THE heavy rain put a damper on this year's Co. Down Pipe band Championships in Banbridge last Saturday.
It became so heavy the unusual decision was taken not to have the Grade 1 bands play their Medley selection as well as their March Strathspey and Reel. And it was also disappointing that the Finale had to be cancelled. Nevertheless there was some good music provided by the bands and some new names on the winning trophies.
In Grade 1 St. Laurence 0'Toole had the victory over Field Marshal Montgomery to claim the Co. Down title. Pipe Major Terry Tully must have been delighted with this result, especially with the second major-the British-this weekend. St. Laurence are the holders of the Scottish title which was the first major held this year in May. Field Marshal were runner-ups at the Co. Down championships with Cullybackey and Ballycoan 3rd and 4th respectively.
Pipe Major Sammy Connolly and Ravara pipe band made it three wins in a row when they claimed the Grade 2 title. Killeen took the runner up place. And congratulations to Southern band Arklow who took the third placing in this grade. This band has just gained promotion to Grade2 this season, and had travelled many miles to compete at the Co. Down competition.
It was a good result for Cottown Pipe Band under Pipe Major John Griffiths when they won first place in Grade 3A. This is an encouragement for the band as they prepare for the European Championships to be held in Lisburn on July 26.
McNeillstown had their first taste of success when they won the Grade 3B title beating favourites Raffrey into runner up place. Castlerock with Leading Tip Willie Wray won best drums. This is the band's second outing this year and the drum corps have won both times.
There were new names on the 4B and 4A trophies last week when Moneygore won first in 4A and Bellaghy in 4B. Both these grades have been dominated by Southern bands so far this season but now it's the turn of bands from the North to take the upper hand. Both these grades will remain very competitive I'm sure for the rest of the season.
Paula Braiden won the senior drum major's title with Jemma McKinney the juvenile, Lauren Hanna the junior and Lauren Abraham the novice.
The second of this year's five major championships will be the British, which will be held on Saturday June 28 in Cannon Hill Park Birmingham England with an entry of just over 100 bands.
Only 5 bands will be travelling over from Northern Ireland to compete at this event 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 June 28 from 8.30pm to midnight.
Dancing will be to the Manola Dance Group and admission is £5. Pay at door.
This year's All Ireland Pipe Band Championships will take place on Saturday 5th July in Ennis Co. Clare. The long journey to this venue is proving difficult for many bands but entry forms need to be in now with contest secretary Mervyn Herron
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 July 14 and Tuesday July 15.
This, the fourth running of the event, has fast 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.