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Local bands head to first ever Foyle Piping Festival

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

THE University of Ulster will host not one, but two, of the finest pipe bands anywhere in the world, at their first ever Foyle Piping Festival to take place in Londonderry on March 28.

Six times world champions Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, under the leadership of Pipe Major Richard Parkes and Leading Tip Keith Orr, will be taking centre stage along with St.Laurence O'Toole under Pipe Major Terry Tully, who are the current Scottish, British, All Ireland Champions and Champion of Champions in Grade 1.

The concert will take place in Londonderry's Guild Hall and admission is £15.

Then on the evening of Friday March 27, world drumming champion Steven McWhirter, previously of the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band Canada, and now the Leading Tip of Grade 2 Inveraray Pipe Band, will be appearing in concert in the Great Hall Magee Campus. Appearing along with Steven is Andrew Carlisle, three times All Ireland senior champion. Local band Colmcille will also be appearing at this venue and the admission cost is £6.

Colmcille Pipe Band who will be appearing in the concert in Magee Campus has been promoted to Grade 3B for this coming season.

The band was formed in 1978 in the home of the Hasson's in Ardnamoyle Park in the Shantallow area of Londonderry.

It is run on a strong family base and has players from both the North and South of Ireland playing in its ranks.

Pipe Major Mark Hasson joined Colmcille in 1995 after spending some time piping with Monkstown Mossley, Killadeas and Ballycoan bands.

The Leading Tip is Brian Hasson Junior and Brian Hasson Senior is the band's tutor.

2008 was the most successful year for the band when they won the Ulster Championships in both piping and drumming in Grade 4A. They also took the runner up place at the North West championships in Portrush.

But the crowning glory came on August 16, 2008 when they won the coveted world championship title at Glasgow Green Scotland, thus ensuring their elevation to Grade 3B.

Colmcille are always on the look out for new players and if anyone is interested then you can contact Pipe Major Mark Hasson by email on

The William Kerr Memorial Pipe Band, a band from the Dungannon area, was invited to entertain the audience at the Belfast Giant's ice hockey match against Scotland's Edinburgh Capitals in the Odyssey arena just after Christmas.

The band provided a Hogmanay reception in the foyer before the match and during the interval and also provided the music for the Bright Light Scottish dancers.

Pipe Major of the band is Andrew Shilliday and John Johnston is normally the leading tip, but Simon Kerr acted on his behalf on that evening.

Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band has been honoured in the 2008 New Year's honours list from Pipes/Drums website from Canada.

Voted the 'Best Recording of the Year' by a panel of the world's top pipers and drummers, the band received the award for their DVD release of Rewind-Replay. This is the first time ever that a DVD has featured as winners of this honour.

Just a reminder of the special meeting of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA on Saturday January 31 in Trinity Methodist Church Hall Knockmore Road Lisburn commencing at 2pm.

The main focus of the meeting will centre on what Grade 4A and B will play at competitions next season. At present they have to play 2/4 marches and not allowed to play their own selection of tunes.

All band representatives are urged to attend this meeting, especially those who have an interest in Grade 4A and 4B.


Ulster Star