Open and was beaten to the loft by her own cousin “National
Effort” who finished 6th Open, 1218 birds competing. “National
Effort was sent sitting eight days on eggs and perhaps strangely,
he was the first cock the brothers had timed in national competition.
of 21st, 4th, 6th and 9th in today’s national competitions
would have qualified her for a Hall of Fame and gold medal but
unfortunately, these had not yet been introduced in the 1950s.
These two pigeons were later mated together and had a great influence
in continuing the success with the Kenyons, as we will see further
on. “National Effort” was sent back in 1958 to Redon
and clocked to finish 36th Open. A grand-daughter of “Leading
Lady” was also clocked to win 38th Open. In 1959, the loft
was 7th Open Young Bird National from Milford Haven.
great year started the Sixties, with 27th Open OB National from
Les Sables (610 miles), 7th Open St Malo OB Derby, 56th and 77th
YB National (330 miles).
The following year –1961 – it was back to Les Sables
again, finishing 21st Open and 16th Open in the YB Derby.
In 1962 they moved from Teeshan to their new homes in Ballymena
and a new team of racers had to be built up. One of their first
YBs won 36th Open YB National that year, thus picking up where
they had left off at the old address.
Also that year, a daughter of “National Effort” and
“Leading Lady” bred W Erwin his OB Derby winner. Another
son of this pair bred a young blue pied cock in 1964 to win the
brothers their first national. As well as this he went on to stamp
his authority on the family up to the present day as he was the
sire to the Badwing hen – a goldmine at breeding distance
In 1965 the loft won 41st Open Dinard OB Derby and were 49th and
50th YB National. Other notable achievements that decade included:
1966 - 49th Open OB National Nantes (570 miles); 27th Open NIPA
- 8th Open OB Derby Dinard; 6th Open YB National Penzance. 1968
– 22nd Open OB National Nantes.
1969 – 63rd Open OB National Nantes; 31st Open OB Derby
At the beginning of the 1970s, it would be almost impossible to
continue with such startling results but what a start they made
with 2nd and 6th Open Beauvais (517 miles). The Badwing hen was
dam of 2nd Open and grand-dam of 6th Open. This was the Vaux Usher
race and the birds were liberated with the Up North Combine. This
on a day when the Irish birds were held over in Okehampton. Approximately
eight pigeons came home on the day. By coincidence that day a
fancier arrived for some young birds he had ordered and was in
time to see the 6th Open bird clocked. This was to start another
great era with the Kenyon pigeons as the fancier’s name
was Jackie Patience and he went on to win the King’s Cup
and the Old Bird Derby. He also had 5th and 6th and a host of
other positions from France.
quoted, “Almost all these positions were won by pigeons
coming down from Smyth Bros”, who he considers “the
greatest long distance racers ever to fly into Ireland”.
1970 also started a great success story for a cock called “Silverwings”.
He was from a grandson of “Rennes Queen” when paired
to a grand-daughter of “Leading Lady”.
young bird from him was presented to the Portadown Invitation
Club and was purchased by Mervyn White. This hen was sent to Dinard
in 1970 as a yearling and finished 2nd Open and probably the first
pigeon in Northern Ireland to win more than £1,000. Not
least in 1970, the loft was 23rd Open from Nantes in the Old Bird
National with 2,100 birds competing.
In 1971 a hen bred from a son of “National Effort”
and “Leading Lady” was clocked to win 45th Open in
the Old Bird National from Nantes but was beaten to the loft by
her daughter 24th Open. Clocked in the NIPA Old Bird Derby just
outside open prizes but winning a prize in the section in 1972.
The birds were prepared again in 1973 with the distance races
in mind and again the brothers came up trumps. A hen called “Northern
Lady” bred from a son of “Silverwings” mated
to the Badwing hen was timed in the Kings Cup race from Nantes
finishing 2nd Open –So close! In this Old Bird National,
pigeons bred from Smyth Bros birds finished 5th, 19th, 21st and
45th Open. They also finished 12th Open in Haverfordwest Y/B Derby
The next two years were not as outstanding but they still clocked
three birds in Dinard winning section prizes in 1974 and also
clocked in Dinard the following year, winning a section prize.
The young birds came to the fore and were 14th, 39th and 71st
Open Penzance Y/B National as well as 40th Open Skibbereen Y/B
Another star of the Kenyon family was clocked in the 1976 Old
Bird Derby from Dinard at 5am on the second morning to win 17th
Open and was called “ Early Light”. He was bred from
“Silverwings” and a daughter of the number one stock
pair at this time – a grandson of “Leading Lady”
mated to a grand-daughter of “Rennes Queen”.
A son of “Early Light”, later named “Bobby”,
went to a fancier in Wales named Geoff Howells This cock was the
sire of a hen to win the Welsh National from Lerwick (600 miles)
and she was aptly named “Leading Lady II”. “Bobby”s
dam was from the 6th Open Beauvais cock and a grand-daughter of
“Silverwings”. In 1977 the King’s Cup race was
probably the fastest on record with many pigeons clocked.
The Smyth loft clocked their four entries but only one was in
the prizes, 135th Open. She was a daughter of the Badwing hen,
later named “Highfield Consistent”. That year also
saw them finish 124th Open Y/B National.
In 1978 they had 50th Open Yearling National and then 24th Open
O/B National from Rennes. She was bred from a son of “Silverwings”
when paired to a Truman-Dicken hen.
Nineteen-seventy-nine started with 35th Open Yearling National.
They were 48th Open O/B National Rennes with a hen they called
“Highfield Expected” and also 101st Open with “Highfield
Consistent”. These two hens were half sisters, both from
the Badwing hen. The loft was also 3rd and 42nd Open Y/B National
and 99th Open Y/B Derby. Apart from their own performances in
1979, The breeding of Smyth Bros,were 2nd, 5th, 13th, 49th and
90th for others in the O/B National race. The Eighties began with
122nd Open Yearling National and three clocked from Les Sables
(611 miles) O/B National, 26th, 125th and 127th Open. The 26th
Open hen was a daughter of the last son of “Silverwings”
before he was sold to a Canadian fancier, when paired to “Highfield
The 127th Open was “Highfield Expected”. Four pigeons
had been sent. Three clocked and the fourth – the hen that
had been 24th Open in 1978 – arrived on the fourth morning
The Truman-Dicken hen, dam of the 24th Open pigeon, came from
Ted Vowles, of Meare. A cock bred from the last son of “Silverwings”
when paired to “Highfield Expected” was presented
to Ted and was sire to his great hen “Gwendoline Supreme”,
1st Section, 1st Open British Barcelona Club Blue Riband event
from Palamos (700 miles) – a good cross for both lofts!
Nineteen-eighty-one was a memorable year, starting with 4th Open
Yearling National. The King’s Cup race was flown from Les
Sables (611 miles) and Smyth Bros were 40th Open with “Highfield
Consistent” and 58th Open with “Highfield Expected”,
winning two Hall of Fame awards. These awards are for pigeons
in the prizes three times in the O/B National. Only one other
loft has ever won two in the same year.
In 1982 the loft was 7th Open Yearling National and 66th Open
O/B Derby from Dinard with the cock that had been 4th in the Yearling
National the previous year. An unsettled period for distance racing
began in 1983 with the birds not allowed into France. As there
was no King’s Cup race that year a National race was held
from Folkestone where 9th, 13th and 20th Open positions were won.
The 13th Open pigeon was the one clocked 7th Open Yearling Nat.
in 1982. He was called “Darkie” and was a son of 3rd
Open Y/B National in 1979. The O/B Derby was held from Eastbourne
(396 miles) and again a good result was achieved, 16th and 38th
Open, with the latter being the pigeon which finished 9th Open
The 16th Open, known as the Eastbourne cock, was later sold to
Fountain Head. He was a son of 26th Open Les Sables hen in 1980
when paired to a son of 2nd Open Beauvais cock. For these great
results they were awarded the “Northern Ireland Fanciers
Of The Year”.
In 1984, our racing went to the Scottish route and the best of
the birds were kept at home. But in the Thurso National, 3rd,
4th and 22nd Open positions were won. Minor positions were achieved
in Scotland (1985) and the boat races of 1986. But in 1987, the
birds again started to excel. Although 100 miles shorter than
the French Derbys and Nationals, the birds were 5th Open Guernsey
O/B Derby and 7th and 26th Open Les Landes O/B National as well
as 10th Open in the Y/B National.
In 1988, racing returned to France. The O/B National was again
held from Rennes and the loft was 64th and 145th Open, the second
pigeon being clocked at 10.45 on the day.
In the Yearling National of 1989 the loft was 24th Open, 45th
Open in the O/B Derby from Dinard and 41st Open in the King’s
Cup from Rennes. A very successful year followed with 66th Open
and 192nd in the King’s Cup from Rennes; 1st and 2nd Friendship
National from Sartilly; 86th Open Y/B National Penzance. Entries
were also clocked in Yearling and Skibbereen Y/B Nationals and
they became National Champions of 1991. The loft was also 30th
Open YB Derby.
The 66th Open King’s Cup hen was from the 5th Open Guernsey
cock in 1987 and a daughter of the Hall of Fame hen “Highfield
Consistent”. The Friendship National winner was from an
inbred grand-daughter of “Silverwings”. Her sister,
“Silver Lady”, went to Fountain Head.
Remembering the success of the Truman-Dicken cross in the past,
another grizzle hen was brought over of this strain and a grizzle
son of her and a grandson of “Silverwings” was the
sire of the Sartilly hen. The 2nd Open hen was from a double grandson
of “Silverwings”. Her dam was off a son of the 2nd
Open Nantes National winner. The first National of 1992 was the
Yearling and 165th Open was won. In the King’s Cup race
from Rennes, another super result was attained with 7th and 14th
Open winning the Robinson Cup and the Harkness Rosebowl for the
best two-bird average. In the Y/B National, the loft was 192nd.
The 7th Open hen was a yearling and bred again from the in-bred
grandson of “Silverwings.
The 14th Open hen had been 192nd Open in 1991. She was bred from
a 1982 hen full of the old distance blood. Her sire was from a
brother to 26th Open Les Sables in 1980 when paired to the Hall
of Fame hen “Highfield Consistent” and her dam was
a daughter of the Eastbourne cock.
A full sister of the 1982 hen went to C&L Woodside and was
dam and grand-dam to most of their prizewinners from France including
4th, 18th,21st King’s Cup, and many others. In 1997 they
had 21 different Prizewinners from France in their loft.
1993, the Smyth Bros loft was 12th Open in the NIPA Old Bird Derby
from Dinard with a grand-daughter of the Sartilly National winner.
The following year, 133rd and 194th Open from Rennes in the King’s
Cup were won as well as 59th Open Dinard O/B Derby with a yearling
grand-daughter of the 14th Open King’s Cup hen of 1992.
They were 161st in the Yearling National that year, too.
That same year, Jackie Patience won the NIPA O/B Derby from Dinard
and in 1995 won the King’s Cup with pigeons coming down
from his original Smyth Bros Kenyons.
The 1997 Old Bird National was from a new race point, St Nazaire
(554 miles) where 97th Open was achieved.
In the Friendship National of “98”, 10th Open was
won from Dinard, with 245th in the Yearling National the following
year. In the first year of the new Millennium, 14th Open in the
Young Bird National was won with a pied hen, still the colour
and shape of her ancestors 50 years before. Unfortunately this
hen was killed by a hawk and found lying at the back of the loft.
now passed Eighty years of age Bobby’s energy and enthusiam
of the earlier years was not so much in evidence and with only
keeping about 16 pigeons some of the races were missed out but
in 2003 a Blue Cheq. Cock was clocked in the Penzance Young Bird
National being placed 67th Open. As the racing season of 2004
arrived so too did some of the old enthusiasm because of his confidence
in two half brothers, a Blue and a Blue Cheq. which he intended
sending to France. One of these birds was to go to the NIPA derby
from Lamballe, (470 Miles) and the other to the INFC Old Bird
National from Messac (524 Miles). They were both bred from a son
of Jackie Patience’s King’s Cup winner when mated
to his Old Bird Derby winner. The blue was a grand daughter of
the Sartilly National winner and the Cheq. a grand daughter of
the 14th Open hen of 1992. The Blue was sent to Lamballe and came
to win the club , being the only bird on the day and the Cheq.
went to Messac and was the only bird in the club winning 1st club,
83rd Section and 93rd Open from over 2000 birds. He was also 10th
in the new single bird challenge in the King’s Cup race
and the only member in Ballymena to clock in both races. Not bad
for a young boy of 83.
their success in France to Smyth Bros and their Kenyon strain.
One of these was Alfie Gregg, of Dromore, who was fortunate to
have pigeons from the great “Leading Lady”. Alfie
in-bred these pigeons and got a very small hen which he called
“Maypole Imp”. She was 46th Open King’s Cup
in 1966 and 8th Open in 1967, while pigeons from her daughter
won the Millar Gold Cup for Joe Magner and the King’s Cup
for Eddie Reid. They also bred many more French prizewinners for
A grandson of the Eastbourne cock when mated to the 7th Open King’s
Cup hen bred a cock for W McKillen, which has bred 78th Open Dinard;
97th Y/B National Penzance; 136th Yearling National; 101st King’s
Cup; 103rd King’s Cup; 175th Yearling National; and 23rd
King’s Cup as well as many other positions with grandsons
and grand- daughters.
Many others, too numerous to mention, in all countries of the
world, owe their success to these great fanciers and I apologise
if I have not mentioned them, but there are so many it is impossible
to include them all..
I am sure they would wish Bobby much success in the future and
perhaps even another national success.
Any old or new friends wanting to speak to Bobby can phone him
at, “02825643740” or
write to him at,
20, OLD BALLYMONEY ROAD,
BALLYMENA, CO. ANTRIM,
N. IRELAND. BT43 6LX.