THE fifth and final major pipe band championships took place last Saturday with the Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon. Only five bands from Northern Ireland made the journey over to Scotland, in what used to be one of the main highlights in the piping calendar for Ulster bands.
The battle for supremacy in Grade 1 between the North and South of Ireland bands, resulted in a victory for Field Marshal Montgomery - but just on ensemble preference. St.Laurence O'Tle, winners of the Scottish and British titles, claimed the overall champion of champion's trophy for the first time in the band's history. But is was a very close run fight with Field Marshal winning the European title and then the Cowal title, but in the end when the points were added up, the coveted trophy went to St.Laurence who have had their most successful season under Pipe Major Terry Tully.
No other Ulster bands featured in the prize list, but world champion drum major Brian Wilson lifted the Cowal Championships title, with Linzi Hamilton from Killeen winning the Juvenile one.
The annual 'Gig'n the Bann' event will be on Saturday September 6 in the Playing Fields Portglenone Community Centre commencing at 1pm.
The Ulster Grade 2 champions -Seven Towers - will be competing along with Ravara who were runner up at this year's world championships. Several other bands will also be making an appearance at the Festival. Adjudicators at this event will be selected from experienced pipers and drummers from the audience.
The Celtic Thistle Festival of Piping and Drumming incorporating the solo piping and drumming championships will take place on Friday September 12 and Saturday September 13 in Monkstown Community School Newtownabbey.
This year's festival and championships, under a new title, will be the twelfth annual event organised and promoted by the Competing Soloists Organisation. With the introduction of a Beginners Grade for new players, irrespective of age or playing standard, it is hoped that increased numbers will become involved.
Another innovative and new idea is the inclusion of solo competitions for tenor and bass drum players.
With an increased prize fund of approaching £2000 for more senior grade competitors, the 2008 Celtic Thistle solo championships should prove to be both stimulating and rewarding for the dedicated solo player.
The All Ireland Solos will be held on September 20 in Rathfriland High School. Entries are now closed but if anyone still requires a form or further information then please contact Mervyn Herron on 02840624849 or 07702 681189.
There will be meetings of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA on Saturday September 27 and Saturday October 25 commencing at 2pm in the Trinity Methodist Church Hall Knockmore Road Lisburn.
The Annual General Meeting of the branch is on Saturday November 8 starting at 11.00am. Please note this date, as this is a very important meeting for all band representatives. The world solo drumming championships are scheduled for Saturday October 25 at the Glasgow Caledonia University Glasgow. For further information contact RSPBA Headquarters on 01412215414
Grade 4B - 1st. Stockbridge. 2nd. Stamperland. 3rd. Burntisland & District. (Plus Best Drums). 4th. Dunoon Argyll. 5th. Fraserburgh. 6th. Denny & Dunipace
Grade 4A - 1st. Black Bottle Isle of Islay. 2nd. Belgian Blend. (Plus best drums). 3rd. Badenoch and Strathspey. 4th. Royal Burgh of Stirling. 5th. Buchan. 6th. Newtowngrange.
Grade 3B - 1st. Concord. (Also best drums). 2nd. Pipes and Drums of Central Scotland Police. 3rd. Methil & District. 4th. Ayr Pipe Band Society. 5th. Kirkcaldy & District. 6th.Troon & District.
Grade 3A - 1st Mackenzie Caledonia. 2nd. Clydeback. 3rd. Lanark & District. 4th. Deeside Caledonia. (Also best drums). 5th.Williamwood. 6th. Pitlochry & Blair Atholl
Grade 2 - 1st. Torphichen & Bathgate. 2nd. Dumfries & Gallaway. (Also best drums) 3rd. Lomond & Clyde. 4th. Phoenix Honda Glasgow Skye. 5th. Grampian Police. 6th. Mauchline & District Caledonia.
Grade 1 - 1st. Field Marshal Montgomery. (Ensemble Preference) 2nd. St.Laurence O'Toole. 3rd. Shotts & Dykehead. (Also best drums) 4th. Boghall & Bathgate. 5th. Strathclyde Police. (Ensemble Preference) 6th. Scottish Power.
Senior Drum Majors - 1st. Brian Wilson. 2nd. Paula Braiden. 3rd. Kathy Megarry-Calvin. 4th. G.Criag. 5th. W. Jordan. 6th. C.Hall.
Juvenile - 1st. Linzi Hamilton. 2nd. Samantha Gordon. 3rd. A.Symon. 4th. Elizabeth Sloan. 5th. C.Brown. 6th. K. Franssen
Junior - 1st. I. Burns. 2nd. L.Abraham. 3rd. E. Barr. 4th. R. Caldwell. 5th. B.Martin. 6th. K. Renton.
Grade 1 - St.Laurence O'Toole. Drums. House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead. Grade 2 - Torphichen & Bathgate also drums.
Grade 3A - Mackenzie Caledonia. Drums. Clydebank.
Grade 3B - Pipes and Drums of Central Scotland Police also drums.
Grade 4A - Black Bottle Isle of Islay also drums.
Grade 4B - Stockbridge also drums.