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PIGEON'S MADE OF STEELE: Malachy Maguire & Son, Newry & District

Malachy Maguire holding 1st NIPA Sect G Pilmore Beach and son Mark Maguire holding "Blue Gem" 1st Open NIPA Rosscarbery Ylr Hens National 2008.
"Blue Gem" winner of the Yearling Hens National coming down from Wily Jacobs pigeons obtained from Gerald Delaney of Dromore in County Down.

This is the impressive 40ft x 12ft Roundabout Loft that has housed many champion pigeons over the years.

A shot of some of the youngsters within one section of the Young Bird Loft, owned by M Maguire & Son of Newry.

A snap of the Widowhood cocks out enjoying the sun on top of the loft that measures 18ft x 12ft.

A quick snap of the happenings within one of the Stock Sections of the lofts owned by M Maguire & Son of Newry.

"Second to None" won 1st Open NIPA from Pilmore Beach 1,312/25,641 recording velocity 1351 in a NW wind.
"Champion Home Alone" winner of 1st Open NIPA O/B National, being the only bird on the day flying 15 & 1/2 hours on the wing, at stock he is responsible for over 30 x 1st prize winners for the Maguire loft.
"Moonlight Lass" daughter of "Champion Home Alone" when mated to "Portavogie Lass" winner of 1st Open NIPA O/B National only bird on the day for Palmer & Young of Portavogie. "Moonlight Lass" won the INFC Single Bird Challenge in 2005, and was subsequently killed around the loft by a hawk.
"Champion No Problem" he is a full brother to "Moonlight Lass" and a son of "Champion Home Alone" currently he is a winner of over 11 x 1st's for the Maguire loft and is this years contender for the partnership in the INFC Single Bird Challenge.

The Ritz is an understatement, that was the thoughts running through my head when entering the lofts of Malachy and Mark Maguire who have for some time now been a dominate force in pigeon racing flying with the NIPA and the Irish National Flying Club to their Yew Tree Lofts in the Newry City area of Northern Ireland.

With visiting many outstanding lofts all over Ireland I thought I had seen it all, if pigeons could talk they would all be looking accommodation at the Maguire’s set up, it is out of this world, as is the view that the pigeons have flying into the double story lofts. A view that takes in the whole of Newry City and border Counties.

After winning the NIPA Yearling Hens National during the week and previous Open success from Pilmore Beach and subsequently winning the Channel Challenge in 2005 and an excellent candidate competing this year for the same award, these performances and continual excellent results especially at National level over the years told me it was time to pay the Maguire’s a visit and share their performances and set up with you the fancy.

No strangers to success they have countless champions at their spacious lofts they include the infamous “HOME ALONE” winning 1st Open in the NIPA Old Bird National from Fougeres the only bird on the day flying 15 ½ hours, a winning pigeon through and through with countless other top class performances to his name and more importantly in total breeding over 30 x 1st prize winners for the Maguire’s. He is also the sire of  “Moonlight Lass” and “No Problem” when mated to “Portavogie Lass” who won the Millar Gold Cup this being the only bird into Ireland in 1996 from Dinard for Palmer & Young of Portavogie.

“NO PROBLEM” (what a star of a pigeon the picture certainly doesn’t tell the thousand words as they say) he has won a total of 11 individual firsts - in the INFC 2005 he was 1st Club, 1st 3 Bird Club, 1st North/South Federation, 3rd North Section, 4th Open Picauville O/B National. Next it was sent to the Portland O/B National with the NIPA 1st Club, 1st 3 Bird Club, 1st North/South Federation, 2nd Section G, 26th Open on top of that he has also a 1st Section Diploma flying with the NIPA and was only last week 1st Club this being his very first race without training, this pigeon will be representing the Maguire loft in the 2008 Single Bird Challenge with the loft previously winning this ultimate award with a sister called “Moonlight Lass” in 2005, these two superb racers are from the pigeon first mentioned “Home Alone“ when mated to “Portavogie Lass“.

Another Star “NEAR MISS” winner of 1st Club, 1st Combine, 4th North Section 6th Open from the INFC Kings Cup Redon, MOONLIGHT LASS as mentioned above won 1st Open Single Bird Challenge INFC Messac Kings Cup (481 miles) 2005 finishing 17th North Sect & 19th Open, only 108 birds home. This superb pigeon was also killed around the loft the very next morning after I photographed her in 2005 at the Maguire’s loft. This is only scratching the surface to a world of class pigeons in the stock lofts I have only listed four pigeons above the list of performers is far greater than that of the performances. The father and son team don’t keep records of performances, they don’t sell pigeons full stop so find no need to either seek glorification through pigeon papers or by selling, hence no records. They love the French racing and money has never been a problem in obtaining stock to strengthen the team trying to achieve their ultimate goal of winning the most sought after award in Irish pigeon racing circles, the Blue Riband King George V Challenge Cup.

The father and son partnership have come close so many times to mention and subsequently lost and continue to lose top class pigeons around the loft with the peregrine problem nearing disaster terms. Malachy was telling me they just can‘t train anymore up the road as the batch will be hit in ratio at least once every four times. Flying them around the house can equally be as disastrous with many attacks weekly one such attack that sticks in  Malachy’s mind was a Red Cheq cock who previously had finished 14th & 16th in the Kings Cup and was sent for the third time only to be plucked no more than 30 feet from the loft on return from making it the treble, how hard a sucker punch would that not be to see a pigeon of that calibre home and then taking from the skies by the fanciers worst enemy.

With Malachy and son Mark I could write a life time and I would still feel the depth and calibre of just not them as fanciers but the family of pigeons would still not have gained the recognition that they so rightfully deserve. You get that feeling very few times when compiling loft profiles, the class and substance is just to great to quantify into words. Realistically you are looking at one of the greatest channel racing lofts currently in Ireland, and I don’t make that statement lightly.

A list of performances have been compiled on this partnership from our database of performance fanciers with the assistance of Homer as usual, I think it will make interesting reading for you the fancier and probably the Maguire Family also, they can be boring to some, but there are many like me who base the quality of a fancier by his results. These can be viewed along with this article on, thought it better to list them here rather than filling the pages of the BHW or RP where the space is limited.

Malachy has been involved with pigeons for over 50 years now, with the assistance of son Mark during this great empire of achievement, as a team they fly in the Newry & District HPS and the Millvale HPS, these two Clubs are part of the North/South Federation and also the NIPA to which the Clubs fit into the area of Section G. Malachy owns a Steel Fabrication business in Newry City although now retired our supposed to be, Mark is now running the show, although Malachy is more times there than not.

The family of pigeons are some-what of a mixture, but with great emphases put into the distance aspect of racing when selecting any stock. Malachy admits the distance racing is easier managed, and he gets greater joy from seeing them return from an ultimate test. This month they will be sending their good Pied Hen to Barcelona and are looking forward to this race as this hen has won the Combine into Newry no less than 5 times from French race points, she is a star of a pigeon with no less than 11 x 1st’s to her name. Also as I type this the ring marking for the INFC Yearling National is this afternoon in Lisburn and Malachy is sending two birds direct from “Champion Home Alone” and 3 x Grand-children off him. So don’t be surprised if you are reading more about this fantastic loft in the next few weeks.

The stock over the years have seen an amalgamation from a few very good sources these include John & Jean Hollinger (loft profile a few weeks ago on this couple by myself in this publication, they took the first seven positions into Millisle from Talbenny at the weekend) Dave Delea of Essex, the great Gerald Delaney of Dromore (could very well have bred this weeks NIPA Open Winner as well as supplying the stock that produced Malachy’s National winner during the week), Dean Pallatt, Sandy Bain from Duns in Berwickshire, and last but by no means least Van Geels from Louella, these pigeons have been an inspiration to the Maguires set up and Malachy can not thank the Massarella’s enough for the excellent pigeons that he has obtained from them over the years.

The father and son team race around 25 pigeons each week, these are made up from the Widowhood and Roundabout teams, with greater attention to detail placed on the selection of the team once the racing programme has reached Penzance in Cornwall, then the would move more onto the pigeons that have specifically been set aside for the further flying tests.  These are mostly paired pigeons that ideally will always see the transporter when sitting on a early hatched chick this being the preferred nesting condition, these pigeons would be mated around the middle of March, then would then sit on dud eggs the first time around and then would be encouraged to re-mate this time sitting the full time on the real eggs, this normally ties in nicely to the racers that they are required for.  

As mentioned at the start of this article training can be a nightmare, but they would like to have them up the road as often as possible from around the 70 mile mark Malachy and Mark at this point would like to thank Derek Parr for all his help with the training, they are kept fit but not over worked, again flying around the lofts can have its hazards also, again it is very much dependant on what is in the skies above the lofts, with the Maguires fabulous set up sitting nicely on the hill over looking Newry it makes easy meat for the Peregrine Falcons. With working the pigeons hard they are fed as much within reason as they want, but as with many of the excellent fanciers they always state that good healthy pigeons will never over eat, and some times food could be removed for an extended time to make sure they have a sizable meal before any extreme distance channel race that they may be competing in. Beyers Corns are the preferred choice with McCausland’s Breeding used in the rearing of the youngsters. An excellent array of Minerals, Pick Stones and Grit are available at all times with Garlic Gloves added to the water twice per week, with Cider Vinegar the only other ingredient added to the water, this being once per week. Every pigeon at the Maguire’s will get a treatment pre season for Canker, Worms and Coccidiosis, they are very much against mixing anything else with the pigeons in the form of supplements or  medicines, they think this has only helped the pigeon family that they have grafted over the last few years as they have never had any periods of sickness either with young or old.

The 80 or so Y/Birds reared will be raced on the Darkness System, when I say raced only around 30 of these will see the racing programme with the remainder just trained up, this is a very common thing with the Maguire’s only training youngsters, it obviously works for this weeks NIPA Yearling Hens National Winner for the boys never seen the transport as a youngster, only being tossed up to 70 miles.

The lofts are spacious and are immaculate from the corner of the roof to the corner of the floor, regardless when you call it’s no different, a true credit to Malachy and Mark. The lofts are all of wooden structure with tiled roofs the Roundabout one is the largest in the garden measuring a whopping 40ft x 12ft with a look out office. The Y/B Darkness loft is 30ft x 12ft, the Widowhood loft is 18ft x 12ft, and finally the Stock Loft with fitted Aviaries measures 20 ft x 10ft.

The Maguire family don’t sell pigeons full stop, they have a lot of time for novices and Malachy thinks any experienced fancier for the good of the sport should always make time for new starts who have a lot of questions needing honestly answered. As for new people coming into the sport he would recommend firstly picking what type of a pigeon your looking to race sprint or distance, then select a fancier doing well in that particular field and try and buy as close to the winning tree as possible, but most importantly don’t neglect the lofts strict hygiene standards are a must, with the concept being if its not good enough for you to live in its not good enough for the pigeons to live in.

I will pen off by wishing the M Maguire & Son partnership of Newry every success in completing their long sought after goal, winning the Kings Cup, and have know doubt it may not happen but you can be rest assured these two fine men, great supporters of all to do with pigeons in Ireland, will always be knocking on the door with their finely grafted family of Long Distance racing pigeons.


** Please revisit this article in a few days to see the results portfolio for this outstanding partnership specifically channel racing dating back to 2002 ** 


Adie McCormick
Ireland’s Own Pigeon Auctions
Tel. 028 92 604778.

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