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The Smyth Strain Of Ireland...
Author: Liam O ComainTitle: The Smyth Strain Of Ireland
Date: 2005-03-09 16:10:05Uploaded by: webmaster
This is one of the greatest strains of the last and present century. In confirmation this family of racing pigeons for more than half a century has faced and conquered what is perhaps one of the toughest if not the toughest route in the world of pigeon racing. Now aside from the geographical reality of the route what I do assert is that this is an authentic long distance and marathon strain in its own right! And that for far too long the pigeon racing fraternity has failed to recognize or acknowledge this truth.

It origins obviously lie in another strain but the two Smyth brothers from Ballymena forged perhaps the first long distance and marathon strain of Ireland. A partnership whose results at the distance were achieved by sending only a few birds to the races. But there is no doubt based upon their results and the results of their strain in the lofts of others that these two Irish fanciers were masters at their craft!

The brothers when caught by the bug of pigeon racing early in their pigeon racing lives decided to buy the best and race the best. It was then that apparently they read the comments of Major Osman of the Racing Pigeon weekly that one of the best strains was the Kenyon strain. So they decided to stock their loft with the best of the latter.

From 1943 onwards some good pigeons where bought from the Kenyon lofts and through the astute management of the brothers the result was some of the best racing performances seen in Europe. But alas the remoteness of Ireland was a factor which contributed towards the strain not being given its due.

For the Smyth's, the best started in 1948 when they were 11th from Rennes, France, at a distance of 510 miles. Being named, Rennes Queen, she was one of only 12 birds in race time. This hen also took 18th Open from the same race point in 1949 beaten by her daughter, Northern Leader. The latter was 7th Open in a race where only twenty-five pigeons were timed. This was out of thousands sent but aside from the crossing of two seas the maritime climate was always an obstacle for Irish pigeons to overcome.

In 1951 the partners scored 23rd Open in the National from Rennes, a very hard race with the winning velocity around 800 yards per minute. To be followed in 1953 with 33rd Open NIPA Derby from Landerneau, France, and 62nd and 75th Open National Redon, France. The latter a distance of 532 miles. The following year 1954 saw the strain winning three positions in a tough National from Redon with only 28 birds home in race time. The positions were 20th, 21st and 24th Open.

The brothers scored again in 1955 from Redon, the velocities were down around 700 yards per minute, when the pigeon who was 21st in 1954 won 4th Open National. This was the famous Leading Lady who went on the following year to win 6th Open from Redon at a speed of 579 yards per minute. Then perhaps the greatest racing pigeon ever in 1957 scored 9th Open from Redon. Another tough race but Leading Lady was only three positions behind her cousin who scored 6th Open. The latter being National Effort who went back in 1958 to Redon and finished 36th Open. Also in this race a grand daughter of Leading Lady was 38th Open National.

Since the exploits of Leading Lady the fabulous Smyth Strain has won 27th Open from Les Sables, France (610 miles) in 1960; 21st Open from Les Sables in 1961; 42st Open Dinard, France, in 1965; 49th Open from Nantes, France (570 miles) in 1966; 8th Open Old Bird Derby from Dinard in 1967; 22nd Open National Nantes in 1968; 63rd Open National Nantes and 31st Open OB Derby Dinard in 1969; 2nd and 6th Open Beauvais, France, 517 miles in 1970; 24th and 45th Open National Nantes in 1971; 2nd Open Nantes National by another hen named Northern Lady in 1973; 17th Open OB Derby Dinard in 1976; 135th Open National Rennes in 1977; 24th Open National Rennes in 1978; 48th and 101st Open National Rennes in 1979; 26th,125th,and 127th Open Les Sables in 1980; 40th and 58th Open National Les Sables in 1981; 66th Open OB Derby, Dinard in 1982.

Then the National racing received a set back arising from France's ban on racing pigeons in 1983 but the alternative races (although shorter in distance) from various parts of the island of Britain saw the Smyth strain continue to win many prizes. It must be said that over the time of the above old bird results the Ballymena lofts scored time and time again in the Young Bird Nationals into Ireland. In fact they have a terrific record in this area of pigeon racing.

In 1988, the racing of Nationals returned to France again and the brothers were 64th and 145th Open from Rennes. The following year saw them 41st Open from Rennes and 45th Open in the NIPA Derby from Dinard. This was followed in the next year by 66th and 192nd Open from Rennes as well as 1st and 2nd in the Friendship National from Sartilly. In 1992 the lofts scored 7th and 14th Open from Rennes followed in 1993 with 12th Open in the OB Derby from Dinard. 1994 saw 133rd and 194th from the Rennes National and 58th Open in the Derby from Dinard. Since then the lofts have scored in 1997 from St. Nazaire in France (554 miles) with 97th Open. Scoring again the following year with 10th position in the Friendship National from Dinard. And at the time of writing the Smyth Brothers lofts are still scoring.

It should be noted that the Smyth strain of racing pigeons have provided National winners for other Irish fanciers and others from abroad including providing the sire for Ted Vowles, Gwendolene Supreme, who won 1st Section, 1st Open from Palamos into Britain at a distance of 700 miles. Of course there is much more that I could add to back my contention that this is one of the best strains of long distance and marathon pigeons that the sport has ever experienced. A strain that has produced many champions including perhaps the greatest distance racer so far in the history of the sport.

Liam O Comain

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