THE 6th Annual Festival of Piping and Drumming will take place on Saturday 10 May in the grounds of Malahide Castle and a good entry of bands has been received from Northern Ireland for this event.
The 2002 reigning world champions Field Marshal Montgomery will return to defend the Grade 1 title they won last year in Malahide.
This will be the first time their new Leading Tip Keith Orr will lead the drum corps onto the competition arena.
Malahide is seen as a great try out for full pipe bands before they head off to Scotland the following week for the first of the five major championships - The Scottish - which will take place in Levengrove 'Park Dumbarton on 17 May commencing at 10am.
Whisky firm Laphroaig are again to sponsor this event and the local council say they expect more than 20,000 people to attend and 110 bands, which include 22 from the North of Ireland.
Executive Officer Ian Embelton is very pleased with the healthy uptake of places for the forthcoming major championships including the Europeans at Alden Beisen Belgium.
He said there has been a great response from mainland Europe. The Dutch Pipe Band Association alone have asked for 25 entry forms. Mr Embelton also confirmed there would be a minimum payment of £400 paid by the sponsors to each competing band at Alden Beisen.
The final competition to take place in May will be the Co. Fermanagh Championships, which will be held in Celtic Playing Fields, Enniskillen commencing at 12 noon.
Unfortunately the Mini bands competition which should have been held on Saturday 3 May and organised by Gortaclare Pipe Band had to be cancelled due to lack of entries.
At the 2002 Annual General Meeting last October it was announced that two Canadian bands -the 78th Fraser Highlanders from Toronto and the Simon Fraser University band from Vancouver had joined the Northern Ireland branch.
Both bands, former world champions, had joined the RSPBA to develop closer ties with the association, and Northern Ireland was their closest Branch.
However both of these bands have now withdrawn. As member bands they would not have been given an automatic place in the Grade 1 final even though they made the prize list last year since they could no longer be classified as non-RSPBA bands.
They would have had to have gone through the morning qualifying procedure.
North Belfast Pipe band had the honour of playing before the start of this year's Irish Cup Final at Windsor Park Belfast, between Glentoran and Coleraine.
The band received great applause when it was led onto the football pitch by Drum Major Malcolm Wilson from Maghera.
Malcolm's first appearance in front of the band was carried out in a very dignified way which was much appreciated by all the band members and crowd of supporters.
Gary West has taken over the full time presentation, of 'Pipeline' on Radio Scotland. He had shared hosting duties with Robert Wallace since April last year, after host and presenter Iain MacInnes took a one year sabbatical from the programme.
It is hoped that Robert will continue to have an active, though different, role on the programme over the next few months.
'Pipeline' currently airs for 55 minutes every Sunday evening at 9.05.
There is a set of very valuable R.G. Laurie bagpipes, silver and ivory mounted, for sale. Please phone 867 64564 or 867 63671 for further details.