THE skirl of the pipes echoed through Ward Park in Bangor last Saturday when thousands of holiday makers and pipe band supporters packed the grounds to see and hear the colourful pageant of the 57th Ulster Pipe Band Championships.
The Championships are a firm favourite in the calendar of events for the North Down Council and lived up to its promise of a great day of family entertainment for competitors and supporters alike.
Field Marshal Montgomery dominated the Grade 1 competition by winning best pipes, best drums, best bass section and the overall first placing.
Ballycoan had a good tune and took runner up place, with the visiting band - the Australia Highlanders - in third spot.
It was a good victory for Seven Towers when they won their first championship title this year on ensemble preference in Grade 2. Ravara was second and Killeen third and winners of the best drum and best bass section.
In Grade 3A it was victory for Aughintober when they won the best pipes section and the overall first placing. And Drumlough were delighted with their runner up prize in this grade, their best result this season so far. Killen were third and winners of the best drums and best bass section.
Cullenfad claimed top place in 3B followed by Castlerock, Raffrey and Augharonan.
The names on the winning trophies in 4A were Colmcille, St. Laurence Howth and Quinn Memorial. And in 4B Upper Crossgare lifted the Ulster championship title.
Winning drum majors were David Brownlee M the senior grade; Samantha Gordon juvenile grade; Lauren Hanna junior grade; and Rachel Caldwell the novice grade.
BBC Northern Ireland recorded the Ulster Championships, which will be televised in the autumn.
The 2008 World Pipe band Championships will once again return to Glasgow Green on Saturday 16th August when the battle between the international line up of pipe bands challenging for the coveted world title will take place.
Pipers and drummers from 16 different nations including Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and all over Scotland, England and Ireland will travel to Glasgow with the dream of winning the coveted world title.
The North West Championships will be held in Portrush on Saturday 23rd August with an entry of 50 pipe bands and is expected to attract 25,000 people to the 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 lots of silverware and this will give them the opportunity to show them off. The competition starts at 11.30am.
The evening before the Championships (Friday 22nd August at 7.30pm) there is a solo piping competition to take place at the Flowerfield Arts Centre 185 Coleraine Road Portstewart. Adjudicators are John Wilson and David Caldwell and the entrance is free.
Also on Friday 22nd August 'Youth in Action' will hold a solo piping and drumming contest at Kerr Street Green Portrush at 3pm.
Contact Mervyn Herron 07702 681189 for details of entry. The curtain comes down on the final pipe band competition of the year with the Cowal Highland Games taking place in Dunoon Scotland 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
Dates for your Diary.
* The annual "Gig'n the Bann" event will be on Saturday 6th September in the Playing Fields Portglenone Community Centre commencing at 1 pm.
*The Celtic Thistle Festival of Piping and Drumming incorporating the solo piping and drumming championships will take place on Friday the 12th and Saturday the 13th September in Monkstown Community School Newtownabbey.
*The All Ireland Solos will be held on 20th September in Rathfriland High School. Entries are in the post now and close on 30th August.