AT the conclusion of the 11th Ulster Festival of Piping and Drumming, incorporating the third annual Northern Ireland Solo Piping and Solo Drumming Championships and supported by Newtownabbey Council, guest Scottish adjudicators were straightforward in their praise for the event promoters - the Competing Soloists' Organisation.
They remarked on the professionalism of the organising and running of the event itself and commented favourably on the continued efforts of the CSO in helping nurture, develop and enhance the skills oft the solo performers.
The Championships, in Monkstown School, attracted 120 entries to compete in the nineteen different competitions.
Continuing the 'International' flavour, this year entrants came from the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England, France and Canada as well as from Northern Ireland.
In rewarding the players at this third Northern Ireland Championships, and in addition to the monetary prize fund of almost £700.00, perpetual trophies and the customary winners' Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were presented.
The CSO were indebted to sponsors including McCallum Bagpipes, Kilmarnock, The National Piping Centre, Glasgow David Naill & Co. Ltd; Bowes Bags Ltd., Inchinnan, The Pipers Cave, Cookstown and Andante Percussion, Rathfriland.
Since 2001, a feature of the Festival has been awarding 'The CSO Silver Quaich' to those who, in the opinion of the CSO committee, should be recognised for meritorious services to solo pipers and solo drummers.
This year this beautiful trophy was presented posthumously to Freddie Russell, a highly respected and regarded piper and piping tutor. The trophy was handed over to Mrs Margaret Russell by one of Freddie's star pupils - Brian Martin - an outstanding solo piper and former Pipe Sergeant of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band. In accepting the award on her late husband's behalf Mrs Russell said that it was an honour for Freddie to be recognised in this way.
History was also created with some 'firsts' - particularly from the few female competitors. Julie Brown from Campbeltown playing in her first adult solo competition won the Junior piping grade; Andrea Boyd from Nova Scotia Canada finished runner up in the overall senior piping and Lee Lawson, from Northern Ireland and now living in Argyll, became the first female to win an overall senior drumming championship title.
The senior piping Northern Ireland champion was Andrew Carlisle from Ballygowan, who won first place in the March Strathspey and Reel and the Hornpipe and Jig.
Class B Piobaireachd - 1st. Grahame Harris. 2nd. Sean Maher. 3rd. Andrea Cooney.
Open Piobaireachd - 1st. Andrew Carlisle. 2nd. Andrea Boyd. 3rd. Jonathan Greenlees.
Novice Chanter - 1st. Scott Barr. 2nd. Hugh O'Donnell. 3rd. Joshua Truesdale.
Advanced Chanter - 1st. John O'Donnell. 2nd. Dale Fisher. 3rd. Alison Sharp.
Under 12 piping - 1st. Robert Green. 2nd. Adam Fitts.
Under 18 B Piping - 1st. Joshua McKee. 2nd. Ross Hume. 3rd. Scott Wallace.
Under 18 A Piping - 1st. Grahame Harris. 2nd. Jemma Redmond. 3rd. Jonathan Lamberton.
Junior Piping - 1st. Julie Blue. 2nd. Philip Tasker. 3rd. Alastair Murray.
Intermediate Piping - 1st. Kevin Rogers. 2nd. Conor McCallion. 3rd. Michelle Redmond.
Senior Piping MSR - 1st. Andrew Carlisle. 2nd. Glenn Cupples. 3rd. Andrea Boyd.
Hornpipe and Jig - 1st. Andrew Carlisle. 2nd. Andrea Boyd. 3rd. Andrew Shilliday.
Overall senior piping - Northern Ireland Champion -1st. Andrew Carlisle. 2nd.Andrea Boyd. 3rd. Jonathan Greenlees.
Novice Drum Pad - 1st. Andrew Bennett. 2nd. William Dowie. 3rd. Andrew Thompson.
Advanced Drum Pad - 1st. Kyle Black. 2nd. Renwick Sharp. 3rd. Dean Bingham
Under 18 B drumming - 1st. Blake McVeigh. 2nd. John Herron. 3rd. Jack Finn.
Under 18 A drumming - 1st. Stephen Paynter. 2nd. Gareth McLees.
Junior -1st. Sean Moloney. 2nd. John Stewart.
Intermediate - 1st. Chris Johnston.
Senior MSR - 1st. Lee Lawson. 2nd. Gavin Noade.
Senior Hornpipe and Jig - 1st. Lee Lawson. 2nd. Gavin Noade.
Senior Drumming Overall Northern Ireland Champion - 1st. Lee Lawson. 2nd. Gavin Noade.