INFC Old Bird Nationals update

Ivan Parkes and Son Stephen Armagh 1st North section 1st Open INFC Skibbereen
Ivan Parkes and Son Stephen Armagh 1st North section 1st Open INFC Skibbereen

The first of the six races organized by the Irish National Flying Club was held on Tuesday, 24th May from Skibbereen in Co Cork. 471 members sent 4,498 birds to compete for £15,758 in pools and prize money.

This was slightly down on last year’s entry of 4,712 birds; however the pools and prizemoney had slightly increased. The race was sponsored by Bamfords Top Flight and we are very grateful to them for their continued sponsorship. The race took the same format as last year with the Ronnie Johnston Challenge Cup and diploma awarded to the Overall winner and the Gerald Delaney Trophy awarded to the best velocity of the other two sections. The winner of the section with the lowest winning velocity will receive a coveted INFC diploma. There are no Open positions for the Skibbereen Nationals but prizes are allocated to the three sections.

Mick Conlon Banbridge, 1st North Section, 4th Open INFC Yearling National

Mick Conlon Banbridge, 1st North Section, 4th Open INFC Yearling National

The birds were liberated at 10.30am in a light easterly wind, with the winning velocity recorded as 1346. This is the same velocity recorded by the winner of the North Section last year too.

1st North Section, 1st Open, I Parkes & Son Armagh, Vel 1346, Flying 218 miles, winning £863 and the Ronnie Johnstone Challenge Cup

The winners of this year’s Skibbereen Old Bird National are Ivan & Stephen Parkes from Armagh. The father and son partnership have been having a wonderful season so far but this is really the fulfillment of one of their dreams to win a National. The pigeon timed is a three-year-old Soontjens cock racing on the widowhood system. The breeding of this cock is something special. The dam was bred by Jeff Greenaway, Dromore and is a direct daughter of ‘Back to Back’, while the sire bred by Colin Gibson Dromara, is a direct daughter of ‘Jethro’ and ‘Miss Henny’. This cock has always been a very consistent racer winning many club prizes and some section prizes in the NIPA. Ten days before this National he was 3rd club, 10th section and 110th Open NIPA from Rosscarbery. The National winner had all inland races this year with the NIPA and has never been across the water (and won’t be now!!). Ivan and Stephen gave the birds three training tosses before the first race and since then the birds have just been flown around the house twice a day, weather permitting. Ivan has a bit more time on his hands these days and has obviously put that time to good use. Ivan would like to thank all those who phoned, text or called to congratulate him as he found it a very humbling experience.


The Irish National Flying Club’s Yearling National was held on Wednesday 8th June this year. Once again there was a good entry for this very popular race in the racing calendar. In the end however the overall entry was down from last year with 823 members sending 4325 pigeons to compete for £33,086 compared to last year when 852 members sending 5188 birds to compete for £35,530 in pools and prizes. This was much the same as the 2014 entry which saw 5243 birds entered.

The birds were liberated in Sennen Cove at 9am in a light north westerly wind. There was early morning fog along the Irish Coast but all forecasts gave this to clear as the day progressed. Unfortunately for many coastal areas the fog remained throughout the day. In spite of this the positions were easily filled on the day with many more birds recorded on the second day. The winners were Barry Smyth & Son from Rathnew, with Mick Conlon & Sons from Banbridge taking 1st North section and 4th Open. The race this year was sponsored by H Beattie & Son and we are very grateful to them for their continued sponsorship.

1st South section, 1st Open Barry Smyth & Son Rathnew, Vel 1294, flying 201 miles, winning £788 and the Nelson Corry Trophy

The winner of the Yearling National sponsored by H Beattie & Son this year is Rathnew’s Barry Smyth & Son Jake from an entry of just three birds. This is only Barry and Jake’s second year racing and this their first time competing in the Yearling National. Barry’s brother Tommy has raced pigeons for years in Wicklow and while Barry always had an interest in pigeons it was only when Jake found a young stray two years ago that Barry’s interest was re-ignited and they talked about getting some pigeons.

2nd South section, 2nd Open McCann & Whelan Bray, Vel 1272, flying 215 miles, winning £2884

2nd Open goes to McCann & Whelan from South End Bray club in Co Wicklow. The partnership is Brendan McCann and Conor Whelan. Brendan was actually 7th Open in this race in 2009 when racing on his own. Young Conor has been racing with Brendan for three years but the partnership was only officially formed this year with the name change. The pigeon timed here is a grizzle hen now named ‘Snowdrops’ which was raced on the roundabout system.

3rd South section, 3rd Open R Callan Castlebellingham, Vel 1265, flying 273 miles, winning £1856

3rd South section 3rd Open goes to the lofts of Dickie Callan, Castlebellingham. Dickie is also a member of Dundalk North End and Dundalk Invitation clubs but pays his INFC membership through Castlebellingham. The pigeon timed here is a blue white tipped hen now named ‘Zachary’s Girl’ after Dickie’s grandson. Breeding is Vandenabeele on the dam’s side from M & D Evans. Dickie missed ringing the dam so she was put into the stock loft. The Sire is from double National Champions, N Black & Sons Dromara and is from their top class team of distance birds. ‘Zachary’s Girl’ was unraced as a young bird but trained with Ron Williamson three times per week. This year she only had two races before the National, from Fermoy and 1st Talbenny. She was raced on the roundabout at the beginning of the year then paired up and she was down on eggs when she lost her mate, but was re-paired and sent to the National sitting tight on all 4 eggs. Dickie had planned to Nom one of the cocks but when he went to check on his team for the National on the night before marking this hen nipped him as he went to take her off the nest and held on tightly. He knew then that she was keen so put her in the Nom and she duly obliged by winning £1856.

1st North section, 4th Open M Conlon & Sons Banbridge, Vel 1258, flying 296 miles, winning £613 and the James McGrugan Memorial Cup for winner of the section not winning the Open.

1st North section, 4th Open goes to former Friendship National winners Mick Conlon & Sons from Banbridge. In contrast to the race winners Mick started racing in 1956 with the 1985 King’s Cup winner Jackie Crossan. The partnership broke up as both got married and moved to separate locations away from Banbridge. Mick went on to win a Gold Medal in 1993 for 4 times in the King’s Cup result, having been 26th Open in 1990, 14th Open in 14th in 1991, 89th Open in 1992 and 69th Open in 1993.

2nd North section, 5th Open P Murray Killyleagh & District, Vel 1209, flying 298 miles, winning £1084

We go to the Killyleagh & District club in Co Down for 2nd North section, 5th Open to the lofts of Paddy Murray. Paddy had a great race here with three birds clocked before 5.45pm on the day, taking 5th, 59th, 150th Open. As a result Paddy was the winner of the Sam Buckley Memorial Trophy for the best two bird average. The pigeon timed here is a blue hen sent sitting ten days on eggs. This hen was 1st Section F with the NIPA from Fermoy as a young bird on a velocity of 1204. Her velocity here was 1209 so these races with velocities in the low 1200’s obviously suit her. 4th South section 6th Open L Donnelly & Son Finglas, Vel 1203, flying 229 miles, winning £678

We go back South to former winners of this race Liam Donnelly & Son Owen from the Finglas club who were winners of this race in 2009 when they also picked up the Samuel Buckley Memorial Cup having had their second pigeon at 28th Open . The pigeon timed here is a cheq hen raced on roundabout and has been a consistent racer. She flew the whole programme as a youngster and this year she was specially trained for this race.

5th South section, 7th Open J Doheny Malahide & District, vel 1201, flying 229 miles, winning £172

7th Open goes to Joe Doheny Malahide & District. This loft needs no introduction as Joe has a host of National wins behind him including National Champions in 1981 and 1987, King’s Cup winner in 1982 and 2002, Friendship National winner in 2011.

3rd North section, 8th Open McComb Bros Killyleagh Central, vel 1192, flying 298 miles, winning £276

8th Open goes to McComb Bros Killyleagh Central club who were 1st North section in the Skibbereen Old Bird National result last year. The partnership consists of brothers Bobby and Joe and their nephew Paddy. They have had a good season so far and among their leading positions were 1st, 3rd and 8th Open East Down Combine from Thurles and 11th Open East Down Combine from Skibbereen Classic. The pigeon timed here is a black cock that was on roundabout but paired with this race in mind and was sent sitting 10 days on eggs.

6th South section, 9th Open E E & S Kavanagh Arklow Utd, vel 1186.65, flying 190 miles, winning £132

9th Open are E, E & S Kavanagh from the Arklow Utd club. This partnership consists of Edward Kavanagh and his son Edward and daughter Siobhan. Edward Junior started with the pigeons about ten years ago but like a lot of other young people has emigrated to Australia. The pigeon timed here is a cheq cock racing roundabout.

4th North section, 10th Open John Trotter Laurelvale, vel 1186.57, flying 299 miles, winning £657 and the Charles Ingle Memorial Trophy for 10th Open Yearling National

10th Open goes to John Trotter of Laurelvale in Co Armagh. John’s pigeon a blue hen was sent to this race sitting on chipping eggs after having been on the roundabout for the early part of the season. This hen raced well last year and was first bird to the loft three times including the young bird Talbenny. Her nestmate was first to the loft five weeks in a row this year. The hen herself had Rosscarbery and two other inland races this year, including Fermoy from which she won the Gilford Show prize. The dam is from G & A Tomlinson Derbyshire and is down from ‘Lammy’s Gem’, winner of Gold Medal from Falaise as a yearling in a very hard race and also Messac (370 miles)again in a north east wind. The sire is from John’s own family of J P Gevaert Van Schorisse. The granddam was a terrific stock pigeon having bred at least 30 winners, while her nestmate was a terrific racer having been 1st Open NIPA from Kilkenny in 2004 with 33,000 birds competing having been 3rd Open the previous week with similar numbers racing.