THREE European Pipe Band Championship titles came back to Northern Ireland last Saturday when the European Championships, which is the third major championships of the year, took place at Battery Park, Gourock, Scotland.
Lifting their third championship title this season was Grade 1 Field Marshal Montgomery under the direction of Pipe Major Richard Parkes and Leading Tip Keith Orr. The band has already secured the British and Scottish titles and are looking confident of winning the ultimate prize in pipe band honours - the World Championships. St. Laurence O'Toole from Dublin took the honours for best drums under leading. Tip Stephen Creighton.
In Grade 3A the European Championship title was won by the Howard Memorial from Dungannon under Pipe Major Gareth Currens and Leading Tip Ian Hetherington. This band has been in the top prize list all season and look destined for promotion to Grade 2 next season. Raffrey were also in the prizes in this grade taking a commendable fifth placing on ensemble preference. Winning their first major title this season in Grade 4A with 7 points to spare was Pipe Major Harry Bloomfield and the Quinn Memorial Band. This must be an encouraging result for the Quinn as they prepare for the rest of the season's corn- g petitions, especially the Ulster and the Worlds in August. In Grade 2 there looks as if there is no stopping Inveraray & District when they picked up their third title of the season. The band is led by Pipe Major g Stuart Liddell and Leading Tip Stephen McWhirter and promotion to Grade 1 is certainly on the cards for them. Ravara under Pipe Major Sam Connolly had a good tune and was placed third in this grade.
Irish band Thiepval Memorial led by Lady Pipe Major g Alyson McKnight was the only band to secure a perfect score of four first places to lift the European title in Grade 4B. Unusually for our Drum Majors there were no first place titles won at the European, but Paula Braiden took runner up place, Brian Wilson third place, and Alicia Dickson fifth in the senior grade.
Linzi Hamilton was second and Samantha Gordon third in the Juvenile grade. Elizabeth Barr was in runner up place with Bethan Martin, Zoe McDowell and Joanne Graham all winning places in the junior grade. The North Down Championships, which take place in the Castle Grounds Bangor on Saturday August 1, will feature 51 bands, with Grade 4B commencing at 12 o'clock. This venue is always popular and, weather permitting, should attract a large crowd of pipe band supporters and holiday makers.
The Ulster Championships will be held on August 8 in Donard Park Newcastle. Contest Secretary Mervyn Herron is delighted with the response of entries with seven Grade 1 bands competing for the Ulster title, each band playing twice. Grade 4 is a Map Based contest and will start at 11am.
Grade 4B - 1st. Thiepval Memorial (also best drums). 2nd. Perth & District. 3rd. Williamwood. 4th. Denny & Dunipace. 5th. City of Newcastle. 6th. Fraserburgh RBL
Grade 4A - 1st. Quinn Memorial. 2nd. Letterkenny & District. 3rd. Stockbridge 4th. Dunoon Argyll. 5th. RAF Leuchars. 6th. Culter & District. Best drums - Burntisland.
Grade 3B - 1st. Black Bottle Isle of Islay. 2nd. Troon Blackrock. 3rd. Royal Burgh of Stirling. 4th.Turrif & District. (also best drums) 5th. Methil & District. 6th. Kirkcaldy.
Grade 3A - 1st. Howard Memorial (also best drums). 2nd. Linlithgow & District. 3rd. Williamwood. 4th. City of Brechin. 5th. Raffrey. 6th. Cullen.
Grade 2 1st. Inveraray 2nd. Dumfries & Galloway (also best drums). 3rd. Ravara. 4th. Phoenix Honda Glasgow Skye. 5th. Lomond & Clyde. 6th. Grampian Police.
Grade 1 - 1st. Field Marshal Montgomery. 2nd. St.Laurence O'Toole (also best drums). 3rd. House of Edgar Shotts. 4th. Strathclyde Police. 5th. Scottish Power. 6th. Boghall & Bathgate.
Drum Majors - Senior 1st. William Jordan. 2nd. Paula Braiden. 3rd. Brian Wilson. 4th. G.Craig. 5th. Alicia Dickson. 6th. Vikki Singer.
Juvenile - 1st. Andrew Symon. 2nd. Linzi Hamilton. 3rd. Samantha Gordon. 4th. Gemma McKinney. 5th. Calum Brown. 6th. Iona Burns.
Junior - 1st. Matthew McKinney. 2nd. Elizabeth Barr. 3rd. Bethan Martin. 4th. Zoe McDowell. 5th. Kevan Renton. 6th.Joanne Graham.