Mike Murphy visits north Dublin to learn more about the sport of pigeon racing, where the birds are trained to return home after being released from a specific point.
Frank Andrews from Balbriggan explains that climatic conditions play a big part in whether racing pigeons return home. When pigeons fly across the Irish Sea, a north east wind may cause them difficulties. This can potentially eliminate 80% of pigeons taking part in a race. On a clear day pigeons can see land, but when they can not
The ones with a faint heart turn back to England.
It is hard to pin-point why some pigeons have such a great homing ability and succeed, where others fail. One exceptional pigeon flew 1100 miles from Barcelona returning to Ireland in 14 days. This particular pigeon,
Had that fantastic stamina and terrible love of home and just wouldn't give in.
Frank Andrews explains the ringing method, the official means of establishing the winner of a pigeon race.
Pigeon fancier Joe Doheny from Malahide elaborates on what happens during a pigeon race. The pigeons all start from a specific point, where they are released at the same time. When his pigeons are liberated, Joe waits at home for their return. How long this takes will depend on the weather conditions.
One of Joe’s pigeons has won £480 and flew from France in just over nine hours. Joe is adamant this pigeon is not for sale although a prize racing pigeon can sell for up to £3,500.
From ‘Sport in Action’ broadcast on 20 January 1972. The reporter is Mike Murphy