The Kirkpatrick's by Liam O Comain
The famous strain of the late Johnny Kirkpatrick was a sure bet to appear in this series for not to refer to this great family from Scotland would be to commit a sacrilege. As a young boy our subject from West Cumberland was brought to and reared up in Annan by his parents where he was to be blooded early in the sport. Although strongly committed to the game of soccer our subject had pigeons early in his life via a gift of birds from a Wilf Pearson. However the real initial base of the budding strain were Logan, Barker, Osman and some bloodlines from a Dr. White.
Success came early to this family for it registered in the Scottish N.F.C Nationals from Rennes and Nantes two 3rds, a 4th, two 5ths, a 7th and a 11th amongst other positions. The first big win was 1st Open S.N.F.C. Rennes in 1937. By this time it appears that the Kirkpatrick's included the bloodlines of Sion, Marriot and Bricoux. The family records also contained traces of the Gits and the Barker amongst others. The Bricoux bloodlines came via a pair purchased from a Mr. Richardson i.e. a Mealy Cock and a Red Cheq Hen. In due course the pair produced the immortal 'Galabank Supreme' who won 13 firsts and approximately 40 other good positions in racing. He was also a fabulous stock bird. In truth this was the real Kirkpatrick foundation bird for all subsequent champions of the strain contained his blood.
During the 2nd World War (1939/1945) there were no races from the European mainland into the island of Britain but by about 1948 Kirkpatrick had scored 2nd Open S.N.F.C. Guernsey and by 1951 2nd Open S.N.F.C. Rennes. The latter success gained by 'Galabank King'. Another of the clan namely 'Galabank Prince' was 1st Open S.N.F.C. Nantes in 1952 as well as being 40th Open Rennes that same season. The lofts also were 2nd Open with 'Galabank Duke' in the same race. The honours continued to arrive in 1953 with 3rd Open Rennes with 'Johnny' - the nest mate of 'Galabank Duke'. Here I have only referred to national wins but the lofts won numerous club and other prizes during its reign in the land of the thistle.
Alas our mortality via sickness saw the departure of Johnny Kirkpatrick in the spring of 1954. Then pigeondom mourned one of its greatest distance racers and a master of the sport. A strain destined to be forever mentioned amongst the greatest. Which is reckoned to have produced 500 important race winners worldwide. In fact it is estimated that the strain flows in the blood of the majority of Scottish 500 mile winners alone. An interesting factor of the Kirkpatrick's is the Grizzle colouring which abounds and although the records show the important contribution of a Grizzle hen '6498' from A.R.Hill of St. Just, in Cornwall, the historians note that this colour was a factor in the strain of Dr. Bricoux. Finally, it is great to win when one is alive but Johnny Kirkpatrick won a few months after his death for his wife raced that year and was 3rd Open Rennes. A loving gesture!