Belfast Telegraph

Birdman from Ballykelly

The 74-year-old 'birdman from Ballykelly' has revealed how an early fondness for the humble farmyard chicken has flourished into a prize-winning passion and a much more exotic aviaristic appreciation.

John Hegarty has amassed a wealth of trophies for his speciality, pure-bred redpolls during a career which began many years ago when a chance raffle ticket purchased by his father resulted in a bird as first prize.

Competing in shows these days all over the country, John told the Derry Journal: "It's very competitive. Everybody is your friend until you go to the show. People are very nice but every man is in to win."

Despite its waining popularity, John is sure of bird showing's continued longevity. "We had birds at the end of the War when you couldn't even find a loaf of bread so it will always be there. I'll always have birds for as long as I'm in an upright position."

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