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The Rankin Strain of Scotland...
Author: Liam O ComainTitle: The Rankin Strain of Scotland
Date: 2005-12-29 21:30:30Uploaded by: webmaster
Based upon domicile I refer to this strain as being Scottish although the founders are from Ireland. As one who is proud of my nationality it gives me great pleasure to pay this tribute to George and Gareth Rankin of Glasgow. In fact George was born in Bangor, Co Down, in the north of the Emerald Isle. Of a farming background he had pigeons from am early age which included Tipplers and Tumblers, but at the age of eleven he had his first racing pigeons and soon joined the Donaghadee RPC in 1953.

By 1954 he had won his first Old Bird Average Trophy in his club with a dozen or less yearlings. His triumph included winning the Penzance race (310 miles), with his bird on the wing for about 14 hours.

This was the beginning of an illustrious career in the sport, especially at the distance.

His successes included winning the prestigious and coveted Miller Gold Cup from Landerneau, France, (427 miles) into a northeast wind, being the only bird on the day and one of only 17 in the race time of three days. This win also yielded six other trophies plus a Gold Medal. Other Irish victories included in 1968 7th Open Penzance Young Bird National followed in 1969 with 11th Open Old Bird Irish National from Nantes (550 miles). Another tough race with only 99 birds in three days.

Then in 1972 George left Ireland for Scotland, with his family, and there began another phase in his pigeon racing career.

In due course the Rankins began to win dozens upon dozens of Scottish National Flying Club Racing Certificates plus thousands of pounds. In fact as an example of their phenomenal successes, from 1989 (including '90, '91, '95, and '96) from Niort in France the loft was the only one in the Scottish nation to be in the first 25 Open positions. And that at a distance of 673 miles. Scoring 4th Open, 17th Open, 24th Open, and 25th Open. In 1996 alone this outstanding family won 20 trophies as well as being 24th Open Niort and 13th Open Sartilly in consecutive weeks. Fantastic flying!

It would appear according to sources that George Rankin was heavily influenced by the late Leslie Sloan of the Sloan and Whyte partnership, a great Irish racing combination at the distance. In fact when Leslie Sloan died George Rankin sold the pigeons on behalf of Leslie's wife. The Sloan influence would have ensured the need for proper base stock if one wanted to tackle the endurance tasks of distance racing. That is why the partnership obtained the best from such as Andrew Deans and Joe Murphy, two of Scotland's best flyers.

To conclude, at the time of writing the two Irish exiles are still winning at the ultra distances and what was Ireland's loss was Scotland's gain. However as the two peoples have always been close to each other both physically and culturally both can lay claim to the Rankin strain of long distance and marathon racing pigeons. There comes no better!

Liam O Comain

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