Detailed Information on Historic Northern Irish Pipe Band Photographs

We are grateful to RSPBA adjudicator Harry Stevenson (pictured) and to Tommy Johnston of Pipe Dreams for supplying the following information on our historical Irish bands feature of a week or so ago.

Main Picture (above): This is the Red Hand Brian Boru  Pipe Band with Trevor Forster as Drum Major. They played the Brian Boru pipes which had been  developed by Henry Starck the famous pipemaker in London.

Brian Boru pipes consisted of bass, baritone and tenor  drones  and a keyed chanter which had a range from low E to a high B. Some chanters  could be fitted with more than 10 keys so the range may have been increased. Brian Boru bands tended to wear  saffron or green kilts.

The pipers of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers played the Brian Boru bagpipe. As to the other photographs:Photo 1:- This is the Robert Armstrong Memorial  in 1969.

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Photo 2: Front Row L-R: Tommy Geddis P/M, Billy Mawhinney,  Charlie Rea, Leslie Geddis, Don McClean, Sammy Payne, Allan McClintock, Enoch Kirk and Jackie McComb P/Sgt. Back Row:- Brian McDowell, Rab Thornbury, Brian Chambers, George McClean-Holland, Trevor Forster D/M, Harry Stevenson, Tommy Davison, Johnston McCaughan, Joe Cairns, Ivan Johnston and Jim Chambers. This was taken in 1966 the year in which we won our first All-Ireland Championship.

Photo 3: This is Trevor Forster in the uniform of the Drum Major of the Red Hand Brian Boru Pipe Band. I think this would have been in late 1950s. Trevor later joined the Armstrong as D/M but also when needed played bass and tenor. He was a first class bass drummer and a super singer.

Photo 4: This was in 1975 but  I just can’t remember  the location. Former RAMS drummer Tommy Johnston (Pipe Dreams) to the rescue Harry. Tommy says: ‘The names are as follows: Back row l – r: Billy Dunlop, TJ, Leslie Geddis, Billy Barnham, Ivan Johnson, Trevor Foster.
‘Front row: Harry Stevenson, George McFetridge, Davy Majury, Ian McLean, Francis Russell, Enoch Kirk, Ricky Newall, P/M Tommy Geddis.

Former Armstrong drummer Tommy Johnston

‘I don’t think this was 1975, more like 74 and I think it was taken from a tv show for BBC Northern Ireland for an outside broadcast from the Balmoral Showgrounds in Belfast.
‘We had a super drum corps although they were not all present at this engagement. The Armstrong Memorial were a great bunch of guys. I learned a lot from everyone and have many fond memories of those days.’

Photo 5: This is the Red Hand Brian Boru  band Probably in the late 1950s. The P/M was Mark Carroll who went on in later years to form the James Carroll Memorial Accordion Band which became a championship winning band.

Photo 6: This is the 1966 All-Ireland Drum Corps. L-R: Charlie Rea, Sammy Payne, Trevor Forster, Alec Hull, Don McClean, Jimmy Dougan. The wee lad in front is Gary Cairns who in later years won the All-Ireland Senior solo drumming championship.

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