1977 was a big year for Ballymena

Having retrieved all the major snips of information and reports plus results over the major races of 1976 season I will now check up on the meetings that took place prior to racing in 1977, one of the big events was the annual meeting of the Mighty NIPA and I am pleased to again feature the words of the late James Martin in his weekly column in the Ballymena Guardian, some memories, and more to follow.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:04 am
Sandy Mairs of Millvale with his pigeon Barcelona Bluebelle, the first ever Irish pigeon to fly 1,000 miles when it flew 1,001 miles from Barcelona in 1965!
Sandy Mairs of Millvale with his pigeon Barcelona Bluebelle, the first ever Irish pigeon to fly 1,000 miles when it flew 1,001 miles from Barcelona in 1965!

It was a big season to look forward to with the election of Tommy Harper of Ballymena & District as NIPA President and the decision made that the annual Ladies Night would be held in the local Adair Arms Hotel. I am sorting the archive out as I go along, there is plenty to sort from photographs, newspaper cuttings and a host of Weekly Books and Year Books. Time is the big problem, but it is being worked at weekly, most of the old material is either on the website or being put on. I also need to spend some time updating the INFC History, click on the link on the top banner. Almost every week I learn something new, modern technology is a blessing.

Tommy Harper elected President of the NIPA

The thirty-second annual general meeting of the NIPA was held on Saturday 22nd January, in Glenavy. In his opening remarks the chairman Mr L Boyle (Dromore) said how very-pleased he was to see such a large turn-out of club delegates. He asked if the members would stand as a mark of respect for the club’s late President Mr W McCluggage and he also included all deceased NIPA members.

President Tom Service collects the Sennen Cove Nom Cup from Fiona.

The secretary Mr S Halliday (Banbridge) then read out the minutes of the last AGM. These were passed without question. Item 2 on the agenda was the passing of accounts and under this quite a number of queries were raised. Each was given a satisfactory answer by the secretary and the accounts were passed. I quite agree with a suggestion put from the floor that clubs that have questions to ask on accounts should firstly notify the secretary. This would enable him to give a more detailed answer.

Under any other 1976 business the secretary read out two notices of resignation from Cookstown & District HPS and Cushendall & District. Both clubs were clear in the books and the resignations were accepted. Fanciers not seeking re-election to general committee were J Patience (Lurgan) and W McCluggage jun. (Larne). Mr S Quigley from the floor paid a tribute for the work these men had carried out on behalf of the fancy. The chairman then went on to discuss the situation regarding the office of President. Prior to Mr W McCluggage taking over after his long service as secretary the post was held for one year only. Mr Boyle felt that we now had an opportunity to revery to the old system. He suggested that we also elect a Vice President, also for one year and he should succeed as President the following year. As we now had 5 Sections it was his suggestion that the office should rotate. The meeting agreed.

Before the election of officials the chairman spoke in glowing terms of the great work carried out for the club by the late Mr W McCluggage. He was one of the founder members and it was mainly through him that the club had grown to be one of the largest in Great Britain. The chairman then thanked everyone for their help during the year and called on T Harper to conduct the election.

For the first office of President there were two nominations. T Harper (Ballymena) for Sect B and J McAllister (Carrickfergus) for Sect C. In the vote Tommy Harper carried 91 votes to 32. This is a great honour brought to the town of Ballymena and is richly deserved. The following list of offices were elected without opposition. Vice President J McAllister, Chairman L Boyle, Vice Chairman D Campbell (Harryville), Financial Secretary S Halliday (Banbridge), Ass Secretary J Vage (Dromore), Race Controller A M Brown (Crumlin), Race Committee A McDonnell (Coleraine) and S Halliday, Auditors Robinson & Co (Portadown).

Another dinner presentation for Broughshane a few years back.

The General Committee was re-elected and reads as last year. H A Montgomery (Coleraine), J Vage (Dromore), H McVeigh (Killyleagh), G A Willis (Portadown), J Savage (Crumlin), R McCracken (Banbridge), B Fox (Lisburn), V Thom (Cookstown), T Harper (Ballymena). The two vacant positions were filled by M Donnelly (Larne) and R Surples (Lurgan).

The Transport Committee was re-elected and reads. T Harper, G Gibson (Comber), F Russell (Dromore), N Girvan (Newry), S Halliday, B McCandless (Dromore), S Quigley (Londonderry). Elected to take the positions of W McCluggage sen and J Patience were F O’Reilly (Glengormley) and S Patterson (Dromore).

The Reserve Committee were elected en-bloc with the exception of W McClure (Kells) who stood down, W Reynolds (Harryville) was elected to fill the vacancy. The rest of the committee reads. B Goudy (Muckamore), A McDonnell, C Savage (Castledawson), G Galway (Portadown), J Mercer (Lurgan), B McCandless, W Bell (Banbridge), W Parkes (Killyleagh), C Kennedy (Lisburn), J Hunter (Larne). Mr Boyle then returned to the chair and thanked the members for his re-election.

The next item was number five – passing of rules as submitted to clubs. Fanciers have been pressing for some time now to have a new Rule Book to replace the old 1948 one. The committee spent some time during the past year going through the minute book and drawing up a list of the up-dated club rules. Copies of these were sent out to all clubs for approval. After several questions from the floor the delegates passed the rules and new books will be issued in the coming year.

George Eagleson collects his MAC Diploma from special guest Mrs Fiona Connolly.

First Resolutions on the agenda were from the Ahoghill Flying Club – 6 (1) That the secretary submits to each club secretary minutes of all NIPA Committee meetings.

The chairman spoke on some length on this and well understood what the club were getting at ie lack of information. After consideration he found he had no alternative but to withdraw the motion as it was out of order. This was strongly opposed by J Martin of the Ahoghill FC who went on to state his club’s point of view on the subject. It was finally agreed the item be discussed under any other business.

6 (2) also submitted by Ahoghill – That the NIPA Ladies Night rotate through the Derby Marking Centres of Banbridge, Moira, Muckamore, Ballymena and Coleraine. The motion carried by 64 votes to 49. Three Resolutions from Dromore West End followed.

7 (1) – the open pool money be divided into 40 cuts in all pools to and including £2. 7 (2) – That section pool money have 20 cuts to and including £2. Both these were carried unanimously. 7 (3) – That the Nomination in the open in all derby races be for a Colour TV was defeated 100 votes to 11. I myself can see no reason why we cannot have a separate TV Nom ination in the derby races. Perhaps next year.

The Broughshane & Dist winners and officials who attended the 2008 prize night.

The last two Resolutions were from Dromore HPS. 8 (1) That the individual membership fee be increased by 50p, same to be used to increase the salary of secretary and assistant secretary. It was pointed out from the floor that under last year’s membership this would have raised an extra £1,360. A suggestion that the chairman withdraw the motion as out of order was rejected. The increase proposed would have been over 100%. On a vote the motion was defeated 96 votes to 24. Under 8 (2) Road Transport to Dinard (France) the motion was again defeated 102 votes to 20. I would like to point out that all the resolutions are in an edited form.

As there were no further points the AGM was closed and a Delegate Meeting was opened. This was to deal mainly with application of clubs. Under (1) to confirm the committee’s provisional application the following clubs were elected. Dromara HPS, Ballylinney HPS and Ballyholme SRPC. Under (2) on an appeal Maiden City RPS was accepted 62 votes to 26. The chairman pointed out to the meeting that in the future they should be careful about appointing clubs through internal disputes. It was not in the best interest of the NIPA to have small clubs springing up all over the Province when one considered the extra work for the secretary and the need for new transporter routes. He was not against any new club provided they were catering for new members.

The point was then raised on Motion 6 (1). A final suggestion from the chair that the secretary issue a News Release when appropriate was accepted. A suggestion from the floor that the committee award the secretary and assistant secretary a reasonable salary increase was agreed.

The chairman pointed out the role played by the late Mr McCluggage on the finance side of the transport of birds and that the secretary would now have this extra function to cover. It was agreed that this be taken into consideration with the salary increase.

A new trophy donated by Diamond Bros on behalf of their late father will be up for competition next year. Its for Best Average over two Young Bird Derbies. The chairman commented that with such an array of trophies that the NIPA had, the winners should make an attempt to attend Ladies Night for the distribution. He also mentioned a complaint from the RPRA (Irish Region) that some birds which have been reported missing are not being claimed. He said failure to claim a bird could result in a member being suspended.

The secretary stated that Ladies Night 1977 will be held in Ballymena and he read out the year’s racing programme. Starting on 16th April and going two Arklow’s, two Wexford’s, two Dungarvan’s, two Haverfordwest’s, Okehampton, Weymouth and the Dinard OB Derby of 25th June. They will have a free weekend 1st July for the OB National Kings Cup. Young birds start 9th July and go two Dublin’s, two Arklow’s, two Wexford’s, Haverfordwest Derby, Dungarvan and Skibbereen Derby. No free week has been allocated for the YB National Penzance. The secretary stated that the liberation point at Dungarvan has had to be moved something like three miles. He apologised for members having to be re-measured. The meeting closed at around 5.30pm.

From (l) George Eagleson winner YB Ave, Harry Smyth Secretary and Johnny Simpson Highest Prize-winner.

Broughshane & District 2008 Prize Night at Michelin

The Michelin Athletic Club in Ballymena was the venue once again for the Annual Dinner and Prize Distribution of Broughshane & District HPS. On Saturday 29th November. A very good attendance of around 70 members and friends were welcomed by Secretary Harry Smyth. They were soon seated to enjoy a very enjoyable four course meal. After the meal the chairman on behalf of the club thanked the chef Charlie and his staff for a top-class meal and excellent service. He also thanked the Michelin Athletic Club for the use of the premises. The many sponsors were thanked including Tom and Betty Service and all those who helped during the race season.

As is always the tradition of the club a member’s wife is the special guest and Mrs Fiona Connolly was invited to present the awards won during racing in 2008. After a vote of thanks the Treasurer Davy Houston presented her with a bouquet of flowers in appreciation.

The club raffle was again very successful, and Davy thanked all those who gave prizes or helped in any way to make the night a top success. He especially thanked the Secretary for having the cups and trophies all looking well on the night and the proceedings that were organized to the highest level. It was then on for a night of chat and dancing and the large turn-out enjoyed themselves till it was time for home.

Club Averages: The leading lofts for the season were: J & N Simpson, D Houston & Son, G & A Eagleson, H Smyth & Son, G Connolly, A Purvis, G Martin, Mrs M Smyth, T & E Service, J McNaughton & Son, J Getty and C Kennedy. OB Inland Ave (S McFarland Cup) - G & A Eagleson Vel 1455. Runner-up, D Houston & Son Vel 1450. OB Cross Channel Ave (Mazda Cup) - J & N Simpson Vel 1267. Runner-up, G Martin Vel 1119. YB Average (Montgomery Cup - G & A Eagleson Vel 1283. Runner-up, J & N Simpson Vel 1267. Combine Ave (W Ramsey Cup - J & N Simpson Vel 1316. Best Ave All Derbies (Thatch Trophy) - J & N Simpson Vel 1269. Old Bird Points (Countryman Trophy) - J & N Simpson 79 Points. Lowest Winning Velocity (Johnston Cup) - D Houston & Son Vel 1043. Breeder & Buyer Race - D Houston & Son, Breeder & Buyer. Highest Prize-winner (J Robinson Memorial Cup) - J & N Simpson.

Club Nomination Races 2008: Sennen Cove O/B (T Ramsey Memorial Cup) - T & E Service. Bude Best Yearling (Broughshane Club Trophy) - D Houston & Son. Talbenny (1) O/B (Jubilee Cup) - J & N Simpson. Mullingar (2) Y/B (Youth Fellowship Cup) - D Houston & Son. Roscrea Y/B (Harper Cup) - J Getty. Pilmore Beach Y/B (Dickson Cup) - D Houston & Son. Clonmel Y/B Golden Ring (Clydes Kitchen Cup) - J & N Simpson. Bird of the Year (W Workman Memorial Plint) - J & N Simpson. His 3yo Blue Cheq hen won 3rd Club Talbenny (1), 1st Club Talbenny (2), 1st Club Bude (Also 1st MAC & 1st Sect B) and 5th Club Sennen Cove.

NIPA Old Birds 2008: Navan 215 Birds/Vel 1589 (T Bamber Memorial Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 19th Combine. Tullamore 250 Birds/Vel 1043 (W Taylor Memorial Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 3rd Combine. Roscrea 289 Birds/Vel 1667 (McCabe Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 12th Combine. Clonmel 292 Birds/Vel 1806 (McAllister Shield) - H Smyth & Son 1st Club & 9th Combine. Pilmore Beach 273 Birds/Vel 1379 (Broughshane Trophy) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club, 1st Combine & 1st Sect B. Rosscarbery Inland Derby 56 Birds/Vel 1492 (Lyttles Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club, 9th Comb & 136th Open. Pilmore Beach 227 Birds/Vel 1158 (Village Cup) - H Smyth & Son 1st Club & 10th Combine. Talbenny (1) 150 Birds/Vel 1201 (Ballymena Utd Social Club Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 14th Combine. Talbenny (2) 84 Birds/Vel 1317 (Club Shield) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 28th Combine. Fermoy (comeback) 68 Birds/Vel 1478 (Tuff Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 8th Combine. Bude 45 Birds/Vel 1237 (Halfway House Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club, 1st Combine & 1st Sect B. Sennen Cove 66 Birds/Vel 1309 (McCreadie Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club, 15th Comb & 120th Open. St Malo O/B Derby 11 Birds/Vel 617 French Challenge Cup and Reade Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 14th Combine.

NIPA Young Birds 2008: Navan 98 Birds/Vel 1352 (Slemish Tavern Cup) - D Houston & Son 1st Club & 27th Combine. Mullingar 229 Birds/Vel 1417 (Olympic Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 11th Combine. Tullamore 246 Birds/Vel 1696 (Fir Park Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 5th Combine. Roscrea 171 Birds/Vel 1310 (Civic Cup) - G Martin 1st Club & 25th Combine. Tullamore 131 Birds/Vel 1618 (Fleming Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 17th Combine. Pilmore Beach 195 Birds/Vel 1216 (Hazlett Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 15th Combine. Mullingar/Talbenny Derby 20 Birds/Vel 1390 (Smyth Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 15th Combine. Tullamore (comeback) 80 Birds/Vel 1318 (Clarke Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 2nd Combine. Fermoy 89 Birds/Vel 1159 (Davidson Shield) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 15th Combine. Rosscarbery Derby 26 Birds/Vel 1155 (R Fleck Memorial Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 35th Combine.

Irish Nat Flying Club 2008: Skibbereen North O/B Nat (Braid Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club & 10th Combine. Yearling Nat Sennen Cove (W Quaite Memorial Cup) - J & N Simpson 1st Club, 5th Comb & 51st Open. O/B Kings Cup (J Graham Memorial Cup) - Race Cancelled. Y/B Nat Sennen Cove (Youngs Cup) - No birds timed. Y/B Nat Skibbereen North (Club Cup) - G & A Eagleson 1st Club & 9th Comb.

Hopefully we will have the 2020 report shortly in the meantime this short report will please one of my weekly readers, retired from the sport but still keeping up with my news reports.

BHW/INFC Single Bird Challenge 2021

As usual the last day for accepting entries for the single bird challenge will be 17th March. All entries stand from last season. If anyone wants to change their previous entry they can send a new one, with no fee required, to the address below. Any new members wishing to enter the challenge should send all details to me, with a £5/€7 fee payable to INFC, David Black, 11 Drumiller Hill, Dromore, Co. Down, BT25 1EP.

Obituary – Mr Sammy Thompson

I just had the sad news over the weekend that Sammy Thompson from Bushmills had passed away, just a few short weeks after the passing of his wife Edith, his funeral was held on Tuesday. Sammy was a very highly respected member of the fancy and served the members for many years in the various Committees of the sport. He was the man for the meetings, and I remember him from away back, I travelled with him many times over the years starting out at the time when the late Davy Campbell and Anthony McDonnell were prominent members.

In recent years he had retired but still attended the odd meeting, he knew the rules and procedures, in great detail. He was a Live Vice-President in the Irish National Flying Club, a Vice President and Patron of the Mighty NIPA and in the RPRA (Irish Region) also a Life Vice-President having served at the Irish Region for many years and in recent seasons had stood down as one of the two local RPRA Councillors which probably gave him, the greatest enjoyment.

We had some time with him at the Blackpool Show of the Year in 2017 when Rosie and myself were guests of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. Sammy just lived for the pigeons, especially the meetings where he had a good head for problem solving.

On behalf of the whole fancy in Ireland, and members of the INFC, NIPA and RPRA (Irish Region) we send sincere condolences to the entire family circle at what had been a very-sad time. Willie Reynolds.

NIPA Race programme 2021

This is the proposed agreed race programme for 2021. I do not have to remind you that this programme could be amended at any time. There is an application from Glen HPS to become members for 2021. This application has firstly to be approved by the RPRA (Irish Region).

NIPA Old Birds – Saturday 11th April Mullingar. Saturday 17th April Tullamore, Saturday 24th April Roscrea, Saturday 1st May Gowran Park, Saturday 8th May Fermoy, Saturday 15th May Castletown, Saturday 22nd May Barleycove Inl National, Saturday 22nd May Fermoy, Saturday 29th May Talbenny, Saturday 5th June Talbenny, Saturday 5th June Fermoy OB 5Bird Duplicating, Saturday 12th June Bude, Saturday 12th June Skibbereen Yearling National, Saturday 19th June Penzance & Penzance OB Classic, Saturday 19th June Fermoy, Thursday 24th June St Malo/Plougastel OB National.

NIPA Young Birds – Saturday 17th July Area Liberations, Saturday 24th July Area Liberations, Saturday 31st July Roscrea (Mass Lib), Saturday 7th August Gowran Park, Saturday 14th August Fermoy, Saturday 21st August Fermoy & Fermoy YB 5Bird, Saturday 28th August Talbenny YB National, Saturday 28th August Roscrea, Saturday 4th September Corrin, Saturday 11th September Skibbereen YB Inl National.

INFC Race Programme 2021

The 2020 proposed race programme will also remain with revised 2021 dates. This will once again be subject to any restrictions in place. Skibbereen Old Bird Tuesday 25th May, Sennen Cove Yearling Nat Wednesday 9th June, St Allouestre Kings Cup Friday 2nd July, Plougastel-Daoulas or Lamballe Friendship Nat Friday 9th July, Penzance YB Grand Nat Wednesday 1st September, Skibbereen Young Bird Saturday 18th September. The management committee plan a review of the situation in mid/end of March when hopefully they will be in a position, to make informed decisions on the way forward for the 2021 season.