THE 59th Ulster Solo Piping and Drumming Championships were held last Saturday in Monkstown Community School, where over 120 drummers and pipers competed for the Ulster title.
The competition was organised by Mervyn Herron, Contest Administrator, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA, and it was an excellent event well attended by supporters and competitors alike.
Putting a new name on the winning trophy this year was Men Tully from the St.Laurence O'Toole Pipe band from Dublin. Men is the son of Terry Tully who was also a top class solo piper, and who is the Pipe Major of the Grade 1 St.Laurence band.
Two pipers from the Field Marshal Montgomery band, Jonathan Greenlees and Andrew Carlisle (who was last year's winner), took the second and third place prizes.
Chris McNicholl from Comber who now plays with the Grade 1 Strathclyde Police Pipe band was the overall winner of the senior drumming championships. Gavin Noade was runner up and Philip Bell (last year's winner) took the third placing.
The draw for the Scottish major pipe band championships, which will take place on Saturday May 24 in Dumbarton Scotland, has now been released.
Seventeen bands will travel over from Northern Ireland to compete at this event including Seven Towers who will be defending their Scottish championship title.
Bradley Parker, who pipes with Cottown Pipe Band, continued on his winning way last weekend when he won the overall junior championship title at the Kintyre Piping Society event held in Campbeltown.
To win the John D. Burgess gold metal Bradley won first place in the Piobaireachd, the 2/4 Marches, Strathspey and Reel and slow air and took a third place also in the march.
In the 30-year history of the Kintyre Piping Society's competitions, Bradley scored the highest points ever of any previous competitor in the competition since it commenced. An amazing achievement for this talented 11 year old from Portavogie.
The Grade 1 Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band will be appearing in concert on Friday June 6 in Lame. The band, which used to be known as the Edinburgh Police Pipe band, is one of the world's oldest pipe bands and is now under the direction of their new Pipe Major Davy Barnes. The Leading Tip is Arthur Cook.
Pipe Major Barnes said: "This will be an excellent opportunity to showcase some new material we have been working on and as far as I'm aware, although the band has a long and successful history, it will be the first time it has ever put on a show of this type." The concert will run in conjunction with the Lame Borough Council and will launch the Lame Alive Festival in the month of June. Tickets are now on sale for this event costing £10, and as admittance is by ticket (wily, it would be advisable to get them as Von as possible as there will be great interest in hearing this band performing at their first concert in Northern Ireland. Contact Lorraine McVeigh on 07870 389874 or 0289146 6028
Drum Major Brian Wilson recently travelled to New Zealand to compete at the New Zealand Pipe Band Championships. A delayed flight and a lost mace (which turned up a week later) meant he missed the only major lead up competition prior to the New Zealand Championships.
Brian was asked to help out the Royal New Zealand Navy Pipe Band at the Searchlight Tattoo in Rotorua. The tattoo had participating bands from all three of the New Zealand defence forces as well as the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, the Royal Netherlands Military Police Band, the Tasmanian Police Pipe Band, the Auckland Police Pipe band along with several civilian Brass and pipe bands.
Having never participated in a military tattoo previously, Brian found the experience very interesting and exciting.
The New Zealand Championships were run over 2 days with the Staff Flourishing Eliminations and the Drum Majors championship which were based around the street march competition where all drum majors are judged on deportment, voice commands, presentation, and mace control Having nearly faultless performances in both the Staff and Drum Majors championships events, Brian was named New Zealand champion for both events. This was the first time in 14 years that one competitor had won both events at the same competition.
Brian was also one of seven drum majors who travelled to California last weekend to represent Ulster at the Sacramento Valley Scottish Games and Festival. This season is proving to be a very exciting and challenging one for him.