Kingdom of Mourne festival 

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

THE Kingdom of Mourne Scottish Festival incorporating the 55th Ulster Pipe Band Championships will take place in Donard Park, Newcastle on Saturday August 5.

The Pipe Band competition is an annual event in Newcastle's summer calendar and is graciously supported once again by Down District Council.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, Northern Ireland Branch has recognised the growth potential for an already well established event and this year a Festival Committee with the support of the Ulster-Scots Agency will be creating a fantastic festival atmosphere.

The event is not only aimed at stalwart pipe band supporters but especially those who have never experienced a Scottish Festival before.

Mr George Ussher, Chairman of the RSPBA Northern Ireland Branch said: "The RSPBA are very excited about the plans for the Festival as it will be an event for the whole family to enjoy, and will include a Highland Dancing Competition, an historical re-enactment by Irish Arms as well as the 55th annual Ulster Pipe Band Championship and children's activities."

He went on to say:
"Downtown Radio are planning on broadcasting a three hour show live from the Donard Park, which we are extremely pleased about and Dr. Brian Traynor from the Ulster Historical Foundation will also be on site to answer questions on genealogy.

"So if anyone would like to delve into his or her family's history, Dr Traynor would appreciate a phone call in advance of the event so that he can come armed with information. He can be reached on 9033 2288."

The competition will play host to 53 bands and over 40 drum majors all-challenging to become the 2006 Ulster Champions and will commence at the earlier time of 11.15am.

This year's North Down Pipe Band Championships were held last Saturday in Bangor and marked the second half of this year's competitions.

Many visitors packed the Castle grounds to enjoy the sights and sound of the pipe bands and drum majors.

Councillor Alan Leslie, Mayor of North Down, was Chieftain of the Day and in his message to the bands people he said:

"The championships are a firm favourite in the Council's Events Programme and bring a great day of family entertainment to Bangor to be enjoyed by competitors and supporters alike."

In Grade 1 Ballinderry Bridge took the top prize over Ballycoan who were runners up. Cullybackey won Grade 2 and the best drums award with Co. Antrim neighbour Seven Towers winning second place and best piping.

Annsborough were the victors in Grade 3A with Battlehill taking second and Banbridge the best drum corps.

Gortaclare won first place and best drums in 3B; Drumlough first in 4A with Dromara winning the drumming trophy and Killadeas first in 4B with Rasharkin taking best drums.

In the drum majors Brian Wilson was first in the senior grade with Donna Gillespie first in the juvenile.

Samantha Gordon won the junior grade and Lauren Hanna took first in the novice drum majors grade.

The rest of the 2006 pipe band championship events are: the European, which is the third of the major events, will take place in Greenock Scotland on Saturday July 29. Over 110 bands are entered for this event with many travelling over from Ulster to take part.

The Ulster Championships will be on August 5 followed by the 60th World Pipe Band Championships on Saturday August 12.

The North West competition will be held in Portrush on Saturday August 19 with the Cowal Highland Games Championships, the final of this year's major events, taking place in Dunoon Scotland on August 26.

Results of Bangor competition

Grade 1 - 1st. Ballinderry Bridge (also best drums) 2nd. Ballycoan (also M&D and best bass section) Grade 2 - 1st. Cullybackey (also best bass and best drums) 2nd. Seven Towers. 3rd. Ravara. 4th. Killeen.

Grade 3A - 1st. Annsborough (also best bass). 2nd. Battlehill (also). 3rd. Banbridge )also best drums). 4th. Tamlaght O'Crilly. Grade 3B - 1st. Gortacalre (also best bass and best drums). 2nd. Cottown. 3rd. Ballydonaghy (also M&D)

Grade 4A - 1st. Drumlough. 2nd. Dromara(also best drums). 3rd. McNeillstown: 4th. Cullenfad. Best Bass section Thiepval Memorial.

Grade 4B - 1st. Killadeas (also M&D) 2nd. Rashirkin(also best bass and best drums). 3rd. Breadv Ulster-Scots. 4th. Saintfield.

Novice Drum Majors - 1st. Lauren Hanna. 2nd. Rachael Caldwell. 3rd. Bethan Martin. 4th. Elizabeth Morrow. 5th. Lauren Abraham.

Junior - 1st. Samantha Gordon. 2nd. Lorna Robinson. 3rd. Linzi Hamilton. 4th. Kiera Wilson. 5th. Heather Bell.

Juvenile - 1st. Donna Gillespie. 2nd. Ryan Ferry. 3rd. Gemma McKinney. 4th. Emma Chambers. 5th. Jennifer Graham.

Senior - 1st. Brian Wilson. 2nd. Kathy Megarry. 3rd. Ian Young. 4th. David Brownlee. 5th. Paula Braiden.

Ulster Star