Review of Juvenile Grade at the Scottish / Results from Lisburn, Northern Ireland

Heading to Dumbarton to listen to the Grade 1 MSR contest, I arrived in time to take in the Juvenile contest which preceded it – and what an unexpected pleasure it was, writes our Special Correspondent. Aside from a few observations below, I will resist the temptation to dwell on the weather other than it had its moments for the juvenile competitors also.

First on in the medley contest were Dollar Academy (pictured top). First on; first class; and first place. Head and shoulders above the competition, the only negatives I could offer were a slightly dominant bass at times (although the bass drummer deserves huge credit for his constant attention to the pipe major) and a slip in the harmonies in the jig. Three out of four first places gave them a third of four championships this season. Dollar will be the band to beat on Glasgow Green.

Next up were Preston Lodge High School. Overall a tidy performance. My feeling was that their piping was nearer fourth than seventh. Playing between the bands that finished first and second appears to have been more of a hinderance than a help. No prize this time but a lot to be optimistic about.

Third on were George Watson’s College. Like Dollar they opened with an ‘old fashioned’ hornpipe – Jim Tweedie’s Sea Legs (to Dollar’s Una McIntyre). A solid run gave them second overall. West Lothian Schools produced a steady performance which could easily have brought them a better finish than the fifth they achieved.

The piping judges had George Heriot’s School well down (6th and 5th respectively), however, strong showings in both drumming (1st) and ensemble (3rd) saw them pip the next band to play, North Lanarkshire Schools to third place. The piping judges had North Lanarkshire on a par with Watson’s and when you factor in their being subjected to the worst of the weather by quite some distance it was a tremendous effort. Not many modern tunes in a well constructed medley made for a refreshing change. A well deserved fourth place.

North Lanarkshire Schools – tremendous effort at Dumbarton
Last on, and taking sixth place, we’re Boghall & Bathgate. Whilst they didn’t get the rain North Lanarkshire did, they were subjected to exceptionally high winds. A special mention to the piper who was caught by a flying branch yet carried on regardless. The setting of the Banjo Breakdown to finish (first aired by the Grade 1 band a few years back) was a fine end to the contest.

As I said at the outset, the contest was a pleasure to listen to. The standard was exceptional throughout. The amount of listeners was, however, disappointing and it’s difficult to envisage that state of affairs improving on Glasgow Green with the juvenile grade commencing at a nonsensical 9 am. The RSPBA should take a good hard look at this. I can’t believe that a more sensible slot couldn’t be found somewhere (how about between the two legs of the Grade 1 final?) to showcase the emerging talent. For the Worlds it’s the same seven bands that played at Dumbarton together with the usually impressive St Andrew’s College band from New Zealand. Best of luck to everyone.

• Read the Editor’s review of Grade 1 here and MacStig’s take on Grade 2 here.

Don’t miss this wonderful evening of ceol mor 7.30 – 9.30pm, Sunday August 12, St Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh; a unique occasion sponsored by the Piobaireachd Society; listen to four top pipers playing the great music; tickets £10/£8; click on pic for more

Gilbert Cromie reports: Moira Demesne was the venue for the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Championships where despite a short shower early on the spacious parkland was bathed in sunshine for most of the day. It was announced that there were 1900 cars parked in the grounds which gives some idea of the crowds that attended what was a great day of contesting. 

The Chieftain of the Day was Councillor Uel Mackin, the Mayor of the local council, who in his speech was full of praise for both the standard of the competing bands and the suitability of the venue for such an event. Prior to the announcement of the results Meaghan Lyons a member of the Branch’s media committee referred to the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band receiving a Special Award at the Gradam Ceoil TG4 2018 event in the Waterfront Hall. Pipe Major Richard Parkes was then called forward to receive a memento from the NI Branch in recognition of the bands outstanding achievement in the world of folk music from which pipe bands are often excluded.

It was good to have three Grade 1 bands in attendance and not surprisingly the premier grade was taken by Field Marshal Montgomery with Vale of Atholl second and the PSNI third however the police band picked up the drum corps prize. Closkelt got back to winning ways with newly crowned Scottish Champions Ravara second and New Ross & District third. In Grades 3A down to 4B it was very much a case of the usual suspects  winning namely Marlacoo & District [3A], St Mary’s Derrytrasna [3B], McNeillstown [4A] and Gransha [4B]. While St Mary’s Derrytrasna and McNeillstown managed to take the drum corps prizes in their grades as well that was not the case in 3A and 4B. The Quinn Memorial drummers lifted the prize for 3A while the rapidly improving Broughshane & District did the same for 4B.

There was a new winner in the Adult drum major section with Closkelt’s James Kennedy taking first prize. James and Emma Barr [who was 3rd] only came up from the Juvenile’s this season and with a win each locally as well as a UK Championship for Emma signifies that  they are most certainly making a big impact. Rachel Lowry won the Juvenile, Abigail Wenlock the Junior and Louise Smiton the Novice.

This Saturday it’s off to Portrush for the final local contest of the season with the Champion of Champions titles up for grabs in each grade.

Results: Grade 1: 1st Field Marshal Montgomery, 2nd Vale of Atholl, 3rd PSNI (also Best Drums, Bass Section and M&D). Grade 2: 1st Closkelt (also Best Drums and Bass Section), 2nd Ravara (also Best M&D), 3rd New Ross & District, 4the Colmcille. Grade 3A: 1st Marlacoo & District, 2nd Quinn Memorial (also Best Drums and Bass Section), 3rd Thiepval Memorial, 4th Matt Boyd Memorial (also Best M&D). Grade 3B: 1st St Mary’s Derrytrasna (also Best Drums and Bass Section), 2nd Battlehill, 3rd Major Sinclair Memorial (also Best M&D), 4th Clogher & District. Grade 4A: 1st McNeillstown (also Best Drums), 2nd Kildoag (also Best M&D), 3rd Cullybackey, 4th  McDonald Memorial. Best Bass Section: Tamlaght O’Crilly. Grade 4B: 1st Gransha (also Best Bass Section), 2nd Wicklow, 3rd Broughshane & District (Best Drums), 4th Bessbrook Crimson Arrow, , 5th, Sgt Walker Memorial, 6th Ballyboley. Best M&D: Kirkistown. Drum Majors: Adult: 1st James Kennedy, 2nd Lauren Hanna, 3rd Emma Barr, 4th Alicia Dickson, 5th Jason Price. Juvenile: 1st Rachel Lowry, 2nd Jamie Cupples, 3rd Jason Nicholl, 4th Kara Gilmour, 5th Emily Crooks. Junior: 1st Abigail Wenlock, 2nd Kathy Hunter, 3rd Charlotte Ruddock, 4th Lee Nicholl, 5th Zara Cupples. Novice: 1st Louise Smiton, 2nd Carys Graham, 3rd Katie Clarke, 4th Jamie Lee Wilson, 5th Ben Dickson.

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