1963 - "Bann King" wins Kings Cup

A look back at the 1950's & 60's through the Archives
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willie reynolds
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 4:44 pm

1963 - "Bann King" wins Kings Cup

Post by willie reynolds »

First published in the RP Sat 3rd August 1963, penned by JL on Front Page. Cover Charge 6d

National win then honeymoon!

The Blue Riband of pigeon racing in Ireland – the coveted Kings Cup – has been won by a bird owned and bred by 25 year old Anthony McDonnell, Castlerock Road, Coleraine. Anthony was married a day or two after the race and was away when I called his home. I waited until the last possible moment, Saturday morning, and having discovered that he was still not home I decided to proceed to Coleraine in the hope of obtaining some details. Unfortunately no records, ring numbers etc, were available, but with the assistance of his mother, Mrs McDonnell, I set about compiling these notes.

Les Sables to Coleraine, a distance of 634 miles, was flown by “Bann King” NU59CPS-108, velocity 821.8, owned and bred by Anthony McDonnell. Never before has the Kings Cup been won by a fancier flying from far North.
No doubt this will be one of Anthony’s most treasured wedding presents. Anthony’s livelihood is in keeping with the occupations carried out in The District. Farming takes advantage of the Bann River Valley which passes through this area. He has a Poultry Farm with many thousands of fowl.

“Bann King’s” only other success was in a young bird race, but this time he has won between £200 and £300. He also clocked a second bird to take 78th Open.


Herbert Martin the Chairman of Coleraine Premier is overwhelmed at Anthony’s success, especially as it has never been won by a fancier on their side of Muckamore before. Anthony, who is Treasurer of the Society and a former Secretary, can trace his interest in pigeons as far as 20 years ago. At five years old he was presented with two pigeons by Herbert Martin. These two birds were of Barker and Grooters strains, I am told these two birds were the foundation of the loft, and having faith in his own birds he depended on the basket to sort things out.

Today he keeps about 30 old birds and 20 young ones. Anthony is having a new house built down on the farm (The Bann Hatcheries) where a young bird loft is already erected.

“Bann King” is a Blue Cheq cock of medium to large size, powerful in strength to hold and yet of beautiful quality feather. He is moulting well and has about five primaries to go, not long in the neck and carries a good attractive head. Yellow eye-sign full circle, with dark orange shading, very typical of the 1963 long-distance winners, into Northern Ireland. At this stage I might add that it is probably just as well that there were no racing records to hand as they would probably take up half of this week’s issue.

Anthony, who races in one club only, in 1962 had 48 prizes and has won the St Malo Cup 1961 and 1962. Had it been flown this year he would probably have won it outright. In 1963 he won Channel Averages and in the prize money every race. He finished up by sending 12 birds to Penzance winning 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th with 11 birds out of 12 in the clock.

Before I finish I would like to thank both Mrs A McDonnell and Herbert Martin for their help. Mrs McDonnell received me very well and is herself fond of pigeons. She can handle them as well as any pigeon fancier and was a great help to me in the loft when sorting out “Bann King”.
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