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Bolt and my Belgian Blue

Pigeon Racing is being transformed by big money, surging interest from Asia and a bloodstock industry in Belgium. But where does the sport in Ireland feature in this world? We race with Dubliner John O'Brien towards the release of his pigeons. (2016)

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Documentary Maker: Robert Mulhern

More Information

Bolt and my Belgian Blue

In 2016, Dubliner John O’Brien emailed saying we should make a documentary about pigeon racing? We agreed. But we didn’t expect to find a world of Chinese businessmen, million dollar races and a champion pigeon named Bolt, racing the sport’s grassroots in Dublin.

In ‘Bolt and my Belgian Blue’ we follow John, a fast talking pigeon fancier, and a host of colourful Irish characters as they compete over the summer season. 

We open the door on lofts in Clondalkin, discover new dimensions in Moore Street and follow the sport to Belgium, where student-like brokers do deals with Asian millionaires. 

With perceptions shifting dramatically we race with John towards the release of his, and 9000 other pigeons on a pivotal morning at Pilmore Beach in Cork. 

Where will his birds come? What conclusions lie in wait? 

And has the race for the soul of pigeon racing already been run?

Produced and narrated by 

Robert Mulhern

Sound Supervision

Mark McGrath

Additional Reporting

Elliot Rambach


John O’Brien, Salim Khan, Eugene Fitzgerald, Ian Somers, Mick Warner, Johnny Organ

Brendan Dunne, JJ, Donna and Robyn O’Brien


Ludovico Einaudi 


-Lady Labyrinth



The Cinematic Orchestra - Arrival of the Birds & Transformation

First Broadcast Saturday 17th September at 2pm

Repeated Sunday 18th September at 7pm

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.

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