IT IS all systems go for this year's European Pipe Band Championships, which will take place in Banbridge on Saturday 25th June.
Over 140 bands and 50 drum majors will be taking part in this, the biggest ever event to be staged by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association in Northern Ireland.
Held in the Rugby Grounds, Newry Road, the championships will start at 9am and should finish around 6 o'clock with eight grades taking part in the four arenas.
Bands will travel from Scotland, England New Zealand and the South of Ireland to compete for the European Championship titles, with Field Marshal Montgomery under Pipe Major Richard Parkes defending their title which they won in Lisburn last year.
This event will bring thousands of visitors to the town with most of the local hotels and guesthouses completely booked up.
The influx of visitors is expected to have major benefits for local shops and restaurants.
The 60th All Ireland Pipe Band Championships will end the first half of the 2005 season and these will take place in the Donard Park in Newcastle on Saturday 2nd July with the revised starting time of 11 am. This is due to the large number of entries received for this competition.
When the Co. Down section of the RSPBA began planning their annual competition many months ago their idea of making the event one of the very best in Northern Ireland seemed a difficult and almost unachievable one. But thanks to the determination of Mervyn Herron and the section officers, in partnership with the National Trust, last Saturday's event in Castle Ward proved a great success.
The day lived up to its promise to be a great day out for all the family and the host of attractions brought a real carnival atmosphere to the occasion.
In Grade 1 Field Marshal Montgomery won the Tom Geddis Memorial trophy when they had a clean sweep of the prizes winning first place, best drums and best bass.
The New Zealand Police, under Pipe Major Graeme Bilsland, who are touring Northern Ireland took runner up place, with third place going to St.Laurence O'Toole from Dublin.
These three bands will meet again next Saturday at the European Championships to battle it out for supremacy in Grade One.
Ravara Pipe Band with Pipe Major Sammy Connolly is still continuing to dominate Grade 2 and they won overall first place and the best drums awards.
Seven Towers from Ballymena with Pipe Major David Reid were delighted with their performance in Grade 3A to take the Co. Down title. Marlacoo won the drumming and runner up place.
Annsborough from Co. Down had yet another good victory in Grade 3B with Battlehill winning second place and the best drums trophy.
There were new winners in Grade 4A with McNeillstown claiming victory over their other 10 rivals in this, the biggest grade of the day.
Completing the championship line up of winners was Raffrey, under Pipe Major Francis Strain, who took top place in Grade 4B with Dr. Wright Memorial from Newtownards winning best drums and best bass.
The winning drum majors were Kathy Megarry (Senior grade); Ryan Ferry (Juvenile); Linzi Hamilton (Junior) and Laura Abraham (Novice Juvenile).
The pipe band association is saddened to learn of the death of Jim Major. Jim was the treasurer of the Co. Down section of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA for 35 years and will be sadly missed by all his colleagues. The sympathy of the Branch is extended to his family and friends.
|Grade 4B. 1st Raffrey. 2nd Cleland Memorial. 3rd Monkstown Mossley. 4th Cullybackey. Best Drums and best bass-Dr. Wright Memorial.|
|Grade 4A. 1st McNeillstown. 2nd Castlerock. 3rd Gransha. 4th Queen Elizabeth (also best bass). Best Drums Aughintober.|
|Grade 3B. 1st Annsborough. 2nd Battlehill (also best drums and best bass). 3rd Killen. 4th Cottown.|
|Grade 3A. 1st Seven Towers. 2nd Marlacoo (also best drums and best bass). 3rd Banbridge. 4th North Belfast.|
|Grade 2. 1st Ravara (also best drums). 2nd Killeen. 3rd Upper Crossgare. 4th Howard memorial. Best Bass Cullybackey.|
|Grade 1. 1st Field Marshal Montgomery (also best drums best bass and M&D). 2nd New Zealand Police. 3rd St. Laurence O'Toole. 4th Ballycoan.|
|Novice Juvenile Drum Majors. 1st Laura Abraham. 2nd Kiera Wilson. 3rd Dale Fisher. 4th Lauren Muldrew.|
|Junior. 1st Linzi Hamilton. 2nd Caroline Clydesdale. 3rd Samanatha Gordon. 4th Lorna Robinson. 5th Sharon Martin.|
|Juvenile. 1st Ryan Ferry. 2nd Elizabeth Sloan. 3rd Donna Gillespie. 4th Alicia Dickson. 5th Emma Chambers.|
|Senior. 1st Kathy Megarry. 2nd Ian Young. 3rd Paula Braiden. 4th Gloria Patterson. 5th Brian Wilson|