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.
The date of the pipe band championships will be Saturday, May 14 and it commences at 12 noon with free admission.
Also running all that day will be a piping and drumming workshop with lots of other entertainment on offer to suit all the family.
Also on Saturday evening a 'Kitchen Piping' competition along with guest Fred Morrison will take place in Gibney's music lounge commencing at 8.30pm and running till late.
The first of the big five majors - the Scottish Pipe band Championships - will take place on Saturday May 21 with the biggest ever entry.
It will be held in Dumbarton and 13 of our local bands will travel over for the event.
Adjudicators for Grade 4A and 4B will be McLellan, Wright, Craig and Cardwell. Grades 3A and 3B will be Dear, McNulty, Dunlop and R. Shepherd. Grade 2 adjudicators will be MacKenzie, Roddick, Steele and Noble with Ingram, Ronaldson, Goddall and MacInnes judging Grade 1.
The first of the outdoor section competitions will be the Co. Fermanagh Championships, which will take place on Saturday May 28 in the Celtic Park Enniskillen. Adjudicators for this event will be Colin Moffett and John Moles for piping, and Billy Dunlop and Gordon Parkes for drumming. There are Grade 1 bands entered for this event and Ballinderry Bridge wearing their new outfits will be making their debut in this grade in the North of Ireland.
The band will be competing at Malahide in the South of Ireland on May 14 but this will be their first appearance on the local scene in Ulster.
While some of our bands will not be contesting this season due to lack of personnel, it is good news that at least two will be entering the contest arena again.
Moneygore from outside Rathfriland will be competing at Enniskillen and it is hoped that Eden Pipe Band from Omagh, after an absence of some years, will be out in Grade 2 at the Co. Antrim section competition in Broughshane.
Eden will compete under Pipe Major David Caldwell and Leading Tip Ian Hetherington.
A meeting was held recently by the Co. Down section of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA in the Millbrook Hotel Ballynahinch. The arrangements for their outdoor championships to be held at Castle Ward Strangford on the June 18 were finalised.
This is a superb setting for any competition and it is one that all the family will enjoy.
The National Trust have magnificent grounds put to the disposal of the Co. Down section and it is hoped that the pipe band enthusiasts will support this new venue.
Also entries are coming in well for the competition, which will be adjudicated over by Colin Moffett, Winston Pollock, William Wallace, Andrew Wright, William Goodall, Sandy Steele, Ciaran Mordaunt and David Clark
Dates of competitions for your dairy for June will be: June 4 - Co. Antrim Championships in Broughshane; June 11 - Mid Ulster Championships in Cookstown; June 18 -Co. Down Championships at Castle Ward; and the second of the big five major championships - the European Championships - which will take place on June 25 at Banbridge.