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BEAK HOME IN DERRY Belfast boatman helps saves 'lost' pigeon 'Declan' from remote Scottish island

Skipper Kevin Lagan and his friends were on a trip to the Hebrides when they heard of the bird’s plight

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Kevin Lagan and the crew of the Lady Kate prepare to bring Declan  home

Kevin Lagan and the crew of the Lady Kate prepare to bring Declan home

Kevin Lagan and the crew of the Lady Kate prepare to bring Declan home

A big-hearted boat owner from Belfast helped rescue an Irish racing pigeon lost on a remote Scottish island, the Sunday World has learned.

Skipper Kevin Lagan and his friends were on a trip to the Hebrides when they heard of the bird’s plight.

By chance they had anchored off a St Kilda, where construction workers told them the sad story of Declan – a pigeon from Derry who had been posted missing during a tough race.

The blue chequered cock had got his feathers in a fluster after he was attacked by a falcon.

Declan had been in full flight back to the Maiden City from Skibbereen in Cork when he was targeted by the bird of prey.

Despite sustaining serious injuries to one of his wings, determined Declan managed to fend off the midair attack – by doing an amazing 433-mile detour out over the Atlantic!

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Conor McKinney with Declan on Hirta

Conor McKinney with Declan on Hirta

Conor McKinney with Declan on Hirta

 

The worn-out bird eventually landed on Hirta – the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago – 100 miles from the Scottish mainland.

And as luck would have it the bird was found by Derry man Conor McKinney – who in turn pleaded with visiting boat owner Kevin Lagan to bring him back home to Ireland!

“Within two hours of Kevin and his friends bringing Declan back to Ballycastle, the bird was back recuperating in his own loft in Creggan,” said Jim Ramsey, a well-known racing pigeon fancier from Derry and a brother of former SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey.

He added: “We are all absolutely delighted.”

Bio-security expert Conor McKinney is also from outside Derry. He is currently working in construction on St Kilda and he spotted the injured bird shortly after it landed on the island.

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Declan’s wing was injured in his ordeal

Declan’s wing was injured in his ordeal

Declan’s wing was injured in his ordeal

 

“I noticed it had a ring on its leg. I managed to catch it and saw it had a phone number,” he said.

“And I couldn’t believe it when the pigeon’s owner told me he was also from Derry!

“We saw the bird had a nasty wound on his wing and we did our best to make him comfortable. We gave him water and yogurt to help build him up.

“And because he was from Derry, we agreed to call him Declan!” he added.

Conor said he couldn’t believe his luck when Kevin Lagan and his friends then arrived on the island after sailing all the way from Ballycastle.

“Once Kevin and his friends heard Declan’s story, they agreed to return the pigeon to his owner in Ireland,” he said.

Businessman and boat owner Kevin Lagan said: “We were just happy to be able to offer Declan a lift back to Ireland.

“And we’re glad to hear he’s doing well back in Derry,” he added.

hjordan.media@btinternet.com

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