Big thank you from

Preparations underway for Piping Festival

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

SOME of the world's finest pipers will come together for the University of Ulster's first ever Foyle Piping Festival later this month. The unique and colourful event is sure to bring the city centre to a standstill when 10 outstanding local bands from Derry, Donegal and Belfast, line the historic Walls of Derry walls for a spectacular Foyle Tattoo on Saturday afternoon, March 28.

World-renowned bands Field Marshal Montgomery, from Lisburn, and St. Laurence O'Toole from Dublin will be on stage for the closing highlight of the three-day event, a Grand Concert in the Guildhall that night. Festival organiser Dr Liz Doherty, a lecturer in Traditional Irish Music at the Magee campus said: This really is a big coup for the university to have both these bands in one venue. They really are world class acts and the concert will undoubtedly be one to remember."

The Irish uileann pipes will also be making an appearance on stage thanks to County Antrim band Bernagh.

Dr Doherty added: 'This is an amazing opportunity for people in the wider community to come together and celebrate their piping heritage. There has been a strong piping tradition across Ireland and in Derry for hundreds of years."

Also on Friday March 27 there will be a 'Celebration of Piping in Ireland' featuring Colmcille Pipe Band and solo piping champion Andrew Carlisle and world solo drumming champion Steven McWhirter in the Great Hall Magee University at 8pm.

Throughout the festival a series of inspirational master classes, talks, workshops and late night sessions will be held both in the Magee campus and the city centre. For more information and tickets contact Cultural Development at Magee on 028 713 75456.

The 22nd Annual solo piping and drumming championships organised by Cullybackey Pipe Band will be held on Saturday April 4 in Cullybackey High School.

To allow printing of programmes it is requested that all entries are returned on or before Saturday March 28 with no late entries please.

Forms have been sent out to bands but if anyone still needs one then please contact Mr. J.Gribben 028 25 881901.

The Co.Monaghan Pipe Band Championships, presented by the Castleblaney Chamber of Commerce and the Irish Pipe Band Association (Leinster Branch) will be held on Saturday April 18 in the grounds of the Glencairn Hotel Castleblaney commencing at 1.00pm.

The championships are open to grades 4A and 4B, Grade 3 and Grade 2 with all playing a Medley selection except Grade 2 who are required to play a March Strathspey and Reel. There is excellent prize money totalling 2400 Euros over the 4 grades, with bands allowed in play in their own grade and one grade above. Entry fee is l0euros per grade and the closing date is April 11. Entries to Finbarr Connolly, 607 Howth Road, Raheny, Dublin 5. The 2009 Ulster Festival of Solo Piping and Drumming will take place on Saturday April 25 at Monkstown Community School. Entry forms have been sent out to all secretaries but copies can be obtained from Mervyn Herron contest administrator on 028 4062 4849. Closing date April 4.

The Co Down section of the RSPBA will be holding their annual indoor championships on Saturday May 2 commencing at 12 noon in Banbridge High School.

This is a great opportunity for bands to get ready for the 2009 season and assist them in trying out their new selection of tunes. Admission is £3. and closing dates for entries will be April 11.

Any bands who have not paid their money for the Northern Ireland RSPBA calendars are requested to contact Mervyn Herron as soon as possible. This would be very much appreciated.

A meeting of the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA will be held on Saturday March 28 at 2pm in the Trinity Methodist Church Hall, Knockmore Road, Lisburn. Band representatives are requested to attend as reports of the AGM of the RSPBA held recently in Glasgow will be given.

Ulster Star