By Gilbert Cromie
After last week’s extremely inclement weather at Lurgan, bands and supporters basked in the sun at Antrim Castle Gardens last Saturday. The local pipe band fraternity cleaned the mud off their socks and shoes and dried out their capes for the trip to the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Pipe Band Championships.
What a difference a week makes – this time around it was warm and sunny throughout with the various vendors seemingly doing a brisk trade, especially the ice cream man, and the large crowd enjoying the music in more traditional summer weather.
It was a good day for piping and drumming and all the bands seemed to be playing very well.
It was a day for some shocks however, especially in the top grades with Closkelt edging out the PSNI by a single point in Grade 1 and then losing out to Ravara in Grade 2 by a similar margin.
In Grade 3A we had a new winning band in Thiepval Memorial who beat off the challenge of Quinn Memorial who won the drumming. In Grade 3B once again it was McNeillstown who just stayed ahead of the Grade 4A Augharan who were playing up.
I have to say that McNeillstown’s strathspey ‘Wedderlie Castle’ is a breath of fresh air and I will be listening again. Augharan won Grade 4A ahead of nearest challengers Cullybackey while Broughshane & District won Grade 4B by some margin over Mountjoy and Ballyboley who had the best piping.
In the drum majors there were first wins of the season for Andrea McKeown Gibson in the Adult section and Abigail Wenlock in the Juvenile. Benjamin Walker continued his recent good form in the Junior section as did Carys Graham in the Novice.
The Chieftain of the Day was Alderman John Smyth the Mayor of Antrim & Newtownabbey. The adjudication panel comprised Harry Stevenson, Colin Moffett, George Wilson and Richard Parkes MBE (Piping), Ciaran Mordaunt and Gordon Parkes (Drumming), and Paul Turner and Cameron Edgar (Ensemble). Gloria Aicken and Roger Young looked after the Drum Majors while Kathy Calvin and Jayne Hassin- Scott adjudicated on the Marching & Discipline.
Grade 1: 1st Closkelt (also Best Pipes and Bass Section), 2nd PSNI (also Best Drums), 3rd Ravara (also Best M&D)
Grade 2: 1st Ravara (also Best Drums & M&D), 2ndCloskelt (Best Pipes & Bass Section), 3rd Manorcunningham, 4th Colmcille
Grade 3A: 1st Thiepval Memorial (also Best Pipes & M&D), 2nd Quinn Memorial (Best Drums & Bass Section), 3rd Matt Boyd Memorial, 4th Drumlough
Grade 3B: 1 McNeillstown (also Best Drums & Bass Section), 2nd Augharan (also Best Pipes), 3rd Kildoag (Best M&D), 4th Cleland Memorial
Grade 4A: 1st Augharan (Best Pipes (tied) & Drums) 2nd Cullybackey (also Best Pipes (tied) & M&D), 3rd McDonald Mem. (also Best Bass Section), 4th Gransha
Grade 4B: 1st Broughshane & District (also Best Drums & Bass Section), 2nd Mountjoy, 3rd Ballyboley (also Best Pipes), 4th William Kerr Mem. (also Best M&D)
Drum Majors: Adult: 1st 1 Andrea McKeown, 2nd Emma Barr, 3rd David Brownleee, 4th Lauren Hanna, 5th James Kennedy. Juvenile: 1st Abigail Wenlock, 2nd Jamie Cupples, 3rd Kathryn McKeown, 4th Kathy Hunter, 5th Rachel Lowry. Junior: 1st Benjamin Walker, 2nd Louis Anderson, 3rd Grace Thompson, 4th Leanne Crooks, 5th Louise Smiton. Novice: 1st Carys Graham, 2nd Mia Buckley, 3rd Jorja Turkington, 4th Harry Mills, 5th Mia Lily Fraser.