SAINTFIELD Pipe Band held their 40th annual indoor pipe band contest last Saturday. It was a full bands event and although the number of bands competing was disappointing, it was a valuable practise for the start of this season's competitions.
In Grade 3A Battlehill took the top honours under Pipe Major Mark Faloon. This is the bands first time to compete in 3A and is a pleasing start to the new season for them. They were followed by Banbridge who won best drums with Cottown in third place.
The first three winners in Grade 4A were Raffrey, Cullenfad and Drumlough with Cullenfad winning the drumming trophy. And in the Grade 4B contest Dromara, making a welcome return to the competition arena were first, with Lisnamullagan in runner up place and winning best drums and Rasharkin taking the final third placing.
The Co. Down full bands event will take place in Banbridge High School on Saturday May 6.
The adjudicators for this will be Trevor Dear, Dixie Ingram, Jim Semple and William Goodall.
This competition has been running for several years now and the organisers have the distinction of being the first branch to have introduced a full indoor pipe band competition anywhere in the world.
It has gone from strength to strength and this year an entry of 30 bands will compete in five grades 2, 3A and 3B, 4A and 4B.
Grade 1 Simon Fraser University Pipe Band from British Columbia have confirmed their plans to travel to Pitlochry Scotland to compete at the British Championships on June 24.
Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee has confirmed that the band will compete with new Naill chanters at the championships.
"The main reason we are going to the British Championships is that we enjoy the challenge," Jack said. "We enjoy doing something different each year prior to the World's. That can range from recording a double CD, performing at concerts or travelling to other competitions."
The band has made the trip to Scotland twice before when the championships were held in Stirling and Ayr.
Jack has said that SFU has three goals this coming year and that is to travel to the British Championships, to release their Volume 2 of the bands 'On Home Ground' recordings, and to win the World's.
It has also been confirmed that Gordon Lee from Dysart & Dundonald Pipe band has now joined the drum corps of SFU. Gordon has been one of the finalists at the world solo drumming championships for the last 6 years.
It has also been reported that Calum and James Beaumont from the House of Edgar -Shotts & Dykehead have also joined the Simon Fraser University. This will make the band a formidable outfit to content with at this season's competitions.
Leapoughs Pipe Band will hold their annual variety concert at Dromore High School on Friday May 5 at 8pm.
Appearing at the concert will be the Homelanders and the Dromore Male Voice Choir. Leapoughs will also perform at the event.
On Saturday May 13 the 9th Malahide Festival of Piping and Drumming will take place at the beautiful setting of Malahide Castle.
This will be the first full outdoor competition of the 2006 season and with a big cash prize incentive; there is always a large entry for this event.
A full line-up of Irish and Scottish adjudicators will be present on the day judging every grade including Grade 1.
The first major competition of 2006 will be the Scottish Championships, which will take place in Dumbarton Scotland on Saturday May 20.
And then the first of our local competition will be held in Enniskillen under the Co. Fermanagh section on Saturday May 27.