TWEETING IS not a new craze for bird fancier Paddy Murphy as the well-known New Ross man has enjoyed the chirping and twittering of his fantastic selection of rare birds for almost sixty years.
‘Mickey, Molly, Susie…they all know their names,’ said Paddy as he shows off his fabulously colourful selection of parrots and parakeets at his aviary in the Bosheen.
For the past 56 years Paddy has been keeping birds ranging from racing pigeons to canaries and now parrots.
His love for birds developed back in 1955 when Paddy started racing pigeons. His grandfather Paddy Nolan, who reared Paddy, was ‘ always mad’ about birds and as a young boy Paddy often looked on at his grandfather feeding his birds and so his love for these feathered friends grew.
‘It rubbed off on me,’ said Paddy, who started the Pigeon Club in New Ross in 1955 and held the role of the club’s secretary and went on to become President of the Tower Pigeon Club in Waterford.
Paddy enjoyed much success with his pigeons and won a longest race title with a 450 mile win by one of his pigeons. He was the first man in New Ross to win the Loch Garman Cup with Gloster Canaries. Out of 800 entrants he was presented with his coveted award by the then Tánaiste Brendan Corish in Dublin’s Mansion House and what was more memorable for Paddy is that he enjoyed the prestige of featuring on the 6 p.m. news that evening.
‘Keeping these birds is a great pastime and hobby. It always puts me in good humour and I love going to the shows and mixing with Tom, Dick or Harry – it’s a great day out,’ he said.
At eighty years of age, Paddy admits that parrots are ‘much handier’ to keep than pigeons.
‘The pigeons used to kill me but the parrots are great,’ said Paddy, who finished keeping pigeons three years ago.
‘I’m getting old and was not able for the pigeons,’ he added. ‘But the day is too long when you haven’t anything to do when you get older…keeping these birds keeps the brain going’.
Having bought his first parrot five years ago Paddy now enjoys breeding various parrots at his specially made aviaries at the back of his home in the Bosheen.
‘These parrots are like crows in their native land they are so common,’ said Paddy, whose birds are originally from South and East Africa and are brought to Belgium before arriving in Monaghan, where Paddy buys them.
As part of the breeding process, Paddy pays meticulous attention to detail and is slow to divulge some of his best kept and most importantly his successful breeding secrets.
According to Paddy it takes between 19 and 21 days for the birds to hatch, however as he explains if there was a day without sun or a very cold day, it can take an extra day for them to hatch. Paddy jots down such detail into a diary he keeps on his birds in order for him to gain a more accurate time frame as to when his beloved birds will hatch. Four to seven days after they lay Paddy will then check the eggs for baby parrots.
‘When they are born they are grey and then they develop their colour. One day at a time their pin feathers (developing feathers on a bird) come and by 21 days they are feathered and coloured all different colours,’ he explained.
Proudly looking around his aviary, Paddy admits he has never seen such beautifully coloured parrots before.
‘I love cross breeding the parrots and seeing the different colours develop in their feathers,’ he said.
Like Paddy, his love for these feathered creatures has also rubbed off on his son Pascal who also keeps a fine selection of African Grey parrots at his home in Hewittsland.
Inside his kitchen his observant parrot Tyson takes everything in and according to Pascal is liable to say ‘anything’.
‘He takes it all in – that fella has brains to behold,’ said Pascal, who pointed out that his parrot can even talk on the mobile phone to his daughter. ‘You wouldn’t believe what he can do unless you see it’.
‘They have some brains to remember everything – what you are saying now he will be muttering about in two days time,’ added Paddy, who talks to his birds every day.
‘They don’t forget what you say and they love when I put on the radio and put on a musical programme for them to listen to. They pick up the sounds of the programme and will be chirping the tunes they pick up,’ he explained.
For Paddy keeping birds has to be a passion that people truly enjoy as it requires much time and devotion. It is this love for his birds that reaps such rewards for Paddy, who delights in their company, seeing how each new breed develops and how radiant their feathers shine.
‘If you don’t devote time to birds you cannot have birds,’ said Paddy, who spends one hour each morning and another hour in the evening looking after his birds.
‘Experience with birds doesn’t come in one week or one fortnight you have to find it out your own way,’ added Paddy.
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