Big thank you from

Sun shines on red hot Field Marshal Montgomery 

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

THE 53rd Ulster Pipe Band Championships took place last Saturday in Donard Park Newcastle. This magnificent setting, which nestles at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, is always a popular venue for pipe band enthusiasts.

It was mainly a day of bright sunshine for this, the last of this year's local competitions, and hundreds of holiday makers mingled with fans to lend their support to the 63 bands and drum majors competing for the Ulster Championship titles.

At the end of the Finale, World Champion bands and drum corps - McNeillstown, Annsborough, Gortaclare, Seven Towers, Finvoy, Ballinderry Bridge and Field Marshal Montgomery - were led into the arena by world champion drum majors Brian Wilson and Elizabeth Sloan, where they received the well deserved applause from their fellow bandsmen, bands women and supporters.

Field Marshal Montgomery, under Pipe Major Richard Parkes and Leading Tip Keith Orr, took their pipers and drummers to their 14th Ulster Championship title in Grade 1.

It appeared to be just a stroll in the park for this band with their unique sound and superb playing, and their record of Ulster titles will be difficult for any other band to equal or surpass. Pipe Major Alfie Rea and Grade 1 Ballycoan won the Champion of Champions title for 2004 in both piping and drumming.

Other local bands to do well at the Ulster championships were Upper Crossgare under Pipe Major Trevor Connor, who took third place in Grade 2, and Drumlough, in only their second outing this season, took a well deserved fourth place in Grade 4B with Pipe Major Nigel Burrows.

What an encouragement this must be to this band who have not been competing for some time now.

In drum majoring, world champion Elizabeth Sloan from Stoneyford, had no equal when she won the Ulster junior title and clinched the overall champion of champions titles.

What an array of silverware this young teenager has won this season.

World Champion Brian Wilson (Syerla) added the Ulster trophy to last week's world title and Kathy Megarry (Upper Crossgare) who was runner up in the senior grade drum majoring section, won the champion of champions.

Other Ulster champions were Ballinderry Bridge (Grade 2) Finvoy (Grade 3A) Altnaveigh Memorial (Grade 3B) Annsborough (Grade 4A) Cullybackey (Grade 4B), Ryan Ferry (Juvenile Drum Major) and Craig Clydesdale (Novice Juvenile Drum Major).

Chieftain of the Day was Councillor Robert Burgess, Chairman of Down District Council and the contest was organised as usual in their most efficient way by the Northern Ireland branch 4 the RSPBA in conjunction with Down District Council.

Mervyn Herron, contest secretary of the NI Branch, announced provisional dates for the televising of the recent European Pipe Band Championships, which were held in Lisburn on 31st July. The two 40 minute programmes are hoped to be aired on the 13th and the 20th September on BBC television.

These dates and times will be confirmed soon.

This Saturday 28th August the curtain comes down for the last of this year's competitions when the Cowal Highland Gathering is held in Dunoon Scotland.

One hundred and sixty bands will be competing at the last of the big five majors with only fourteen travelling from Ulster for the event.

They are Field Marshal Montgomery, Ballycoan and Bleary in Grade 1; Cullybackey and Ballinderry Bridge in Grade 2; North Belfast Tullintrain and Quinn Memorial in Grade 3A; Seven Towers and Altnaveigh Memorial in 3B; Bellaghy Gortaclare and Castlerock in 4A and Cleland Memorial in 4B.

Results of Ulster Championships
  • Grade l. 1st F. M. Montgomery (also best pipes best drums and best bass section). 2nd Bleary & District. 3rd Ballycoan. 4th Ravara (2nd best drums and, M&D).
  • Grade 2. 1st Ballinderry Bridge (also best pipes and best bass section) 2nd Cullybackey (also best drums and M&D) 3rd I Upper Crossgare. 4th Tullylagan.
  • Grade 3A 1st Finvoy (best pipes and best bass) 2nd Woodgrange. 3rd North Belfast. 4th Banbridge (also best drums).
  • Grade 3B. 1st On ensemble preference Altnaveigh Memorial (also joint best pipes). 2nd Seven Towers (also best drums best bass and joint best pipes). 3rd Marlacoo. 4th Cottown (also M&D)
  • Grade 4A. 1st Annsborough (best pipes). 2nd Gortaclare. 3rd Aughintober. 4th Battlehill. Castlerock (best drums and best bass).
  • Grade 4B. 1st Cullybackey. 2nd McNeillstown. (Best drum corps) 3rd Monkstown Mossley. 4th Drumlough. Thiepval Mem. Convoy best bass section.
  • Senior Drum Majors. 1st Brian Wilson. 2nd Kathy Megarry. 3rd Paula Braiden. 4th Ian Young. 5th Anthony Evans.
  • Juvenile. 1st Ryan Ferry. 2nd Donna Gillespie. 3rd Ian Scott. 4th Barry Purcell. 5th Victoria Singer.
  • Junior. 1st Elizabeth Sloan. 2nd Linzi Hamilton. 3rd Simon Ken. 4th Samantha Gordon. 5th Emma Chambers.
  • Novice Juvenile. 1st Craig Clydesdale. 2nd Lorna Robinson. 3rd Gary Scanlon. 4th Kiera Wilson. 5th Natasha Cherry.
Champions of Champions.
  • Grade 1: - Ballycoan both piping and drumming
  • Grade 2: - Ballinderry Bridge. Best Drums Cullybackey.
  • Grade 3A: - Finvoy Best Drums Banbridge.
  • Grade 3B: - Seven Towers both piping and drumming.
  • Grade 4A: - Annsborough Best drums Castlerock
  • Grade 4B: - McNeillstown both piping and drumming.
  • Novice Drum Majors. Craig Clydesdale.
  • Junior. Elizabeth Sloan.
  • Juvenile. Donna Gillespie Senior. Kathy Megarry

Ulster Star