IT was a superb trio of wins for Robert Watt from Maghera when he took part at the recent prestigious invitational solo piping awards in the Adair Arms Hotel Ballymena.
He swept to victory in the Piobaireachd, the Hornpipe and jig, March Strathspey and Reel sec- tions to claim the title of Piper of the Year.
There was a good attendance in support of the 17 competitors and the event was organised by Ken Stewart, the secretary of the Northern Ireland Piping Society.
A short recital after the awards were announced was given by Adjudicator Stuart Liddell, a member of the Simon Fraser University Pipe band from Vancouver Canada. Results. MSR: 1st Robert Watt, 2nd Richard Parkes, 3rd Margaret Houlihan, 4th Ryan Canning.
Piobaireachd: 1st,Robert Watt, 2nd Margaret Houlihan, 3rd Catherine Shilliday.
Hornpipe and Jig: 1st Robert Watt, 2nd Richard Parkes, 3rd Margaret Houlihan who also won the award for best junior piper.
The 7th William Kennedy International Festival of Piping, which takes place from 14 to 20 November, boasts a spectacular line up of pipers from all over the world.
As well as our own Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe band under the direction of Pipe Major Richard Parkes, there are guest appearances from the famous Hungarian Bagpipe Orchestra who will be joined by pipers from Italy including the north west, the south and Sardinia.
The Italian pipers will present a special concert in conjunction with Galician piper Anxo Lorenzo entitled 'Music of the Mediterranean' on Thursday, 16 November in the Studio Theatre.
Full details and the programme for the Festival are now available from the Market Place Theatre, while the Festival booklet packed with articles and photographs is available from the Armagh Pipers Club - telephone 028 37511248.
The annual Mini Bands competition for Grades 3 and 4 due to be held on 28 October and organised by Colmcille Pipe band has unfortunately been cancelled. This is due to lack of entries and must be a great disappointment for Barney Hassan who ran the event so faithfully for many years.
The pipe band season closed in September on a controversial note and chairman of the RSPBA, Mr Jim Cruickshank, spoke recently of his great embarrassment and that of the Officials and dignitaries at the Cowal Highland Games held in August 2000 when some bands were reluctant, or slow, to come forward, leaving big gaps in the parade.
National Council members had great difficulty getting some bands to move out of the Bus Park and beer tent areas. The gates were shut on six bands as a result.
Despite these efforts the march past took more than an hour and forty minutes to complete instead of the usual 55 minutes.
"Cowal was nothing more than a shambles," said Mr Cruickshank "Some bands had to keep Playing under difficult circumstances and we thank them for that. He stressed that it was only some bands which had given problems but it was a situation that needed to be addressed. and that the matter would be raised at the next National Council Meeting.