Ulster News: All Irelands/ Sunbelt Contest/ NI Bands Upgraded/ Derryclavin Centenary

Following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the Joint Association Council of the RSPBA NI and IPBA announced that it had decided to postpone the All Ireland Solo Championships and J.A.C. Solo Championships which were due to be held on Saturday September 17th.

This decision was understandable given the need to recognise this significant time and also to observe the period of National Mourning leading up to the State Funeral.

A few weeks later the Joint Association Council announced that it has not been possible to secure a date with the original venue, Lisnagarvey High School, to host this year’s solo contests and that after the exploring other venues it was decided that the contests should not go ahead in this calendar year.

By Gilbert Cromie, Northern Ireland Correspondent

Arrangements to refund entrants fees were put in place and these will have been sorted out by now. This decision was met with considerable disappointment from competitors who had been practising for the competitions with some even suggesting alternative venues. 

The cancellation of the event prevented the All-Ireland Champion Piper taking up the opportunity of an invitation to travel to the USA to compete at the inaugural Crios Gréine Invitational (The Sun Belt) a brand new invitational solo competition being launched by Eric Stein in Florida, USA.

It takes place on November 12th, this weekend, with nine competitors having already been chosen and a place being reserved for the All-Ireland Adult Solo Piping winner as long as they could meet the criteria applied with the winner being able to submit eight piobaireachds.

The competition is using the same requirements that are required for top competitions in Scotland. If the All-Ireland winner had been unable to submit eight piobaireachds the invitation was then to go to the second or third place winners. If no one could meet the criteria the invitation would be withdrawn.

The player selected to travel was to receive the airfare and three nights at the Orlando Sheraton North in Florida, USA. This American competition consists of a piobaireachd and a medley competition, with the prize money being $1000, $750, $500, $250, $100 for each event plus an additional $1000 to the overall winner. Hopefully the All Ireland winner will be invited in 2023.


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Three NI Branch bands upgraded

Three NI Branch bands were upgraded following an RSPBA Music Board meeting in Glasgow. Syerla & District from the Dungannon area, who were the dominant force in Grade 4B, have been moved up to Grade 4A.

They won all five of the NI Branch contests as well as taking second and third places at the Worlds and UK Championships. The band is pictured below.

The biggest movement for any band in these changes was the County Londonderry based band Kildoag who have moved from Grade 4A to Grade 3A.

They had an outstanding season winning four out of the five local competitions as well as the All-Ireland. They were also crowned World and UK Champions however it was most likely their performances in Grade 3B when playing up which made the Music Board decide that they should go up an additional level. The band is pictured below celebrating after one of their many 2022 successes.

They were in the prize list at four of the 3B competitions and only lost out on ensemble preference at Newcastle. Their drum corps also had a stellar season being unbeaten in Grade 4A and also winning the Grade 3B title at the Ulster Championships.

The Major Sinclair Memorial has also been upgraded to 3A. They were winners at Cookstown as well as figuring regularly in the Grade 3B prize lists however a win at the British and placings at the UK and Worlds will have contributed to their elevation.

No bands were raised to Grade 1 and Ravara, who dominated Grade 2 locally as well as taking the UK Championships and performing well in some other RSPBA Majors, were one of the beneficiaries of this decision.  The band is pictured at the head of this article at Newcastle, Co. Down, this year.

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Derryclavin Celebrate Centenary

Throughout this year the Derryclavin Pipe Band from County Fermanagh had been celebrating their Centenary which is a significant milestone for any band or organisation to reach.

This had an extremely busy year with regular appearances all over the area in support of local bands. They also played at the Queens Platinum Jubilee celebration in Enniskillen and in July they hosted a charity band parade in Lisbellaw which raised the magnificent sum of £1531 for the Air Ambulance.


The band held a Centenary Concert at a sell-out Ardhowen Theatre on Friday October 14th at 8.00pm. The organising committee had assembled a great line-up of musical entertainers which included the Maguiresbridge Silver Band and the folk group ‘Elbowed Out’ which featured seasoned musicians Ian Burrows and Kenny Qua on Scottish smallpipes, Uilleann Pipes, guitar and whistles.

On the night there was the launch of a book detailing the history of the band which is available for sale through the band’s Facebook page priced £20.

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