All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships Report and Pictures

Lurgan Park, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, once again came alive with the music of pipe bands when the prestigious All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships were held in the picturesque park for the first time on Saturday 1st July, write John Kelly and Andrew Cromie. 

The championships rotate each year between a venue in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  It isnow in its 72nd year. It is one of the key outings in the pipe band calendar and came hot on the heels of the successful Craigavon & District Pipe Band and Drum Major Championships held in the park just two weeks earlier on 17th June.

FMM on the green at Lurgan

It is organised by the Joint Association Council of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, Northern Ireland Branch (RSPBANI), and the Irish Pipe Band Association (IPBA) in partnership with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

About 49 pipe bands and 45 drum majors from all over Ireland, north and south, competed including Field Marshal Montgomery, St Laurence O’Toole, McDonald Memorial (Dromore) and Battlehill Pipe Band (Portadown).  Bands from the Irish Pipe Band Association also attended including New Ross and District (Wexford), Thiepval Memorial (Donegal) and Manorcunningham (Donegal). Manorcunningham are pictured top celebrating after their win in Grade 2 was announced.

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Field Marshal Montgomery ran out comfortable winners in Grade One. Field Marshal’s domination of piping and ensemble was enough to wins in both the MSR and Medley selection competitions and claim first place overall with four points to spare from second place St Laurence O’Toole. Field Marshal won the prize for best pipes with St Laurence scooping a drum corps and bass section double. Completing the top four in grade one were the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Ravara.
P/M Kyle Warren and Scotch College Pipes and Drums (Australia) pictured at the All-Irelands
Grade Two was a close run affair with Manorcunningham pipping Closkelt to first place on ensemble preference. Manorcunningham also lifted prizes for best drums and bass section with Closkelt winning the piping award. Annsborough and Thiepval Memorial completed the prize list.
Marlacoo & District were comfortable winners in grade 3a where they held a four point margin over New Ross & District. St Joseph’s, who also claimed the prize for best drums, were placed third with Drumlough, winners of the prize for best pipes, in fourth. Best bass section went to Upper Crossgare.
Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE receiving the Grade 1 trophy from Lord Mayor, Alderman Gareth Wilson, Chieftain of the Day
Quinn Memorial swept the prize lists in Grade 3b with a performance that saw them lift prizes for best pipes, drums and bass section. Battlehill, Clogher & District and Tralee Pipes and Drums completed the top four.
McDonald Memorial ran out victors in Grade 4a, lifting prizes for best pipes and bass section for good measure. Second place went St Mary’s Derrytrasna with the Co Antrim duo of Cullybackey and McNeilstown third and fourth respectively. The drumming prize went to Tullylagan.
P/M Gordon Carson, Manorcunningham, receives the Grade 2 trophy
The visiting Scotch College Pipes and Drums from Melbourne, Australia, the current Victorian and Australian Champion School Pipe Band, showcased their talents with a wonderful spectrum of music but missed out on a placing in the prizes but did collect the award for best M&D.
Kildoag have been strong performers in grade 4b this season and that continued with an All Ireland title. Bessbrook Crimson Arrow were second and lifted the prize for best pipes ahead of Lisnamulligan and Sgt Walker Memorial. The prizes for best drum corps and bass section were won by Cullen.
Quinn Memorial pictured after being crowned Grade 3B champions

Elsewhere there was also plenty of entertainment on offer with a wide range of delicious food at the cuisine court, a staged area with cultural music, Highland dancing, face painting, balloon modelling and a kid’s fairground zone to keep the little ones entertained. .  The Chieftain of the Day was Alderman Gareth Wilson, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

A hat trick of All-Ireland wins for D/M Jason Price (Ravara ) pictured after receiving the Adult trophy. Jason won it as a Juvenile and then last year in Adult

The main drum major winners were: Novice – Louis Anderson (Crozier Memorial); Junior – Jamie Cupples (Aughintober), Juvenile – Kathryn McKeown (Battlehill) and Adult – Jason Price (Ravara).

P/S Sonya Rooney (McDonald Memorial) and her daughter Billie and son Samuel pictured after the band were crowned Grade 4A All Ireland Champions

All pictures by John Kelly. Full results here. Read a short history of the championship here. The next major pipe band championship is the Scottish to be held at Dumbarton on July 29. The final major of the year, the World Championships, will be held on Glasgow Green on August 11 and 12. If you require tickets for the Grade 1 arena then move quickly as they are selling out fast. Tickets for the event and full information are available here. You can also buy tickets by calling 0141 353 8000 and in person at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall box office. Also selling out fast are tickets for the main attraction of Worlds Week, the concert by Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia, to be given in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on August 9. Get tickets here. Another main highlight of Worlds Week is the parade of bands from Glasgow’s Blythswood Square to George Square on Friday August 11 at around midday. Overseas bands are the main participants and they are later invited to a reception in Glasgow City Chambers hosted by the Lord Provost. If you are in the city that day then why not make a point of turning out to give these bands, many of whom have travelled thousands of miles to take part in the Worlds, your support.

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2 thoughts on “All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships Report and Pictures

  1. Hi,
    My name is Angus Bodon I am in the scotch college pipes and drums band and I was wondering if I could get the image of us posted on this page to be emailed to me in a higher quality? as it would make a great picture for the album. Thank you very much. Great report also!!
    Cheers Angus.

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