Category: Archive

Around Ireland Feathered hero

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

Some birds just chirp. But Paddy the Pigeon was a serious communicator.

And now pigeon fanciers have called on the Irish government to ensure the only bravery medal ever given to an Irish animal — Paddy — should not leave the country when it goes on auction.

The Examiner newspaper reports that Paddy was awarded the British Dickin medal — the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross for human gallantry — after the World War II Normandy landings.

"This award is quite unique in Ireland. The government should make sure that some institution like National Museum should buy it to make sure it stays in the country," said Tommy Kelly, chairman of the East Coast Federation of pigeon clubs.

"With modern communications, pigeons are unlikely to ever be in a situation again where they could get a medal like this for bravery," Kelly told the paper.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

In 1943 Paddy, who had been bred in Carnlough, Co. Antrim, was volunteered for service by his owner. After serving with the Royal Air Force in Northern Ireland, Paddy was transferred to England and trained for the D-Day landings.

Hundreds of pigeons were released to avoid using radio communications, which could be intercepted by the Germans.

Paddy was judged a hero for the best recorded time delivering the first message from the Normandy Beaches from a ship off the beachhead. He got back in four hours and 50 minutes.

To date only 10 Dickin medals have appeared at auction. An auctioneer official said a collector was selling the medal for about £7,000. The medal, named after Maria Dickin, who ran an animal care charity, was awarded on 53 occasions between 1943 and 1949 — to 31 pigeons, 18 dogs, three horses and one cat.

Hong Kong-born Simon the Cat got his medal in 1949 for disposing of rats even though wounded by shellfire. The cat served aboard HMS Amethyst when it made its pass down the Yangtze in the relief of Nanking.

Kerry nightmare

Kerry is better know for its nickname The Kingdom than for any rampant anti-British sentiment.

But for four Welsh tourists visiting the area, threatening racist messages proved too much to handle.

The Kerryman newspaper reports that the tourists, who were in Valentia for a fishing trip, cut their holiday short and fled after finding an abusive message scrawled under their names in the hotel register. "F**k off home, British bastards," had been written beside their signatures.

"They immediately left the hotel and returned to Wales because they feared for their safety," a local priest told the paper. "They were absolutely devastated that this happened."

Owner of The Royal Hotel in Valentia, Tessie O’Sullivan, said she was very upset about what happened. She was surprised that the Welsh tourists had checked out of the hotel two days early because of the incident.

"People of all nationalities are very welcome in this hotel," she said. "We’ve never had any problem like this before. It was a very busy night in the hotel, so anyone could have come in and written that message on the register. I rubbed it out straight away when I saw it," she said.

Oyster madness

It was Galway home game. But an Englishman has become the world champion.

Sam Tamsanguan, from London, is now the world’s fastest oyster opener.

The Examiner reports that the English restarant worker won the title in Galway on Saturday at the annual Galway Oyster Festival.

Tamsanguan managed to crack open 30 oysters in 2.55 minutes while 2,500 people packed into the festival tent to watch the competition. Micheál Kelly from Galway came second.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese