ONLY eight pipe bands and drum majors from Northern Ireland went to this year's Cowal Championships in Dunoon Scotland, but they still succeeded in winning the top two grades in piping and all three grades in drum majoring.
Field Marshal took the title in Grade 1, which also gave them this year's champion of champions award. The band tied on points with Shotts but took the title on ensemble preference.
In Grade 2 Cullybackey romped home with points to spare over Seven Towers who were runners up. These two bands have dominated the championships in Scotland this season and will most likely be promoted to the top Grade 1 next year.
In drum majoring Paula Braiden won the senior title with Ryan Ferry the juvenile and Lauren Abraham the junior one.
The only other band to gain a prize at Cowal was the Dr. Wright Memorial who won fourth place in Grade 4B. The Cowal Highland Gathering was held over August 23, 24 and 25 in Dunoon. On the Friday the annual solo piping event for both juniors and seniors took place. This year 10-year-old Bradley Parker from Portavogie, who pipes with Cottown Pipe Band, was successful in winning the under 15 Piobaireachd section. This grade had an entry of 21 young pipers and Bradley produced a super tune to beat all his opponents and claim the title
A couple of years ago the Competing Soloists' Organisation promoted a special invitational event for solo pipers. The purpose was to invite the youngest soloists who had been included in prize lists at other solo competitions to a 'play off' for the 'Young Player of the Year' title.
As the event proved to be extremely popular with both the young competitors and their families, it has quickly become an annual promotion.
The 2007 competitions, run in association with Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council's 'Return of the Earls' programme, will be held on Friday September 7.
The venue will once again be the clubrooms of Dungannon Swifts Football Club (kindly granted) at Ranfurly Road, Dungannon where the first competitor will take to 'the boards' at 7pm. It is pleasing to note that a good response has been realised in both age groups with entrants from Arklow, Dublin and Tipperary in the Republic of Ireland as well as from all parts of Northern Ireland.
Each young competitor's performance will be keenly scrutinised by guest adjudicator Mr Alastair Dunn, formerly from Newtownards but now working and residing in Glasgow.
Alastair is a Gold and Silver Medal winner among numerous other accolades in the solo piping world. He is currently Pipe Sergeant of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band - the six times Grade 1 World Champions. After his judging duties, and if time permits, Alastair will demonstrate his own considerable talents by performing a short recital which all piping enthusiasts will enjoy.
In appreciation of their support of these competitions, the Competing Soloists' Organisation records its gratitude to the Management and Staff of Dungannon Swifts Football Club and the 'Return of the Earls' Committee in Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council.
All in all, this promises to be a very enjoyable and entertaining evening of highland bagpipe music.
This year's "Gig'n The Bann" cross community Music and Dance Festival will take place from September 6-9 at Portglenone, Co. Antrim.
The Pipe Band competition will be held on the Saturday at the Playing Fields Portglenone Community Centre starting at 1pm.
The European and Scottish Grade 2 champions - Seven Towers Pipe Band -
will be appearing in concert at the Wild Duck Factory on the Saturday at 8.30pm
Further details on all the events over the week-end can be obtained by visiting www.gignthebann.com
Grade I - 1st. F. M. Montgomery (8) 2nd. House of Edgar-Shotts (plus drumming) (8) 3rd. Boghall & Bathgate (12) 4th. St. Laurence O'Toole (14) 5th. Strathclyde Police (18) 6th. Scottish Power (28)
Grade 2 - 1st. Cullybackey (plus drumming) (5). 2nd. Seven Towers (17) 3rd. Buchan (20) 4th.Torphichen & Bathgate (21) 5th. Phoenix Honda Glasgow Skye (23) 6th. Dumfries & Galloway (26)
Grade 3A - 1st. William wood (12). 2nd. MacKenzie Caledonia (13). 3rd. Pitrochry & Blair Athol! (14). 4th.Johnstone (plus drumming) (16). 5th. Kintyre Schools (25). 6th. Beeston(25)
Grade 3B - 1st. Greater Manchester Fire Service (10). 2nd. Lanark (plus drumming)(13). 3rd. Cumnock (14). 4th. City of Brechin (14). 5th. Methill & District (24). 6th Ayr Pipe Band Society (24).
Grade 4A - 1st. Manor Cunningham (14). 2nd. Kirkcaldy (17). 3rd. Duns (20). 4th. Royal Burgh of Stirling (20). 5th.Troon Black-rock (20). 6th. Kirkudbright (21)
Grade 4B - 1st. Belgian Blend (plus drumming)(10). 2nd. Black Bottle of Islay (17). 3rd. Badenoch & Strathspey (17). 4th. Dr: Wright Memorial (18). 5th. East Kilbride (19). 6th. Lanark & District (19)
Senior Drum Majors - 1st. Paula Braiden. 2nd. C. Gillies. 3rd. Brian Wilson. 4th. A. Morton. 5th. W.Jordon. 6th. G. Craig.
Juvenile - 1st. Ryan Ferry. 2nd. A. Symon. 3rd. C. Brown. 4th. C. Clydesdale. 5th. S. Gordon. 6th. L.Hamilton.
Junior - 1st. L. Abraham. 2nd. I. Burns. 3rd. G. Scanlon. 4th. C. Clydesdale. 5th. M. McKinney.
Grade 1 - 1st. F. M. Montgomery. Best Drums - Boghall & Bathgate.
Grade 2 - 1st. Seven Towers. Best Drums - Cullybackey.
Grade 3A - 1st. Annsborough. Best Drums - Beeston & District.
Grade 3B - 1st. Lanark & District plus best drums.
Grade 4A - 1st. Cullenfad. Best Drums - Kirkcudbright
Grade 4B - 1st. East Kilbride. Best Drums - Burntisland & District.