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One of the many pigeons that were found this morning in and around the lofts, all so badly burnt they had to be put down.

Work was already under way with the assistance of local joiner Sydney Kirk and Dickey Quinn replacing the side of a loft that was scorch damaged during last nights inferno.
All that remains of the four lofts gutted in last nights arson attack outside Killyleagh. They belonged to James Cochrane and the partnerships of J & R Quinn and McAllistar & Morrison.

A sombre trio of pigeon fanciers standing were once stood four excellent built lofts, included are Dickey Quinn, Barney Murray, Joiner Sydney Kirk and Killyleagh & District Treasurer Kevin Murray.

Saturday 19th of July was to be the dawn of the Young Bird racing season for some members of the Killyleagh & District HPS flying with the East Down Combine. But sadly this day will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Around 12.30am on Saturday morning the fire service were called to deal with a substantial fire that had engulfed a row of pigeon lofts to the rear of terraced houses in Osborne Drive, Shrigley which is around 1 mile outside the town of Killyleagh. The fire service arrived promptly but by that stage the fire had took significant hold on a number of the lofts, in all four were completely gutted and a number of other lofts close by received scorch damage.

Early indications are that the fire was started deliberately and the local police are continuing with their investigations. In all close to 100 pigeons were destroyed with many of the fanciers who had lofts in the same allotment told by the fire service to let them out for fears of the fire spreading, a lot of these were stock pigeons belonging to a number of partnerships with many now lost for good, so taking everything into account around 200 pigeons were either lost or destroyed as a result of this arson attack. Upon hearing the news while I was in Ballymoney I decided to drive down to Killyleagh to survey the damage at first hand and was welcomed by Barney Murray and Patsy Rice who also introduced me to Kevin Murray Treasurer of Killyleagh and District, Richard Quinn and local joiner Sydney Kirk. One of the first things I noticed was the number of pigeons sitting about the trees obviously looking for their lofts that are no more. Barney Murray was telling me that had it not have been for the prompt action of Barney Grieves in letting a lot of the pigeons out the situation could have been much worse. The lofts totally destroyed included James Cochrane, J & R Quinn and the partnership of McAllister & Morrison. Some pigeons did make a gallant escape from the inferno but were so badly burned they had to be put down.

The fanciers involved would like to thank local resident Barry Mussatt who was first on hand and called the fire service without hesitation. The fanciers in the area are stunned to say the least having enjoyed racing pigeons in that location for the past 36 years without any trouble whatsoever, the sportsmanship was second to none with many long nights enjoyed at the allotment by many of the towns fanciers waiting on pigeons coming from France. 73 year old Dickey Quinn of the J & R Quinn partnership lost his stock loft containing a number of prized pairs including his good Blue Tip hen that had won over £2,000 racing, close to tears watching the loft in flames Barney told me he was considering giving the pigeons up last year and speaking with fellow club mates on Saturday afternoon they have a feeling that this sickening act could be the last straw.

One of the lofts completely gutted was only newly erected this year at a cost of £2,000. On a brighter note if there can be one, it was very encouraging to see work already started in repairing the lofts that had survived with the assistance of fellow fanciers from Killyleagh and upon leaving I told them that I would do all I could to assist them in organizing a sale to help raise funds to enable the replacement of the lofts that had been lost in this terrible arson attack. Any fanciers out there who would like to donate a pigeon to be auctioned can contact me on the usual numbers, or email me, alternatively you can contact any member of the Killyleagh & District HPS.

Adie McCormick
Tel 028 92604778.


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