not forgetting RPRA Awards. Just having a check through the results already in 2008 with very little effort Henry McLaughlin has finished 1st Section A Roscrea, 1st, 4th & 7th Section A Clonmel (1,853 Birds); 1st Section A & 2nd Open NIPA Fermoy (5,657 Birds); 5th Section A & 9th Open NIPA Rosscarbery O/B Inland National (6,990 Birds)

As for the breeding of winners or should I say what we know, as in the pigeon game you will not always hear if your pigeons have been successful with other fanciers, this is an occurrence that more times happens than not. I have collated a few performances over the last couple of years with pigeons obtained from “Blue Devil Lofts” again Henry also doesn’t keep a lot of records, so these have just been knocked together with the assistance of “Homer”:- Richard Corey (Coalisland) 1st Section A Kilkenny 2005, 1st Section A & 4th Open NIPA Bude 2005; Willie McCarthy (Dublin) 1st Open Irish South Road Federation Talbenny; Henry Beattie (Laurelvale) 1st Section E & 6th Open NIPA Kilkenny (25,214 birds); M & R Hamilton (Coalisland) 2 x 1st Section A also 2nd Open Yearling Cocks National 2006; G Buckley & Son (Annaghmore) 2nd Open Irish National Flying Club Sennen Cove Y/Bird National 2006; Kevin Carolan (Coalisland) 2nd Open Picauville O/B National (420 miles); Tom Nelson (Dublin) 1st Open Irish South Road Federation Wadebridge 2005; Prunty & Larkin 1st Open INFC Skibbereen O/B National, and 1st Open NIPA Talbenny Y/B National, also bred the Dam of Donnelly Brothers (Newry City) 3rd Open INFC Skibbereen O/B Inland National 2008, 9th Open INFC Yearling National, as well as 24th Open NIPA Rosscarbery.

With reading all above you would have to say that the “Blue Devil Lofts” are in Red Hot Form. Like every top class operation you are always searching for something just to keep you up among the leaders in any given sport, Henry is no different and has brought in a few Soontjens over the last number of months, these he will try for a couple of seasons to see how they perform before blending them into the already established set up. For stock pigeons there are many with all the main pairs kept in individual breeding boxes, this ensures that every nest of youngsters are on the same level of fullness when weaned, as Henry quotes when you have them in their own box they can eat and drink when they need, there is plenty of room and no other inmates harassing them when feeding the youngsters, this will allow for every nest pair to be equal when weaned doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, were as if they were roaming freely in a stock loft you will always find that come the 3rd or 4th round from you main stock will always not be as good as your 1st round. This problem seems to be eradicated with the individual breeding boxes. The 27 purpose built boxes are housed in a custom made 40ft enclosed trailer with fitted lighting and extraction. These will be the main pairs but many more are housed in aviaries around the back of the garages where the daily work is attended to. As you would imagine winner after winner then multiple winner it doesn’t matter where you turn they are all there. Seen a lot of the old originals now responsible for four or five generations of winners.

Handled many of the top birds, too many to mention in this column to be fair would take a weekend to go completely around the complete setup. Some of the ones that come to mind “Blue Devil 73” Blue cock 2000 bred he is sire of “Ballybay Henry” winner of the Skibbereen O/B National for Prunty and Larkin as well as 5th Open and 10th Open prizes, now back with Henry at Blue Devil Lofts were he has bred a 1st Section Roscrea and 4th Section, 9th Open Rosscarbery O/B National already, “Blue Devil 73” is also G/Sire of 2nd Open Picauville O/B National, G/Sire of 2nd Open INFC Yearling National, G/Sire of 1st Section A & 2nd Open Fermoy the same pigeon was also 3rd Section A Five Bird Mallow. A full sister to him I also handled 2001 bred she was 1st Section A & 2nd Open NIPA Swansea Y/B National the loft also finished 2nd Section A & 18th Open that year with only 124 birds home from over 4,000 liberated. She was put to stock as “Swansea Lady” and has bred numerous top class pigeons including 2 x 1st Section winners for Henry himself. In the past she was mated to “Blue Devil Clickity Click” an Ace Racer with no less that 3 x 1st Section success’s to his name they as a pair produced a 1st Open winner for Tom Nelson of Dublin from Penzance, a very good friend.

A full brother to “Blue Devil Clickity Click” is “Blue Devil Wild Boy” you can guess why he has that name he also a winner of 2 x 1st Sections. In the previous paragraph I mentioned about “Ballybay Henry” bought back at the clearance sale of A Smyth & Son of Ballymena a couple of season’s ago, A Smyth & Son having previously purchased him at the Clearance sale for Prunty & Larkin a few years ago. Now Ballybay Henry was mated to “Blue Devil White Flight” on his return she has already produced 4 x 1st Section winners and as quoted above they have produced a 1st Section A Roscrea and 4th Section A & 9th Open Rosscarbery O/B Inland National since entering the stock loft (Trailer). Now “Swansea Lady” and “Blue Devil 73” are brother and sister coming down from the founder of many generations of Section winners namely the 1999 bred “Blue Devil Lady” (see photo). Then you have “Blue Devil Treble O” a 1999 bred Blue Cock he has produced 3 generations of Champions his C.V. includes no less than 5 x1st Section winners and he was also G/Sire to Prunty & Larkin’s Talbenny Y/B National Winner.

“Blue Devil Darkie” Busschaert/Janssen 1999 bred Dark Cock already sire of 3 x 1st Section A Winners plus a 1st Open Winner he is bred down from a pigeon purchased from a good friend of my own Paddy McManus of Ahoghill when mated to a Janssen hen purchased from Mick Fitzhugh of Newcastle. Another one that comes to mind 2001 bred Cheq Cock he is a nest mate of Prunty & Larkin’s best breeder known as “Wingy” he also has bred a 1st Section winner. As I stated earlier I could go on and on the lofts are awash with winner after winner, breeder after breeder. I have included a few bird photos in this article for you to witness the sheer class and similarities displayed throughout this Empire of a family.

I have compiled some loft profiles in my time, with Henry you will not find a more basic system for racing, the O/Birds are raced Roundabout, around 50, and all 80 of the youngsters will be put on the Darkness System. Feeding is the exact same for O/Birds and Young “Gerry Plus” as much as they want the hopper is never empty. With the O/Birds they will be tossed around 8 times before the start of the season and that is it, no more tossing once racing commences. Henry was one of the first to practice this theory during his explosive racing campaign that seen 4 x Section A Fancier of the Year crowns on the bounce, during one of those years he also won 6 x 1st NIPA Section A Diploma’s in a row, how is that for racing. Purely he puts this down to operating this system flying around the home once per day, feeding in with them at all times and no tossing after the first race. Many more of the Coalisland Club members are starting to follow suit and anybody who follows the racing in Northern Ireland will know how well this area is doing now on a weekly basis. The Y/Birds on the other hand will get as much tossing as possible before the start of the Y/Bird season with the first toss around 8 miles with the furthest 35 miles, they will then be brought back to 25 miles and kept there. When racing starts they will still be tossed but will be reduced to 3 times per week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The youngsters come off the Darkness System on the 15th of June and up until then they would have been reared on a mixture of Breeding and Y/B Special. Barley will then be added to their diet to start the process of ranging, they are kept on deep litter with the O/Bird lofts scraped once per day. The water fountains are changed once per day with the usual Garlic and Vinegar added occasionally during the week. The only other additive is Propel.

I would like to thank Henry and wife Siobhan for their hospitality during my visit, I also know that same hospitality is extended to many members of the Coalisland Club for a cooked Sunday breakfast weekly. I have absolutely no doubt that the Blue Devil Lofts will be producing many more winners over the coming months and years and I very much look forward to maybe one day returning to this fine pigeon empire.

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Adie McCormick
Ireland's Own Pigeon Auctions
Tel 028 92 604778

Henry McLaughlin
an ace stock man and owner of the "Blue Devil Lofts" Coalisland.

Orginial Hartog
purchased from Rodger Lowe.

" De Eleven"
Orginial Hartog
purchased at the Clearance sale
for Rodger Lowe in 1998.

"Blue Devil Lady"
Always Stock. Dam and G/Dam of many winners including "Swansea Lady" 2nd Open Y/B National and "Ballybay Henry" winner of 1st Open Skibbereen O/B Inland National.

"Blue Devil Treble O"
Always Stock. Sire, G/Sire and G/G/Sire of many winners including 5 x 1st Section Winners and G/Sire of 1st Open Talbenny Y/B National in 2003.

"Blue Devil Clickety Click"
A superb racer for Henry and winner of over 3 x 1st NIPA Section A Diplomas.

"Blue Devil Wild Boy"
Ace Racer and winner of 2 x 1st NIPA Section A Diplomas and a full brother of "Clickety Click".

"De 449"
All like peas in the pod another of the orginals purchased from Rodger Lowe.

"De Heil"
A true example of the Hartog family.

"De Moon"
A class act in the Stock Loft.

"Stock Loft"
The full length of the custom made stock loft within the 40ft Trailer.
In all it holds 27 x breeding boxes.

*** "For Sale " ***
Young birds from the stock birds at £35 each, from racers at £25 each. All birds sold on first come first
served basis. Some older virgin stock for sale, prices on request.

View Sales Catalogue






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