IT was another splendid afternoon of piping and drumming last Saturday, when the annual indoor pipe band championships were held in Banbridge High School.
The event organised by the Co. Down section of the RSPBA was once again an outstanding success.
This competition, the only one of its kind, owes much of its popularity to the untiring efforts of Secretary Mervyn Herron and National council member Kenny Crothers.
In the first try out of full bands in the new season, Upper Crossgare, under the leadership of Pipe Major Trevor Connor, set the pace and proved the value of a hard winter's work, when they won 1st place and the award for best drums in Grade 2. It was a good start as well for Lisburn lad Paul Crothers who was making his debut for the first time as bass drummer in the band.
There was special applause for Killeen Pipe band from Armagh who have been absent for some time from the competition arena. They came in runner up place with an exciting selection of new tunes. St. Mary's Derrytrasna were 3rd and Tamlaght O'Crilly took fourth place.
It was a brilliant start for newly upgraded band Syerla who
won 1 st overall place and best drums
in Grade 3A. Banbridge were second, Killadeas third and Woodgrange the final fourth placing.
In Grade 3B the top award for pipes and drums went to Co. Tyrone band Cullenfad who were followed by Cottown, Hollymount and Black Raven.
Grade 4A was won by Altnaveigh Memorial who also took the trophy for best drum corps. Quinn Memorial, Gortaclare and Gilnahirk were the other prizewinners in this grade.
The final grade of the day was Grade 4B and first place was awarded to Gransha for piping and drumming. Thomas Davis Memorial and Cleland Memorial were in second and third place.
One of the adjudicators was Trevor Dear, who on judging at his first indoor competition was full of praise for the organisation of the event and the standard of playing. The other judge was Gordon Parkes, ex-Leading Tip of the Field Marshal Montgomery Drum Corps.
Saturday May 4 will see the last of the mini bands competitions of the season. It will be held in the Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown and organised by Gortaclare Pipe Band. This event will commence at 1.00pm and the adjudicators will be Bobby Brannigan for piping and Colin Brown for drumming.
Bleary & District are the hosts for a musical evening in Lurgan Town hall on Friday, May 10 commencing at 8pm. It will feature Bleary Pipe band, Dunloy Accordion and Ballygowan Flute. Tickets cost £5 and are payable at door.
Chairman George Ussher urges all pipe bands and drum majors to get their entries in now for this year's European Championships which will be held in Ormeau Park Belfast on Saturday, June 22. These need to be in with headquarters at least 6 weeks before the actual competition and to date only a few bands from Northern Ireland have entered.
The Malahide Festival of Piping and Drumming, held in the beautiful Malahide Castle Co. Dublin will take place on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May. This event has been going from strength to strength over these past four years with many of the entries coming from bands from Northern Ireland.
Friday's programme, which starts at 8.30pm, will feature an invitational solo competition with many of the top soloists from all over Ireland taking part.
The main festival is on Saturday from 12 o'clock and to date 35 bands are entered. This event will be followed by a recital by Stuart Liddell in the local football club hall at around 9.00pm, where a great night is promised. The adjudicators for the competition will be Ian McLellan, Stephen Power, Malcolm MacKenzie and Tom Anderson - all for piping. The drumming judges are Ciaran Mordaunt and Gordon Parkes, with John Noble and Denver Cardwell for ensemble.
The members of the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA sent their deepest sympathy to Ernie Clarke on the recent death of his dear wife Kathleen who died suddenly last Thursday. A minute silence was held at the Banbridge competition in memory of Mrs Clarke. Ernie is the chief compiler for the Northern Ireland Branch.