Fears pigeon racing will disappear in Ireland after massive drop in membership
Corrie Star Jack Duckworth made pigeon racing famous, but there are fears the sport will die out here, the Irish Mirror can reveal.
Since its peak in the mid-1980s, when there were over 2,000 members in the Federation, the number has dropped to just 800 and continues to decline.
But there are still 120 homing pigeon clubs in Ireland and those who love the sport are determined to recruit more members.
“Once you get a few pigeons it becomes a passion,” said John O’Brien who has been breeding pigeons for four years.
“They are remarkable birds. We all know their rallying abilities, but they can also see pressure in the atmosphere and solar pulses and wavelengths that are not visible to the human eye.
John, 31, from Clondalkin, Dublin who is the spokesperson for the Irish South Road Federation hopes that a growing number of young people will take an interest in it as well as retirees.
He added: “I can safely say that being interested in breeding and racing pigeons has saved me.
“I guarantee anyone who tries and gets a few birds will get hooked.
“Can there be another creature that you can let loose in England or France that will return home to Ireland in less than a day?”
While a few award-winning pigeons can be worth up to € 310,000 for those passionate about racing abroad, most pigeons are only worth a few hundred euros, but they are invaluable to those who devote so much time and effort. efforts to raise them and make them run.
The chairman of the Irish Southern Route Pigeon Federation Henry Byrne, who has been raising birds since the age of 12, has said that some members of the public consider pigeons to be pests, which is completely absurd.
Pointing to the spotlessly clean loft at St Margarets in north Dublin, he said many pigeon fanciers take care of their birds as well as their children.
He said, “These birds live in luxury and they get the best attention.
Pigeons are mistakenly believed to attract rats and are dirty, but that is simply not true, according to Henry.
He said: “Fanciers almost look better for their birds than their children … just ask their wives.”
Henry explained that some fanciers race their pigeons from West Cork to Dublin while others send them to the UK or even France.
“They could get back from France in nine hours, but it could take them 15 hours or more if the weather was bad.”
He also revealed that between 2003 and 2008 he had a black pigeon nicknamed “The Dark Destroyer” who won 15 races and is still alive and breeding.
Anyone interested in keeping pigeons can get details at www.racingpigeon.ie which provides links to the Irish Homing Union and the Irish South Road Federation.
Expensive pigeons: Two years ago a Belgian chicken coop with 530 pigeons sold for 4.3 million euros. The star pigeon Bolt was bought by a Chinese businessman for a staggering sum of € 310,000.
Although named after the Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, it will not run because it was purchased for breeding.
TEN FACTS ABOUT PIGEONS
1. Most of our domestic pigeons have a common ancestor, the rock pigeon.
2. The racing carrier pigeons were recorded at an average speed of 92.5 mph on a 400 mile race.
3. It is known that carrier pigeons cover 700 miles in a day.
4. Pigeons helped in WWI and WWII and saved countless lives.
5. Pigeons achieved a 98% success rate in missions performed during WWII.
6. Pigeons are still used by the French, Swiss, Israeli, Iraqi and Chinese armies.
7. They can and are ready to breed when they are 5-6 months old.
8. They can reproduce from the age of 10 years.
9. They are bred, bred and trained as well as thoroughbred horses.
10. Queen Elizabeth is passionate about pigeons and runs lofts on one of her estates.