THERE were celebrations for the Seven Towers Pipe band from Ballymena and Battlehill Pipe Band from Co. Armagh when they were announced the 2006 European Pipe Band Champions last Saturday in Greenock Scotland.
The day of torrential rain that caused even the Finale to be cancelled did not dampen the spirit of Ulster bands as they claimed five European pipe band championship titles as well as three championships titles from our drum majors.
Seven Towers, under Pipe Major David Reid and Leading Tip Stephen Purvis, won the championship drumming trophy and the first place prize in Grade 2. This is a marvellous achievement for the band in their first year in this grade.
Battlehill, with Pipe Major Mark Faloon, lifted the overall first place trophy in Grade 3A. This band has been in the top prizes all season and must give them confidence for the world title in August.
Gortaclare in Grade 3B won the drumming title under Leading Tip Willie Wray and Rasharkin under Leading Tip Adrian Watt won best drum corps in Grade 4B.
Field Marshal Montgomery finished in runner up place in spite of winning two first place scores in piping in Grade 1. This grade was won by Strathclyde Police with St.Laurence O'Toole from Dublin taking fifth placing.
Other winners at the European championships include Killeen who took third and Cullybackey fifth in Grade 2; Gortaclare third in 3B; Raffrey fourth in 4A and Rasharkin third in 4B.
Paula Braiden was crowned European senior drum major champion, with Donna Gillespie the juvenile champion and Samantha Gordon the junior champion.
Next week, August 5, the 55th Ulster Pipe Band Championships will take place in Donard Park Newcastle commencing at 11.15am.
Entitled the 'Scottish Festival', the day will be an event for the whole family to enjoy and will include a dancing competition, and an historical re-enactment by Irish Arms as well as the pipe band competition.
Also if anyone is interested in delving into their family's history Dr Brian Traynor from the Ulster Historical Foundation will be on site to answer questions on genealogy. He would appreciate a phone call in order that he can come with the necessary information. He can be reached on 9033 2288.
August 12 will see years of commitment, passion and enthusiasm coming together for the 60th anniversary of the World Pipe Band Championships.
Around 236 bands will compete for the top accolade in piping - the world championship crown. It will be held at Glasgow Green, Scotland and will commence at 9.00am with the Finale planned for 5.00pm.
The last of the local competitions will be the North West Championships held in Portrush on Saturday August 19.
The Cowal Championships will complete the 2006 major events and will take place in Dunoon, Argyll on Saturday August 26. Also included will be the world highland dancing championships, as well as a heavy athletics competition.
Grade 1 - 1st. Strathclyde Police. 2nd. Field Marshal Montgomery. 3rd. Vale of Atholl. 4th. House of Edgar-Shotts (also drumming). 5th. St.Laurence O'Toole. 6th. Scottish Power.
Grade 2 - 1st. Seven Towers (also drumming). 2nd. Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. 3rd. Killeen. 4th. Torphichen & Bathgate. 5th. Cullybackey. 6th. 52nd Lowland Regiment.
Grade 3A - 1st. Battlehill. 2nd. Gaelic College. 3rd. Denny & Dunipace. 4th. Linlithgow & District. 5th. Coalburn. 6th. City of Edinburgh. Best Drums Bo' ness RBLS.
Grade 3B - 1st. William wood. 2nd. Royal Burgh of Annan. 3rd. Gortaclare (also best drums). 4th. Rothesay & District. 5th. Ayr Pipe Band Society. 6th. GSPC Milngavie.
Grade 4A - 1st. University of Strathclyde. 2nd. Tweedvale. 3rd. City of Brechin. 4th. Raffrey. 5th. Kilsyth Thistle (also best drums). 6th. Kirkcudbright Maclellan.
Grade 4B - 1st. Grampian Corby. 2nd. Kirkcaldy. 3rd. Rasharkin (also best drums). 4th. Badenoch & Strathspey. 5th. Two,, Blackrock. 6th .Clydebank.
Senior Drum Majors - 1st. Paula Braiden. 2nd. Alistair Patterson. 3rd. Brian Wilson. 4th. Kathy Megarry. 5th. K. MacHeffner.
Juvenile - 1st. Donna Gillespie. 2nd. Ryan Ferry. 3rd. Elizabeth Sloan. 4th. C.Clydesdale. 5th. J. Clydesdale.
Junior - 1st. Samantha Gordon. 2nd. Linzi Hamilton. 3rd. A.Symon. 4th. R.Renton. 5th. C.Clydesdale.