Live in Ireland at Blackthorn Pipers/ Entry Forms Posted

Ryan Cupples-Menendez, a member of Grade 1 PSNI Pipe Band, was the Blackthorn Piper at the Blackthorn Pipers Society Meeting at the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, Belfast on Wednesday, writes John Kelly (left).

Also taking part were Ryan’s father Glenn Cupples (PSNI Pipe Band), Ashley McMichael (Field Marshal), Mark Hasson (P/M of Colmcille), Samantha Coburn (Thiepval Memorial), Nathan Coburn (Portavogie) and of course the Society’s Secretary, Grahame Harris (Major Sinclair Mem.) who introduced the guest pipers and compèred a great evening of entertainment and craic.

Refreshments were available during the performances including ‘piping’ hot soup served by ladies from Major Sinclair Mem. During the early part of the evening, pipers from the ‘Live Back in Ireland’ had been practicing in an upper floor room of the building.  In 1987, the then 78th Fraser Highlanders soon to be World Champion Pipe Band, performed and recorded the now legendary ‘Live in Ireland’ concert in Ballymena.

Harry Stevenson, Grahame Harris (Blackthorn Secretary), Pipe Major Bill Livingstone of the original 78th Frasers concert band, and Hans Whan. Harry and Hans attended ‘Live in Ireland’ concert in Ballymena some 30 years ago

A large group of the original pipers and drummers (including Pipe Major Bill Livingstone, Leading Drummer J. Reid Maxwell and Michael Grey) will be taking part in the ‘Live ‘back’ in Ireland 87’ show at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall tomorrow evening.  The band will be joining an all-star cast of guest players from the UK and Ireland (including many of the original performers) who are once again coming together, for the final time, to celebrate the music of that special mid-August concert held some 30 years ago.

P/M Richard Parkes signs the visitors book at Blackthorn

After the band had finished their practice for the concert, Blackthorn members were delighted when the band members dropped in and joined them for the latter part of the evening.

The Society were particularly pleased when Michael Grey (one of the band’s original pipers who had performed at the concert in 1987 and pictured up top) concluded a great evening by playing a selection of tunes.

Editor’s note: According to Donald McBride, a man who knows about these things, far from being an Irish term, the word ‘craic’ or ‘crack’ actually originated in Newcastle, no, not County Down, but the Geordie city in the north-east of England. Further clarification welcome.

Entry forms for the following competitions are now available via Piping Press: SPA Professional, Highlands & Islands and Braemar. Braemar Gathering are certainly quick out of the stocks this year with their online entry form.

The Royal Gathering is particularly keen on attracting more youngsters to what is a very special day in the north-east Highlands. Competition starts at 10am for seniors and 10.30 for juniors. Entry in the seniors is restricted to 25 for Piobaireachd (with five reserves) and 30 for the light music. There is no entry fee but competitors pay at the gate. Entries close Aug 1.

The SPA Adult Amateur and Professional contests both take place at the College of Piping. The first is on April 1 with entries closing March 17. The SPA Professional is on April 8 with entries closing March 24. Late entries will play first and will only be accepted if places are available.

Piping competitions at the Highlands & Islands Festival in Oban are on April 29 with entries closing March 13. There is a wide range of contests with juniors well catered for. Piping events take place in Oban High School.

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