BALLYDONAGHY Pipe Band celebrated their 60th anniversary recently at a special dinner where many of the interesting facts of those years were given in a brief history of the band.
The was formed in 1946 by Tony McCloy and James Ingram but the full band only held their first parade on July 12 in 1948.
As the band began in earnest back in 1948, a Scotsman affectionately known as 'Jock' Cairns, came to live in the townland of Ballydonaghy. Jock became involved in the band from the beginning and his advice and sound judgement was to last throughout his lifetime, which sadly came to an end in December 1997. One of the longest serving members of the band is Randal Stewart who came in 1947 and has been with it ever since serving as Pipe Major for a while and now as its present chairman.
Andy Pinkerton joined in 1953 and he was followed by his brother Winston who was Pipe Major for 31 years from 1965 to 1996.
Ballydonaghy took part in many events apart from competitions and they included:-Remembrances Day Parades; Scotch Nights at Belfast Intercontinental Hotel; Lord Mayors Shows; opening of the Stock Car Track, Nutts Corner, Crumlin; Tug-of-War world championships at the Antrim Forum; the European Amateur Boxing championships; European Cup night at the Oval; Houses of Parliament; Ulster Scots tour of Italy and France in 2001;opening of the Odyssey in Belfast, and playing at Lansdowne Road Ireland v Scotland rugby match in 2004.
Many successful pipers and drummers have graced the ranks of Ballydonaghy over the years including Ashley McMichael who twice won the Ulster Junior Piping competition, and in 2007 became the Northern Ireland Piper of the Year.
Neil Pinkerton and Neil Ussher have both numerous solo drumming titles to their credit and Keith Bowes holds the rank of Pipe Major of Grade 2 Johnstone Pipe Band based outside Glasgow.
Members of Ballydonaghy Pipe Band have also had close involvement with the RSPBA over many years both at local and national levels.
George Ussher is Chairman of the Northern Ireland branch and Winston Pinkerton Vice Chairman with George also holding the prestigious position of President of the RSPBA.
Hopefully there will be many more interesting events and successes for Ballydonaghy in the future.
A most enjoyable evening of entertainment was held last Friday in Armagh when the Co. Armagh Drum Majors, under the leadership of Drum Major Andrea McKeown, hosted their fund raising concert.
Appearing on the stage was the Pride of Birches Accordion Mini Band, who have given over 56 performances so far this year, Irish dancers, singers, Moneygore Pipe Band, solo piper Scott Wallace, currently the Seven Towers solo junior champion, and winner of the Glenarm Highland Games in both junior and intermediate grades, and Killeen Pipe Band who are the current All Ireland Grade 2 champions.
Speaking at the end of the evening Drum Major Andrea McKeown, who has been teaching the class for 12 years now after taking over the reins from Mark Uprichard who was the person instrumental in forming the Co. Armagh drum majors classes some 20 years ago, said that she was delighted in the progress of the class which had gone from strength to strength. She has seen her pupils win World, All Ireland, British and Ulster championship titles and thanked each one of them for their dedication and hard work over the year. 4 If anyone would be interested in joining this successful class they will be made very welcome. They 'e meet every Monday evening between 6 and 8 o'clock at the Church of Ireland hall at the Dobbin