THE 55th annual Mid-Ulster Pipe Band and Drum Majors championships took place last Saturday at Cookstown High School Sports Arena. It was an excellent, well-organised day thanks to the dedication of the Mid-Ulster committee, and is one of the longest running events in the pipe band calendar.
It was a worth while trip up North for St. Laurence O'Toole from Dublin when, competing in Grade 1, they took top placing and were also winners of the best piping best drums and best bass section. Cullybackey were in second place followed by Ballycoan in third spot.
Pipe Major Sammy Connolly and Ravara Pipe Band, from outside Saintfield, are back to their winning form when they clinched the title in Grade 2 along with the trophy for best pipes.
Killeen won runner up place on piping preference from Seven Towers who won best drums and best bass. In Grade 3A the tussle continues between 3 Tyrone bands. At Saturday's event the victory went to Howard
Memorial who also secured best pipes best drums and best bass. Killen took runner up place followed by Aughintober and Cottown from Bangor.
Castlerock continues to dominate Grade 3B taking the trophies for best pipes, drums and bass section.
Grade 4A was won by Letterkenny who won best pipes with Tamlaghy O'Crilly in second and Matt Boyd in third and winners of the best drum corps.
In the final grade of 4B it was a super victory for Tullylagan smashing Thiepval Memorial unbeaten runs of first places this season. They collected trophies for best pipes, best drums and best bass securing the top spot in 4B.
Winning drum majors were Lauren Abraham (Novice), Lauren Hanna (Junior), Samantha Gordon (Juvenile) and Brian Wilson (Senior).
The Co. Down Championships will take place on Saturday June 20 at Chambers Park, Portadown with a large entry of 55 hands competing for the top places.
Entering for the first time will be the Police Service of Northern Ireland under Pipe Major Colin McClelland. They will be competing in Grade 3A against a large field of 13 bands.
Also in Grade 1 Field Marshal Montgomery will be competing against St. Laurence O'Toole, Ballycoan and Cullybackey.
The second of this year's five major championships will be the British which will be held in Banbridge on Saturday 27 June 27.
There will only be two pipe band competitions held this July.
The All Ireland will take place at the Leisureplex Lisburn on July 4, and the third major championships will be the European which will take place on Saturday July 25 at Battery Park Gourock Inverclyde.
The Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA will be running workshops for pipers, side drummers and tenor drummers at both the All Ireland in Lisburn on July 4 and the Ulster Championships in Newcastle on August 8.
The classes are aimed at all abilities and the Branch is especially keen to give young people with no experience a taster of the pipe band world.
Instruction will start at 12 noon both days and will run for approximately 45 mts. There will also be chanter and drum pad competitions following the workshop. Anyone interested can contact the Branch Office on 9267 0445 or email email@example.com
The Quinn Memorial Pipe Band has some places still available for this year's World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow on August 15.
More information on times and prices can be obtained by contacting Pipe Major Harry Bloomfield on 29541393.
The fifth annual promotion of the Competing Soloists' Organisation solo piping and solo drumming competitions, an element of the Glenarm Castle Highland Games, will be held on Tuesday July 14 and Wednesday July 15. Organised and run over two days in the picturesque grounds of the Earl of Antrim's spacious estate at Glenarm Castle, the competitions take place in a true Highland Games atmosphere. With many other attractions and activities going on, these games are extremely family orientated and are very much a firm favourite among the young soloists taking part. The closing date for entries is Monday June 29. Further information can be obtained from CSO Secretary Samuel Lawson at 8 Annaghanoon Road Waringstown Craigavon BT66 7RZ telephone 028 3882 0374.
Solo players should also note two other CSO promotions to follow later in the year. The 'Celtic Thistle Festival of Piping and Drumming' is scheduled to take place in September and the 'Young Piper of the Year', an invitational event for young solo pipers, will be held in October. Again any soloist wishing to compete for either or both of these events should contact the CSO secretary Samuel Lawson at the above address or telephone number for further details.
Grade 4B - 1st. Tullylagan (also best pipes best drums and best bass) 2nd. Thiepval Memorial. 3rd. Upper Crossgare. 4th. Fivemiletown.
Grade 4A - 1st. Letterkenny (also best pipes). 2nd. Tamlaght O'Crilly. 3rd. Matt Boyd (also best drums & Marching & Deportment) 4th. Moneygore. Best bass won by Bready Ulster Scots.
Grade 3B - 1st. Castlerock (also best pipes, best drums and best bass) 2nd. Colmcille (also M&D)
Grade 3A - 1st. Howard Memorial (also best pipes, best drums and best bass). 2nd. Killen. (also M&D) 3rd.Aughintober. 4th. Cottown.
Grade 2 - 1st. Ravara (also best pipes and M&D). 2nd. Killeen. 3rd. Seven Towers (also best drums and best bass). 4th. Annsborough
Grade 1 - 1st. St.Laurence O'Toole (also best pipes, best drums and best bass). 2nd. Cullybackey. 3rd. Ballycoan. (also M&D).
Novice Drum Majors - 1st. Lauren Abraham. 2nd. Emma Barr. 3rd. Zoe McDowell. 4th. Lauren McKeown.