THE 59th All Ireland Pipe Band Championships were held last Saturday in the new venue of Letterkenny Town Park, Co. Donegal.
This competition is the biggest event organised jointly by the Northern Ireland Branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and the Irish Pipe Band Association.
Huge crowds gathered in support of this popular event from all over Ireland, and even attracted visitors from Scotland England and the USA.
It was a clean sweep in all six grades for the Ulster bands with Field Marshal Montgomery under Acting Pipe Major Alastair Dunn claiming the title for the fifteenth time in Grade l. They won 1st in the Medley and second in the MSR to take the overall title. Pipe Major Richard Parkes has said that he plans to lead the Field Marshal Montgomery band in this year's world championships in August in Glasgow Green Scotland. That's welcome news for all his fans.
St. Laurence O'Toole were runners up and winners of the best drums, with Ballycoan taking 3rd place. Bleary won the best bass section and the Marching and Deportment trophy.
Pipe Major Noel Mullen and his Ballinderry Bridge were the All Ireland champions in Grade 2 winning best pipes, with the band's Drum Sergeant Melvin Bowman leading his drummers to win best drums. English band University of Luton had a worthwhile trip to Ireland when they claimed 3rd place just missing out on runner up place which was won by Cullybackey Pipe Band.
In Grade 3A the top prize went to Finvoy with Keith Gourley and the drummers of Banbridge winning the best drum section.
It was no stopping Seven Towers from claiming yet another first place win in Grade 3B when they won the All Ireland title with best pipes and best drums. Under Pipe Major David Reid and Leading Tip Michael Cartcart, this band is going from strength to strength.
Grade 4A went to Annsborough with a perfect score winning first in piping first in drumming and first in ensemble under the direction of Pipe Major Brendan Mullen.
The final grade of 4B was won by Cullybackey pipe band with the drumming trophy going to McNeillstown.
The names on the winners board for drum majors were David Brownlee (senior) Ian Scott (Juvenile 15-18) Laura Jane Lawson (junior 11-14) and Gary Scanlon (novice under 11).
The second half of the season opens with the North Down Championships in the grounds of Bangor Castle on Saturday, July 24.
This will be followed by the third major of the season when the European Championships come to Lisburn Co. Down on Saturday, July 31.
Both of these competitions are promised to be well worth marking in your diary. More about all the entertainment at these events next week.
In a letter sent to Branch secretary Lorraine McVeigh, David Hanna MBE wished to thank everyone in the Northern Ireland Branch of the Pipe Band Association who sent him congratulations and best wishes on his recent award by Her Majesty the Queen in her Birthday Honours List. He deeply appreciated all the letters and phone calls he received on been awarded this special honour.
Grade 1. 1st. MSR St.Laurence O'Toole. 2nd. F. M. Montgomery. 3rd.Ballycoan. 4th. Bleary & District. 5th.Ravara.
1st Medley. F. M. Montgomery. 2nd.St.Luarence O'Toole. 3rd.Ballycoan. 4th.Bleary & District. 5th. Ravara.
All Ireland Champions. 1st. F. M. Montgomery. (best pipes) 2nd.St.Laurence O'Toole. (best drums) 3rd.Ballycoan. 4th.Bleary & District. (Best bass section and M&D) 5th.Ravara.
Grade 2. 1st.Ballinderry Bridge. (best pipes and best drums). 2nd.Cullybackey. 3rd.University of Luton. (also best bass section). 4th. Killeen.
Grade 3A. 1st.Finvoy (also best pipes). 2nd.Bready Ulster Scots. 3rd.Arklow. 4th.North Belfast. Best Drums Banbridge.
Grade 3B 1st Seven Towers (also best pipes and best drums) 2nd. Marlacoo. 3rd.Fintan Lalor. 4th.Altnaveigh Memorial (also best bass section)
Grade 4A. 1st.Annsborough(best drums and best bass). 2nd.Sgt.Walker. 3rd.Queen Elizabeth. 4th.Castlerock.5th Gortaclare.
Grade 4B. 1st.Cullybackey. 2nd.McNeillstown(also best drums and best bass). 3rd.Thiepval Mem. Convoy. 4th.Letterkenny & District.
Drum Majors. Senior- 1st.David Brownlee. 2nd.Ian Young. 3rd.Kathy Megarry. 4th.Paula Braiden. 5th.Andrea McKeown.
Juvenile. 1st.Ian Scott. 2nd.Ryan Ferry. 3rd.Donna Gillespie. 4th.Barrv Purcell. 5th.Joanne Wilson.
Junior. 1st.Laura Jane Lawson. 2nd.Elizabeth Sloan. 3rd.Emma Chambers. 4th.Simon Kerr. 5th. Caroline Clydesdale.
Novice. 1st. Gary Scanlon. 2nd. Kiera Wilson. 3rd. Craig Clydesdale. 4th. Natasha Cherry. 5th. Lorna Robinson.