The Men:

Brian has never joined a political or paramilitary organisation

His parents were strict in their house rule that no member of the family was to join one.

As a teenager, Brian developed an interest in pigeons, which set in motion a life long hobby. He believes his interest kept him off the streets and out of trouble as a young man and offered an escape route from what was going on around him. He still shows pigeons competitively and keeps a flock.


"Inside the centre was a low lit bar full of ‘pigeon men’ "

However, Brian has not been able to avoid the legacy of the past and The Troubles. His life, like many others, was still impacted by The Troubles.  He talks honestly and openly about the kingmakers that still exist in Northern Ireland today.


We first met Brian through his wife Ellen. Ellen’s son, Mark Kincaide is in prison for a murder that he has always denied committing. We were initially talking to Mark and we went to meet him in prison one afternoon. Whilst developing a relationship with Mark we got to know Brian. Ellen and him often looked after Mark’s daughter Summer and we would pop round for cups of tea and to say hello. Whilst there we began to learn more and more about Brian’s pigeons and one day he invited us to a pigeon competition up in Portavogie.


We drove up one Saturday afternoon and parked up outside a community hall in the middle of nowhere. Inside the centre was a low lit bar full of ‘pigeon men’ next door was another room full of pigeons in cages. Brian was taking each pigeon out of it’s cage and cupping the bird delicately in his hands, opening it’s wing to measure the span. It was an amazing scene. men hung around the cages waiting eagerly to find out how their prize birds had scored.


At the end of a long day of judging, the men gathered around for the results. The winner received a litre bottle of vodka. Smaller gifts were given out for runners up and the men cheered and clapped as the results were announced. We left just after dark, leaving the men celebrating in the bar.

"the pigeons gave Brian an outlet to escape it all, just as they had when he was young boy"


That summer we sat in Brian’s back garden talking to him and Ellen about the ongoing battle they were going through to free Mark, whilst Mark’s daughter Summer blew bubbles nearby and played with the two dogs. Summer told us about visiting her dad up at the prison and Ellen seemed exhausted by her battle to free her son. Mark had fallen prey to the organisations ‘still running the country’ Brian said. Ellen despite being ‘warned’ by the members of the organisation, to leave it alone and stop campaigning to get Mark out, refused to give up and Brian and her worked tirelessly to free their son. But the pigeons gave Brian an outlet to escape it all, just as they had when he was young boy.


As the birds soared around our heads over the house and circled the tower block behind their garden, you couldn’t help but feel the freedom they evoked and you could see how these common birds had come to be Brian’s saviours.

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