FORWARD thinking, good organisation and the right date are some of the distinctions that go to make up the success of the Co. Down section's Full Indoor Pipe Band Championships.
Held in Banbridge High School last Saturday in conjunction with Travel Solutions, St. Kilda Scotland and Andante Percussion, this popular and unique indoor event was the brain child of secretary Mervyn Herron some years ago and just goes from strength to strength.
Thirty bands took part in what has become known as a great warm up practise for the outdoor competitions, which begin on Saturday 13th May with the Malahide Festival of Piping and Drumming.
Starting off the season in winning form was Ravara Pipe Band from Saintfield under the direction of Pipe Major Sammy Connolly and Leading Tip Aaron McCartan. They took the top trophies for both piping and drumming in Grade 2.
In Grade 4A the top honour went to Drumlough from Lisburn when they won first place under Pipe Major Ian Burrows.
The next competition will be at Malahide on 13th May. Besides a host of activities provided by the Festival, the village itself is a little haven of cafes, restaurants and shops.
The Festival has attracted the highest level of competitors since lit started in 1999. The All Ireland and ex world champions, Field Marshal Montgomery, along with other grade one bands will battle it out for top honours.
The week-end kicks off on the Friday 12th May with the solo piping competition held in St. Sylvester's GAA Club at 8.00pm
On the Saturday the main event will get under way at 12.00 with over 50 bands in all grades. Admission is free. There will also be the Drum Majors competition and Inspection, and the 2006 Malahide Festival Young Piper event at 1.30pm.
There will be face painting, Bouncy Castles and fun activities for the children all day, as well as the now famous Fingal Pull - a Tug-a-War competition for the Elite Kamino Perpetual Cup.
After the Finale and Parade from Malahide Castle to the town the first of the new Drum Fanfares event will be staged in the Diamond at 7.00pm.
The evening will finish with the Kitchen Piping competition at 8.30pm till late at Gibney's in New Street.
Rasharkin Pipe Band, who compete in Grade 4B, are looking for drummers to join them this season.
Anyone interested please contact the band on 07765210561 for more details.
Grade 4B. 1st Rasharkin (also best drums). 2nd Lisnamulligan. 3rd Dromara.
Grade 4A. 1st Drumlough. 2nd Raffrey. 3rd Matt. Boyd. 4th McNeillstown (also best drums) Grade 3B. 1st Killen (also best drums). 2nd Cottown. 3rd Aughintober.
Grade 3A. 1st Annsborough. 2nd Battlehill(also best drums). 3rd Banbridge. 4th Tamlaght O'Crilly. Grade 2. 1st Ravara (also best drums). 2nd Killeen. 3rd Cullybackey. 4th Marlacoo.
The Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA regret to learn of the death of Dickie Weir. Dickie was the Trophy Officer and Band Steward for some time for the Northern Ireland branch and had fought a long battle with illness. The sympathy of all is extended to his family and friends.