THE Pipe Bands returned once again to Ballyclare last Saturday for the East Antrim Championships.
The competition in Ballyclare began 55 years ago at Dixon Park on the 23rd May 1953 in conjunction with the Ballyclare Recreation Association and the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA. From 1958 Newtownabbey Borough Council took over the organisational role and will celebrate their golden anniversary this year.
Ballycoan took the top honours in Grade 1 with Cullybackey in runner up place. Ravara continued their winning form by coming top in Grade 2 as well as the best drum section.
Cottown came tops in Grade 3A and are putting in a strong bid for supremacy in this grade, but Howard Memorial and Aughintober are close behind in their challenge for top.
In Grade 3B Raffrey returned to winning form and took the 1st place in the grade. Castlerock won both the best drums and best bass section.
The last of the five Co. Down bands to dominate the grades was Cleland Memorial in Grade 4B with the Co. Donegal band Manorcunningham winning top place in their grade of 4A. Syerla won best drums and best bass section.
Only four more competitions remain for the 2008 programme of events. The Ulster Championships will be held at the new venue of Ward Park, Bangor this Saturday, 9th August, and will be seen as a curtain raiser to the World Championships, which will be held in Glasgow on Saturday 16th August. This is the biggest championships in the pipe band calendar and one every band works hard for all year to win. The Ulster Championships at Ward Arras attached to Ward Park in Bangor will attract about 60 bands. They will include special guests, the New Zealand Police Pipe Band and the Australia Highlanders, and the whole event will be recorded by the BBC Northern Ireland to be screened later in the year.
The North West Championships will once again be held in Portrush and is expected to attract 25,000 people to this popular seaside town. It is an event eagerly looked forward to with the carnival atmosphere of the parade of pipe bands through the town with all their trophies. Hopefully many of our bands and drum majors will have returned from the World Championships with silverware and this will give them the opportunity to show them off.
The curtain comes down on the final pipe band competition of the year with the Cowal Highland Games taking place in Dunoon on Saturday 30th August which is the last of the big five major championships of the season. A summer school will be held in the Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart from 19th to 22nd August. This will include tuition in piping, drumming, dancing and drum majoring. Anyone interested should contact the RSPBA Northern Ireland branch at 32a Batchelors Walk Lisburn BT28 1XN telephone 9267 0445.
Grade 1 1st. Ballycoan (also best drums and best bass). 2nd. Cullybackey.
Grade 2 1st. Ravara (also best drums and M&D). 2nd.Killeen. 3rd.Seven Towers. 4th. Annsborough (best bass)
Grade 3A 1st. Cottown. 2nd.Howard Mem. 3rd.Aughintober. 4th.Killen(also best bass and best drums)
Grade 3B 1st. Raffrey. 2nd. Cullenfad. 3rd. Castlerock (also best drums and best bass). 4th.Augharonan.
Grade 4A 1st, Manorcunningham. 2nd.Quinn Mem. 3rd. Matt Boyd. 4th.Moneygore.
Best Drums and Best Bass won by Syerla & District.
Grade 4B 1st. Cleland Mem. 2nd. Ballyboley. 3rd.Thiepval (also best drums). 4th.Closkelt. Best Bass won by Tullintrain.
Novice Drum Majors 1st. Lauren Abraham. 2nd. Rachel Caldwell. 3rd. Bethan Martin. 4th. Zoe McDowell. 5th. Lauren McKeown.
Junior 1st. Lauren Hanna. 2nd.Steven Gilchrist. 3rd.Victoria Catterson. 4th.Lauren Muldrew. 5th. Elizabeth Morrow.
Juvenile 1st. Samantha Gordon. 2nd. Linzi Hamilton. 3rd. Jemma McKinney. 4th.Gary Scanlon. 5th.Heather Bell.
Senior 1st. Kathy Megarry Calvin. 2nd. Ryan Ferry. 3rd. David Brownlee. 4th. Paula Braiden. 5th.Andrea McKeown