Sarah’s the wind beneath Gerry’s wings

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The wind beneath his wings: Proud son Gerry Bennett with the late Sarah.

A DETERMINED little Limerick bird by the name of ‘Mike’ took wing on June 4 at Maypole in Scotland and flew 246 miles home in a record time of 4 hours and 33 seconds. That’s 18 yards per minute, the highest velocity ever recorded between Scotland and Limerick.

The amazing achievement was poignant. It happened on the third anniversary of the death of Sarah Bennett, mother to Mike’s owner Gerry, and a woman who raced and looked after her own birds until the grand age of 88.

“She was out there every day. She loved the birds and she had wins with her own bird,” Gerry Bennett told the Limerick Post.

“Mam used to do the mornings with them while I was at work, letting them out to fly. And she did the ‘indoor’ times when they came back.

“She did the feeding, cleaning, training and she would record which bird came home first. She loved collecting the trophies.”

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Sarah encouraged a young Gerry in the sport.

“I bought my first pigeon with my Communion money in 1975,” he said. “My brother was involved before me and that got me interested. When my brother finished with it (keeping pigeons), Mam stepped in and took over.”

Sarah had her own bird shed, built by Gerry, at the family home in Garryglass in Ballinacurra Weston. As well as taking care of her own flock, she looked after her son’s 50 birds.

“Her pigeon was first in the race from Penzance in 2018. Mam was never in hospital a day in her life. Every day she was working with the birds. She was never sick until she died suddenly,” said Gerry.

The bird which brought home glory on Sarah’s anniversary is just over a year old and hails from winning stock. His grandfather also took home prizes.

Asked if he thinks Sarah was the wind beneath those victorious wings, Gerry says “I certainly wonder.”