John Retires With a Look Back at Northern Ireland’s 2017 Band Scene

After ten years of covering pipe band events and competitions John Kelly (RSPBANI Honorary Vice-President) has decided to pack away the Nikon D3 camera, hang up the now familiar straw hat and retire from the pipe band scene.  In concluding this ‘Review of 2017’ John would like to thank his many pipe band and drum major friends for many special memories and wish them every success in 2018.

January (pic above): Northern Ireland Drum Majors Brian Wilson MBE and Lauren Hanna pictured heading up the massed pipe bands at the Glasgow Tattoo on Saturday 21st.  Included is Glasgow Tattoo Pipe Major Alan Barr, Ravara Pipe Band (right in front row).

Pipe Major James Stevenson (Aughnahoory Pipe Band) and Gareth Crozier (Schomberg Society Chairman) pictured prior to piping in the haggis at the Schomberg Society Burns Night Dinner in the Kilmorey Arms Hotel, Kilkeel on Saturday 28th January
Harry Stevenson, Grahame Harris (Secretary of the Blackthorn Pipers Society) and Pipe Major Bill Livingstone (78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band, Toronto) pictured at the Blackthorn Pipers Society meeting at the Discover Ulster-Scots Centre, Belfast on Wednesday 22nd February
Pipe Major John Fittis (left) and Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band pictured taking part in the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Belfast on Friday 17th March
Ashley McMichael (Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band) pictured with his wife Ashleigh after winning the senior ‘Solo Piping’ title at the Cullybackey Pipe Band Solos in Cullybackey College on Saturday 8th April
Pipe Major Samuel Connolly (left in back row) and the new look Ravara Pipe Band (with new waistcoats, socks & garter flashes) pictured against the backdrop of Bangor Castle at the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships at Bangor on Saturday 13th May
 

Keeping it in the family at Ballybriest Pipe Band is former pipe major Arnold Mitchell who is pictured with his daughter Naomi and sons Cameron and Ewan at the Craigavon & District Pipe Band Championships in Lurgan Park on Saturday 17th June
Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE and members of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band pictured receiving the Grade 1 All-Ireland first place silverware from Lord Mayor Alderman Gareth Wilson (Chieftain of the Day) at the All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships at Lurgan Park on Saturday 1st July
World Champion Drum Majors – Rachel Lowry, Armaghbreague Pipe Band (Junior Grade), James Kennedy, Closkelt Pipe Band (Juvenile Grade) and Jason Price, Ravara Pipe Band (Adult Grade) pictured at the North West Pipe Band & Drum Major Championships at Ramore Head, Portrush on Saturday 19th August 2017
Acting Pipe Major Richard McKee (left) and Kirkistown Pipe Band pictured during their performance at an Ulster-Scots Concert in Ballywalter Presbyterian Church Hall on Friday 8th September
Manorcunningham Pipe Band pictured with their array of 2017 trophies at the band’s practice hall in Manorcunningham on Saturday 7th October. Included are Pipe Major Gordon Carson (left in back row), Pipe Sergeant William Black (right in back row) and Drum Sergeant Alan Laird (left in front row)
Lone piper Francis Strain (Ulster Defence Regiment Association, Belfast) pictured playing while crosses were placed at the 2017 Field of Remembrance at Belfast City Hall on Monday 6th November
News broke in early December that Lisnamulligan Pipe Band will take part in the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in France in August 2018. This picture of the band at the North West Pipe Band Championships at Portrush in August will be featured in the brochure and advertising for this prestigious event
John doffs his hat and raises the Nikon for the last time

The Editor writes: Well, thanks for the memories John. You have been a great servant to pipe bands in the Province and I hope there is someone ready to step forward to fill your expert shoes. As you know, journalism ain’t easy, but I must say you have been the model professional and I am sure Northern Ireland’s bands will appreciate all you have done for them in publicising their activities at your own expense over so many years.