It may all have seemed like a 'pipe' dream at times, but the bands from Northern Ireland made it a reality by reigning supreme in all six grades. What a great day it was for the Irish - on a day when even the weather smiled on them as they lifted all the top world championship trophies, a feat never before accomplished by any branch within the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.
Young and old bands men and women stood with tears in their eyes as the results were announced and they realised that this day would go down in history as the day Ulster bands ruled the world.
Estimated with a record crowd of 40,000 and with more than 8,000 bandsmen and women from 230 bands, the ultimate jewel in any band's crown is to win the world title.
They had poured
in from Canada, America, Denmark, Germany, South Africa, France,
New Zealand, Australia, Scotland
England and Ireland with a single unifying purpose - to win the world pipe band championships. But the day belonged to world champions Field Marshal Montgomery, winning the Grade 1 title for the fourth time under the leadership of Pipe Major Richard Parkes. They stood head and shoulders above every other band in the Park with a brilliant sound and playing to match in both piping and drumming.
The roar that went up at the end of their performance only confirmed that this band was indeed destined to be the new 2004 world champions. Keith Orr and his drummers from Field Marshal won the medley drum corps section and were runners up in the overall finals.
The rest of the world champions were: World Champions Ballinderry Bridge in Grade 2 in both piping and drumming; World Champions Finvoy in Grade 3A; World Champions Seven Towers in Grade 3B who were the only band to win four first places; World Champions Annsborough in Grade 4A and World Champions McNeillstown in Grade 4B.
As well as winning the top band trophies there were also winners in other sections of the championships. Gortaclare took the world title for best drums in Grade 4A and Brian Wilson (senior) and Laura Jane Lawson (Junior) the world titles for drum majoring.
They all have and rightly deserve the acclaim and praise of all bandsmen and women not only in Northern Ireland, but also in the world for they are all indeed worthy world champions.
This Saturday, August 21, the Ulster Pipe Band Championships take place in Newcastle starting at the earlier time of 11.40am. There are 63 bands entered for this event, but all eyes will be on our new world champions as they take their lap of honour before all their fellow bands people and supporters.
The last of the major
championships for 2004 is the Cowal Highland Games and this takes
place on Saturday August 28 in Dunoon Scotland.
Grade 1: Final - 1st Field Marshal Montgomery. 2nd Simon Fraser Highlanders (plus best drums). 3rd House of Edgar - Shotts. 4th Strathclyde Police. 5th Scottish Power. 6th St.Laurence O'Toole.
Gradel Medley - 1st F.M.Montgomery (plus drums). 2nd Simon Fraser Highlanders. 3rd House of Edgar-Shotts. 4th Strathclyde Police. 5th Scottish Power. 6th St.Laurence O'Toole.
Grade 1 MSR - 1st Simon Fraser Highlanders. 2nd F. M. Montgomery. 3rd House of Edgar
Shotts. 4th Strathclyde Police (plus drums). 5th 78th Frasers Highlanders. 6th St.Laurence O'Toole.
Grade 2 - 1st Ballinderry Bridge (plus drums). 2nd Robert Malcolm Mem. 3rd Baqad Cap. Caval. 4th Windsor Police. 5th Drambuie Kirkliston. 6th Glengarry.
Grade 3A - 1st Finvoy. 2nd Black Raven (plus drums). 3rd Keven R. Blandford mem. 4th Bready. 5th North Belfast. 6th Strathclyde Fire Brigade.
Grade 3B - 1st Seven Towers (plus drums). 2nd Marlacoo. 3rd Fintan Lalor. 4th Altnaveigh Mem. 5th Prince George Pipe Band. 6th Williamwood.
Grade 4A - 1st Annsborough. 2nd Gortaclare (plus drums). 3rd Castlerock. 4th Corpus Christi. 5th Cumnock & District. 6th Sgt Walker mem.
Grade 4B - Ist McNeillstown. 2nd Thiepval Mem. 3rd Kirkwall City. 4th Misty Isle. 5th Kirkcudbright & Dist (plus drums). 6th Keith Highlanders. Monkstown Mossley were third in the Novice Grade.
Senior Drum Majors - Ist Brian Wilson. 2nd John Noble. 3rd W.Jordan. 4th Paula Braiden. 5th K.Macheffner.
Juvenile - Ist J.Paquio. 2nd A.Morton. 3rd R.Ferry. 4th B.Purcell. 5th I.Scott.
Junior - 1st Laura Jane Lawson. 2nd S.Gordon. 3rd A.Symon. 4th Linzi Hamilton. 5th E.Chambers.
The prestigious title really was the 'jewel in the crown' for Elizabeth Sloan of Ballycoy Road as it came just weeks after she took number one position at the European Championships in the grounds of Lisburn's Leisureplex.
Glasgow Green in the heart of Scotland's largest city was transformed into a sea of tartan for last Saturday's event during which Elizabeth and 21 other young people competed for the global title in front of more than 10,000 spectators.
"Basically we were judged on both our marching and our flourish," she explained.
"The judges also watched how we handled the Mace, which is the long pole drum majors carry while leading a band."
Taking the title was a dream come true for the teenager: "I was very happy and very pleased," she added.
"The weather was really beautiful for the championships and it was a really proud moment when I was presented with the shield by the Lady Provost of Glasgow."
Elizabeth, who also plays the pipes, is a member of the Quinn Memorial Pipe Band.
This is based at Killygullib, close to Kilrea: "I have to go up there for band practice," she explained.
"We do take part in some parades and during the summer we can be competing nearly every weekend."
Quinn Memorial Pipe Band is a member of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and has just been upgraded to Grade 3b.
It was founded in 1950 and in 1965 won the Grade One All Ireland Championships.
its 50th anniversary in 2000 when a number of functions were
organised to mark this milestone in its history.
LISBURN'S Mayor Councillor Cecil Calvert said he was 'delighted' to hear of the success of Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band and local girl Elizabeth Sloan in the World Championships.
He added: "Following on from our own European Pipe Band Championships I was thrilled to hear of the Field Marshall Montgomery and Elizabeth's tremendous achievements in one of the most prestigious pipe band competitions in the world, which attracts world-class pipe bands.
"It takes years of commitment, dedication and practice of course to reach the dizzying heights that the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band have reached.
"And Elizabeth has shown she is going to be one of the stars of the future.
"Congratulations to all concerned."
LISBURN'S Deputy Mayor has congratulated the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band for their achievements in last weekend's World P i p e B a n d Championships in Glasgow.
The band, who are based in Flowerhill Orange Hall in Hillhall, won the Grade One title for the fourth time and Councillor Bill Gardiner-Watson says they should be proud of their achievements. "I'm very pleased that a band closely associated with the city has achieved such outstanding success," said Mr. Gardiner-Watson. "I'm very pleased that this has happened and I wish them all the very best in the future."
Mr. Gardiner-Watson also passed on his congratulations to Ballinderry girl Elizabeth Sloan for her personal achievements.
"She has brought great honour to piping and drumming in Lisburn city," he added.
"We are very fortunate to have so many outstanding bands associated with the city of Lisburn. I wish them every success in the future."