ON one of the warmest days this year over 24,000 visitors packed the Co. Down resort of Newcastle with its magnificent setting of Donard Park behind the majestic Mourne Mountains.
It was a day to please all the family with the 55th Ulster Pipe Band Championships taking place along with Scottish Country dancing as well as fun for all the children.
In Grade 1 it was another Ulster championship victory for Field Marshal Montgomery when they won best pipes, best drums, best MSR, best Medley and the first overall placing. This is the sixteenth time that Field Marshal have won the Ulster title and to date no local band has come within challenging distance of them.
In Grade 4A local band Drumlough under the direction of Pipe Major Ian Burrows had a resounding victory to win the title as well as taking the best piping trophy.
In Grade 2 Ravara took runner up place and tied with Seven Towers who won the grade, and Cullybackey on piping. They also won the best drum corps section and the marching and deportment trophies. Ian Young from Ravara also got the winning verdict in the senior drum majoring event.
Other winners at the Ulster Championships were Annsborough in 3A; Cottown in 3B and Killadeas in 4B.
Next week the 60th World Pipe Band Championships will take place at Glasgow Green Scotland where 236 bands and 65 drum majors will compete for the coveted title of champion of the world.
This is the competition everyone works hard for and dreams of winning. Hopefully a lot of the silver ware will come back to Ulster as all of our local bands and drum majors will travel over to take part in these championships.
The final local event of the year will be the North West Pipe Band Championships, which will take place in the popular seaside town of Portrush on Saturday August 19.
On Friday August 18 there will be an invitational solo piping contest in the Catering College Portrush at 7.30pm. There will also be a parade of drum majors on August 18 led by Grade 2 European Champions Seven Towers Pipe Band. It will commence at the Comfort Hotel and march to Barry's amusements where the band will give a short recital.
And the final major championship of the season will be the famous Cowal Highland Gathering at Dunoon Scotland.
Tributes have been paid recently to Jim Henderson on his remarkable achievement of piping for 60 years with Trillick Pipe Band.
Jim has made a significant contribution to the band over its 60-year history and is the only remaining founder member within its ranks. He is at present Pipe Sergeant and has been secretary and treasurer to the band since it was formed
A member of the RSPBA Northern Ireland branch since it commenced over 40 years ago, he has been a faithful supporter of pipe bands in Fermanagh and has been the Co. Fermanagh president since 1984.
His commitment and dedication is an example to all and it is hoped that he will continue to enjoy the health and strength to pipe for many more years to come.
Grade 1 - 1st. Field Marshal Montgomery (also best pipes and best drums). 2nd. St. Laurence O'Toole (also best bass section). 3rd. Ballycoan. 4th. Bleary & District. (also M&D).
Grade 2 - 1st. Seven Towers (also best bass section) 2nd. Ravara. (also best drums & M&D) 3rd. Cullybackey. These three bands tied for best pipes. 4th. Killeen.
Grade 3A - 1st. Annsborough (best drums and best bass section) 2nd. Battlehill. 3rd. Altnaveigh. 4th. Banbridge.
Grade 3B - 1st. Cottown (also best pipes) 2nd. Killen (also best bass section) 3rd. Aughintober. 4th. Ballydonaghy (also best drums & M&D).
Grade 4A - 1st. Drumlough (also best pipes) 2nd. Dromara. 3rd. Cullybackey. 4th. Raffrey (also M&D) Best drums and best bass section to St. Laurence Howth.
Grade 4B - 1st. Killadeas (also best pipes and best bass section) 2nd. Rasharkin (best drum corps) 3rd. Bready. 4th. Antrim.
Senior Drum Majors - 1st. Ian Young. 2nd. Kathy Megarry. 3rd. Alistair Patterson. 4th. Brian Wilson. 5th. Alicia Dickson.
Juvenile - 1st. Ryan Ferry. 2nd. Donna Gillespie. 3rd. Emma Chambers. 4th. Lemma Clydesdale. 5th. Jennifer Graham.
Junior - 1st. Linzi Hamilton. 2nd. Samantha Gordon. 3rd. Gary Scanlon. 4th. Kiera Wilson. 5th. Lorna Robinson. Novice - 1st. Lauren Abraham. 2nd. Lauren Hanna. 3rd. Emma Barr. 4th. Bethan Martin. 5th. Elizabeth Morrow.