CO. Down's annual Indoor Full bands competition was held last Saturday in Banbridge High School with 35 bands, over the four grades, competing for top honours.
As usual there was a capacity audience as this event is one of the most popular in the piping calendar. And although there was the absence of organiser Mervyn Herron (who was away at a wedding) everything went smoothly and to plan.
Ravara took 1st place in Grade 2 as well as winning best drums; Marlacoo did the double as well in Grade 3A; Battlehill won Grade 3B with the drum corps award going to St.Patrick's Bandon. Gransha were in tip top form to win Grade 4A with Aughintober getting best drums and Cleland Memorial 1st in Grade 413 with Banbridge Junior band winning the drumming trophy.
Malahide Festival of Piping and Drumming will welcome its first pipe band from Scotland when their 8th Festival takes place on May 13 - 15.
Grade 1 Scottish Power, with a 50 strong party, will be arriving in preparation to join the other grade 1 bands who are determined that this year is the year they will displace Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe band from their now almost permanent position as winners of the Malahide Festival Grade I competition.
Field Marshal will no doubt be hoping to make it eight in a row this year and it would take an outstanding band indeed to have any chance of taking their crown.
On Friday May 13 this year's Malahide Invitational solo competition will take place in the new and bigger venue of the Grand Hotel, Malahide commencing at 8pm.
The evening promises to be one of the finest competitive displays of solo piping ever seen in Ireland and the organisers are also promising the appearance of a very special guest on the night.
Thirteen of the world's best will battle it out playing an MSR and a Jig and Hornpipe of their choice.
Names include Margaret Houlihan, Alastair Dunn, Alen Tully, John Revilles, Andrew Carlisle, Jonathan Greenlees, Clive McFarland, Darragh McCarthy, Peter Dorman, Gary Waterson, Michael Egan and two from the Scottish Power - Donald MacPhee and Peter Hunt.
Adjudicators will be John Wilson from Glasgow and Tom Anderson from Canada.
For further information please contact Tony Markey Festival secretary on 01 8461968 or Fingal Tourism on 01 840 0077.
The date of the band contest is Saturday May 14 and it commences at 12 noon with free admission.
Also running all that day will be a piping and drumming workshop which anyone can visit to find our more about piping and drumming or to try their hand at playing, or banging on, the big bass drum.
There will be face painting, Bouncy Castles, Slides and new fun activities for children, with a Tug-a-War competition for the 'Elite Kamino Perpetual Cup'.
Also on Saturday evening a 'Kitchen Piping' competition with guest Fred Morrison will take place in Gibneys music lounge from 8.30pm till late.
The first of the big five majors - the Scottish Pipe band Championships - will take place on Saturday May 21 with their biggest ever entry.
It will be held in Dumbarton and 13 of our local bands will travel over for the event.
The closing date for the Co. Fermanagh Pipe band Championships, which takes place on May 28, is Saturday May 7. All entries should be sent to secretary Ken Booth, 14 Laragh Road, Ballycassidy, Enniskillen on or before that date.
At the present there is a good entry of bands for this competition with at least two from Grade 1.
The only Belfast outfit left competing this season is Grade 3A North Belfast. They will soon be playing on new pipes and drums as they have just received a lottery grant from the Arts Council.
The band's first competition will be the Co. Antrim championships at Broughshane.
Grade 4B. 1st Cleland Memorial. 2nd Drundough. 3rd Cullybackey. 4th Antrim. Best Drums Banbridge Junior.
Grade 4A. 1st Gransha. 2nd Queen Elizabeth. 3rd Aughintober (also best drums). 4th Letterkenny.
Grade 3B. 1st Battlehill. 2nd St. Patrick's Bandon (also best drums). 3rd Annsborough. 4th Cottown.
Grade 3A. 1st Marlacoo (also best drums). 2nd Banbridge. 3rd Seven Towers. 4th Arklow.
Grade 2. 1st Ravara (also best drums). 2nd Cullybackey. 3rd.Killeen.