IT was a clean sweep of all the prizes for our drum majors at the 57th All Ireland Championships held recently in Kilkenny.
Total domination in each of the grades made it a splendid day of success for all our competitors.
In the senior grade, European champion Ian Young from Ravara Pipe band got the verdict for 1st place over Paula Braiden from Ballycoan. Brian Wilson (Syerla), Kathy Megarry (Upper Crossgare) and Alistair Patterson (Field Marshal) completed the winning list.
It was a conquest by the girls in the juvenile section with Jennifer Elvin, also European champion, topping the prize list, with Wendy Ferry (Aughintober), Jayne Hassin (Tullylagan), Danielle Sharvin (Leapoughs) and Diana Kerr (Cullenfad) in the remaining places.
It was success again for Ryan Ferry from Aughintober in the junior grade. Ryan too is the reigning European Champion.The other winners in this section were Elizabeth Sloan (Quinn Memorial), Laura McComb (Frank Rainey), Laura Jane Lawson (Howard) and Donna Gillespie (Leapoughs).
In the Novice Juvenile grade Jason Morrison from Tullylagan came first, followed by Simon Kerr (Cullenfad), Kirsty Harron (Altnaveigh) and Linzi Hamilton (Killeen).
Geoghegan Pipe band under the leadership of Pipe Major Trevor Weir hope to be out on the `grass' next season after an absence of some years. With a new drum corps led by Adolphus Liggett, it will be good to see this popular band back in competitive business once again.
The second half of the season kicks off on Saturday 20 July with the North Down Championships in Bangor.
Admission to this event is free and usually attracts a large crowd of supporters and holiday makers.
Over 30 bands are entered for this competition and the adjudicators on the day will be John Moles and Harry Stevenson for piping, and Adrian Hoy and Billy Dunlop for drumming.
There will also be a special solo piping event for boys and girls aged 14 and under with entries taken on the day. Pipe Major Harry Stevenson will be the adjudicator for this solo event.
A very distinguished visitor attended the recent European Pipe Band Championships at the Ormeau Park Belfast. Willy Claes, along with a party from Belgium, travelled over to see for himself the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association in action.
Belgium will host the European Championships in September 2003 in the beautiful setting at Alden Beisen Castle.
Mr Claes has held important posts in the Belgium government including Minister of Economic Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed as Minister of State in 1983 by King Baudouin. - a post he held for some years.
In September 1994 Mr Claes was nominated by NATO as Secretary General of NATO. He is a well known orchestral conductor and accomplished musician, and it was a great honour for the RSPBA to have him take the time to attend the Championships.
Mitchell Hutchinson, former Executive Officer of the RSPBA was presented recently_ with an Honorary Life membership of the association.
The award was in recognition of the many years of hard work done by Mitchell on behalf of the pipe band movement in general and the RSPBA in particular.