THE 54th Annual Mid-Ulster Pipe Band and Drum Majors Championships took place last Saturday at Cookstown High School with an entry of 49 bands and 50 drum majors.
Scottish Champions St.Laurence O'Toole from Dublin had a worthwhile trip up North and won best pipes, best bass best drums and the overall first placing in Grade 1 under their Pipe Major Terry Tully.
Sammy Connolly's Ravara Pipe Band took all the prizes in Grade 2 by winning best pipes, best drums best bass Marching & Deportment and the top first place.
In Grade 3A Killen with Pipe Major Robert Burke were the winners with Aughintober claiming best pipes and the runner up spot. Raffrey continue their winning form under Pipe Major Frances Strain, and added the Mid-Ulster title to their growing collection in Grade 3B. McNeillstown took best pipes and runner up place, with Castlerock securing best drums and best bass section in this grade.
Two bands from Donegal are dominating the lower 4A and 4B grades with the Grade 4A title won once again by Manorcunningham with Bready Ulster Scots taking the drumming awards, and Thiepval Memorial winning 4B.
Saturday 21st June is the date for the Co. Down Pipe Band Championships. 55 bands are entered for this event, which will be held at Banbridge Academy. Adjudicators are H.Stevenson, M.MacKenzie, L.Ingram and Pollock for piping; G.Craig and S.Steele for drumming and C.Mordaunt and J.Baxter for ensemble.
Then from 6 to 10pm, following the competition, the Ulster-Scots agency will present the 'Gig at the Brig' in Havelock Park, Banbridge. Artists appearing are the Stonewall Folk Group, Kintra and Parcel of Rogues.
There will be a Bar and hot food available and the admission is free.
The second of this year's five major championships will be the British, which will be on Saturday 28th June in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham with an entry of just over 100 bands.
Only five bands will be travelling from Northern Ireland to compete with Field Marshal, Cullybackey and Ballycoan in Grade 1 and Aughintober in Grade 3A, and Castlerock in Grade 3B.
Cottown Pipe band will be hosting an 'Old Tyme Supper Dance' in the Stevenson Memorial Hall, Six Road Ends, Bangor on Saturday 28th June 2008 from 8.30 to midnight. Dancing will be to the Manola Dance Group and admission is £5. Pay at door.
The Competing soloists Organisation (CSO) will again promote its solo piping and drumming competitions as part of the festivities at Glenarm Castle Highland Games on Monday 14th July and Tuesday 15th July. This, the fourth running of the event, has become an annual promotion. Set in the picturesque grounds of the Earl of Antrim's estate at Glenarm Castle, the competitions take place in a true highland games atmosphere and are very much looked forward to by the young soloist as one of their favourite events.
The grades are under 12 years, over 12-under 15years, over 15-under 18 years, Grade 1 1 1 (junior) and Grade 11(Intermediate) for both piping and drumming. The first two grades will run on Monday with all other grades on Tuesday. The rules and entry forms have been distributed to registered soloists, but if anyone would like a copy of these contact Samuel Lawson, 8 Annaghanoon Road, Waringstown, Craigavon, BT66 7RZ tel. 3882 0374. Closing date for entries is Monday 30th June.
An added addition at this year's event will be championship-winning drummers Mark Wilson and Lee Lawson. Mark and Lee have played with performers such as Van Morrison, Phil Coulter and Peter Corry.