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The Grooters
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The origin of the Grooter strain is not without some mystery but by 1868 it had announced its arrival as a force in the sport of pigeon racing. It was then that Grooter was 1st from Agen and within the following 12 months was 1st from Bazas. First prize from Narbonne was to follow the initial successes and these were the beginnings of a fabulous career in the sport.

A reliable source contends that Grooter obtained stock from Mr. Delderenne of Antwerp to be followed up by similar stock from the same person in 1875. The latter fancier was a friend of the loft manager of the famous Mr. Ulens and it was rumoured that the Grooters were mostly of this family. A part of the Grooters family however were the famous 'White Throats', or 'Witkelen' in the native tongue. They apparently derive from a fancier called Mitchel of Brussels and a pigeon known as 'The Irish Hen' which was bought from a fancier known as Delacroix by a Mr. Claes. The Irish bird was a white pigeon with blue specks and it mothered with the Mitchel bird the famous 'De Wittekeel' who won the above mentioned National from Narbonne. The latter was a blue cock. Grooter had obtained and crossed in some other bloodlines such as those of Jan Voos via Vanderlinden of Gent. Thus lay the basis of a beautiful strain of racing pigeons who in due course would etch their name in the history of the sport. However of special interest to myself as a native of Ireland is an Irish pigeon's role in the foundations of one of the great strains. A racing pigeon from the Emerald Isle in the land of the sports origins in the latter years of the 19th Century. A mystery which perhaps shall remain a mystery.

As well as the wins by Grooter himself many were the successes of his strain in other parts of the world, that is, confirmation of the winning qualities of a strain not restricted to its founder's base or environment. For example, who of the older generation of fancier has not heard of the famous Hammond and Whittaker family of Grooters based in Cheshire, in England. Perhaps the greatest stud of Grooters aside from the master himself. The latter loft were the producers of National winners in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as the supplier of the seven times 800 miles hen of L. Gardiner of Canada. Their bloodlines were also in 1st Open International Barcelona (725 miles) and 2nd Open International Palamos (698 miles). The world record holder the famous 'Dual Lady'- Faroes north and Barcelona south in the same season carried this blood. This loft alone recorded approximately 50 1st Federation (8 times 1st Federation in the same season) and about 30 times Combined Average plus approximately 6 R.P.R.A. long distance awards. Some flying- perhaps a record.

To conclude, more could be written about the success of the Grooter strain but in line with the sense of mystery emanating from my research relating to its origins I will draw the curtains on it by acknowledging that it occupies a high place in the history of our sport. As many will confirm!

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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