Category Archives: Pipe Bands

Paisley Centre Stage for Annual West of Scotland Branch Contest

Glasgow and West of Scotland Branch of the RSPBA will hold their innovative annual competition in Paisley Town Centre tomorrow (July 22). In the above picture Johnstone Pipe Band celebrate after their success at the 2016 contest. The official publicity release reads: ‘Paisley town centre will welcome some of Scotland’s top piping talent for the annual Paisley Pipe Band Competition tomorrow.

‘The event, which is in its eighth year, will see pipers and drummers from across Scotland fill the town with the sound of bagpipes and the beat of drums.

‘Thousands are expected to watch the bands as they parade from High Street to the main competition arena in County Square. There, judges from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association – West of Scotland branch will judge the bands on their performances across the various grades. Spectators will be able to enjoy the performances during the day, with the March Past at 4.30pm.

‘Bands compete from 10.30am and then the massed bands will gather at 5.30pm for the prize-giving ceremony with the Chieftain. The competition, organised by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) and Renfrewshire Council, have quickly come to be regarded as one of the most prestigious events on the calendar. This year’s event is part of an exciting and expanding calendar of cultural events for Renfrewshire following the successful shortlisting of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021.

‘Chieftain of the event, Provost Lorraine Cameron said, ‘The Paisley Pipe Band Competition has attracted huge numbers of people to the town in the years that the event has been running. The standard of piping is extremely high attracting bands from across Scotland to compete demonstrating the prestigious nature of the event.

‘These events bring big crowds into our towns and give local communities another reason to feel proud about living in Paisley and Renfrewshire. It’s also a great reason to join in the celebrations as Paisley 2021 has made it through to the second stage of the bid for the UK City of Culture 2021.’

‘This marks the second large-scale piping event to take place in the town this year. Earlier this year, Paisley hosted the British Pipe Band Championships which saw thousands of people turn out to St James Playing Fields for one of the biggest events in world piping.

‘A Family Fun Day has been organised by Renfrewshire Leisure in and around the grounds of the Arts Centre, to mark its 30th anniversary, on Saturday between noon and 4pm. Youngsters can enjoy watching puppet theatre and take part in craft workshops.

‘For more information on Paisley 2021, visit, like /Paisley2021 on Facebook or follow @Paisley2021 on Twitter and Instagram.’

The draw is as follows:
Grade Novice Juvenile B
10:30 Dumbarton and District
10:38 Renfrewshire Schools

Grade 4
10:55 East Kilbride
11:03 St Francis
11:11 Strathendrick
11:19 Dunoon Argyll
11:27 Irvine and District
11:35 Greyfriars Pipes and Drums
11:43 Kilmarnock Pipe Band
11:51 Renfrew North Youth
11:59 Kilbarchan
12:07 Johnstone Pipe Band
12:15 Williamwood
12:23 3rd Barrhead and District
12:31 Kilsyth Thistle

Grade 3
13:25 Strathendrick
13:33 Irvine and District
13:41 Royal Burgh of Stirling
13:49 Kilbarchan
13:57 Johnstone Pipe Band
14:05 Milngavie

Grade 3 MSR
14:35 Royal Burgh of Stirling
14:43 Williamwood
14:51 Irvine and District
14:59 Johnstone Pipe Band

Grade 2
15:20 Milngavie
15:29 Dumbarton and District
15:38 Royal Burgh of Stirling

Grade 1
15:55 Johnstone Pipe Band
16:05 Dumbarton and District

Over in Northern Ireland we have band contests at the Ulster Championships in Antrim Castle Gardens and the Burntisland contest in Fife, both tomorrow.


Jennifer Makes the National News After Altercation with Airline

RSPBA adjudicator Jennifer Hutcheon featured in a story in Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper this morning after she was escorted from a flight for refusing to put her pipes in the hold. Jennifer is pictured above piping at another memorial service. The paper reported:

‘A Scots pensioner was thrown off a flight — for refusing to place her bagpipes in the plane’s hold. World champion piper Jennifer Hutcheon was frogmarched across the airport building by armed police officers and soldiers after falling foul of Ryanair staff.

‘The 67-year-old was returning from Belgium after playing a lament at the grave of her grandfather, 100 years to the day after his death in World War I. But the emotional pilgrimage was ruined by her traumatic incident at Charleroi Airport as Jennifer tried to carry her pipes on board a plane as hand luggage. After being barred from the flight, she was forced to sleep in the airport overnight before finally catching a flight home the next day.

Jennifer, from Bridge of Earn near Perth, said yesterday: ‘I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. The local crew member completely went overboard when I refused to let him take my bagpipes and I removed a sticker he put on my bag – he turned into Bonaparte.

‘The next thing is that two police officers and two soldiers with big guns are telling me to leave the queue and they marched me across the airport to some offices. I was then led out to an exit and told to go on my way.”

‘Jennifer, an adjudicator for the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said trouble flared last Monday when Ryanair staff started choosing passengers’ bags to go in the hold, because there were too many suitcases for the cabin. The pipes are priceless to her and she was concerned they would be damaged. She was transporting them in a small suitcase that comfortably met Ryanair’s strict sizing policy.

Yet when she tried to explain the situation to the staff member, she claims he ‘completely refused to listen to what I had to say’ and called in the airport’s armed response team. After her ordeal, Jennifer was forced to spend a night in the airport with a friend.

‘The pair flew home the next morning on new one-way tickets that cost her a total of £472.33. Ironically, her eventual flight home was also with Ryanair – and Jennifer was able to take her pipes on board as hand luggage without any problems. She said the cabin staff ‘couldn’t have been nicer’ on that occasion.

‘Jennifer travelled to Belgium to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of her grandad James High-Spence, who was killed by a stray German shell close to Ypres aged just 25.’

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Bands: Grade 2 Mid Season Update and Look Ahead/ Co. Antrim Champs.

Our Special Correspondent has been covering our important Grade 2 contests all season. His reporting and comment has been very well received by the bandsmen and women in this grade and he has highlighted some of the excellent playing you can hear in this grade. Today he takes stock of their season so far….

With a number of Grade 2 overseas bands slated to play at Glasgow Green in August (see the draw of Grade 2 and other bands attending here), we have been monitoring the events where those who are in the two Grade 2 qualifiers are limbering up.

Two weekends ago the City of Kincardine, Ontario (sitting in the edge of picturesque Lake Huron), hosted a decent sized contest. One of our contacts was there watching the 78th Frasers take Grade 1, and Greater Midwest (GM) win Grade 2 ahead of 400 Tactical Helicopter and Midlothian Scottish (USA). Sadly, GM, led by reed maker, Pipe Major Adrian Melvin, will not be in Glasgow this year, having made the trip in 2016. Adrian had a great send off from his band with that win. The Midlothian Scottish will be in Heat 1 of the Grade 2 contest in Glasgow.

Midlothian Scottish from Illinois are playing at the Worlds

At Glasgowlands, Mass., USA, this past weekend, New York Metro, another band heading to the Green, won Grade 2 ahead of Macmillan and Worcester Kiltie. The latter having won Grade 3 at the Green last summer. All three will be in what looks to be the tougher Heat 2 qualifier for the Worlds. They will also have the Houston based, St. Thomas Alumni in their heat, along with the College of Piping from Summerside, Canada, and indigenous names, City of Discovery and Glasgow Skye, both of which have already featured in the prize lists for majors this season.

In the Worlds Grade 2, Heat 1, the other overseas names, beyond Midlothian Scottish mentioned earlier, are the well-regarded Pipe Band Club and St Andrews, both of Australia, North Stratton from Canada and a welcome return after absence in Scotland to the P/M Iain Donaldson led, City of Dunedin, Florida. They will have high fliers Lomond & Clyde, ‘steady Eddie’ MacCals, refreshed Manorcunningham and the mighty Vikings of Balagan to deal with in their heat.

In addition to these developments in North America, Manorcunningham from Eire, the recent winners of the All-Ireland Grade 2, had a successful run out this past weekend, prior to them missing the Scottish Championship, as intimated in these pages.

Manorcunningham…not playing at Dumbarton

As a quick look forward, there are 18 Grade 2 entries for North Berwick on August 5th, which includes a couple of top Juvenile bands and Grade 3’s playing up. As an aside, Grade 1 Medley has 11 bands listed, nine of which are Grade 1. Lomond & Clyde and The Pipe Band Club (Australia) play up from Grade 2.

With the Scottish Championship at Dumbarton only a couple of weeks away (see draw here), we will have a preview of this penultimate Major in the week leading up to it. Sixteen bands are listed, but we know 15 maximum will play. No Mannorcunningham, or Balagan to be in the mix and both have featured previously. We expect a head to head between Lomond & Clyde and Glasgow Skye again, with the MacCals pursued by City of Discovery and Closkelt.

Finally, the draw for the Bridge of Allan contest on August 6th will not be out for some time, however, we expect there to be a good turnout there too.

In the meantime, enjoy whatever is occupying your summer and look forward to the run in to what promises to be an exceptional Grade 2 World Championship in less than a month. Over and out.

County Antrim PIpe Band Championships

By Gilbert Cromie; pix by John Kelly

Gilbert Cromie reports…Saturday last saw the County Antrim Pipe Band Championships takes place at the picturesque Glenarm Castle which has been the venue for this contest for several years. Sadly the timing of the contest is all wrong falling as it does a matter of days after the Twelfth and right bang in the middle of the holiday season, hence the poor turnout as shown in the massed bands photograph top.

The contest takes place as part of the Dalriada Festival which is a superb event in its own right and on the day there was an abundance of entertainment and activities to be enjoyed by competitors and their families. It is unfortunate that since the contest moved to this earlier date the original entry numbers have declined as the event nears and this was the case on Saturday. The well-attended Dalriada Festival provides the RSPBA NI Branch with a wonderful opportunity to showcase its product but the impact would be so much better if each grade had at least half a dozen bands competing.

Freddie Carlisle, Ben McKeown and Pipe Major John Fittis pictured after receiving the prizes best bass, best drums and M&D at the County Antrim Pipe Band Championships

The County Antrim Section who organise this contest must be disappointed that only eleven bands out of the original twenty odd turned out leaving some grades with single entries. The weather was not the best either however those bands that did turn out, and congratulations to them for doing so, provided the big crowd with a good afternoon’s entertainment. The biggest entry was in Grade 4B which saw Gransha win ahead of Kildoag on ensemble preference.

Pipe Major Darren Frew (McNeillstown Pipe Band) pictured receiving the Grade 4A first place trophy

It was good to see the Dr. Wright Memorial from Newtownards return to competition after an absence of four years, McNeillstown had it all to themselves in Grade 4A and also caused a bit of an upset by taking Grade 3B. Drumlough continued their local winning sequence beating off the challenge of Matt Boyd Memorial and the junior band of the Major Sinclair Memorial. Manorcunningham had a stellar day winning both the Grade 1 and 2 competitions. The drum majors turned out in good numbers with Alicia Dickson Hamilton breaking Jason Price’s recent winning sequence. Emma Barr continued to dominate the Juvenile section with Jaime Cupples and Leanne Crooks taking the honours in the Junior and Novice respectively. Full results from the Antrim Championships here.

William Black (Mannorcunningham Pipe Band) pictured receiving the Grade 2 first place trophy

Don’t forget that next Saturday 22nd July sees the Ulster Pipe Band Championships return to the scenic grounds of Antrim Castle Gardens. There is an entry of 45 bands and 48 drum majors. Those who attend the contests in motor homes should note that no overnight parking will be allowed in the Antrim Castle Gardens however parking is available at the nearby Lough Shore Caravan Park [Tel.02894464963] which is a leisurely 10 minute walk away.

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PP Editor’s Blog: Big Games Weekend/ Trust Job/ Wallace Website/ Mgt. Bennett/ All-Irelands

Big weekend of games ahead. Some say it is the start of the games season proper (it is the Glasgow Fair holiday period) though there have been plenty of good contests running since the end of May. Tomorrow we have piping at Balloch, Inverness and Tomintoul and on Sunday at Roseneath. Check here for results as we get them.

Next week we have Inveraray on Tuesday, South Uist on Wednesday, Tobermory and the Benbecula Young Piper on Thursday, North Uist on Friday 21st, and on Saturday July 22nd Lochearnhead, Taynuilt and Airth. A busy time for pipers and I hope as many as possible will get out for a tune. The games are an important nurturing ground and we have seen a decline in attendance in recent years at some of them. I would urge pipers to support the smaller games in particular.

A good tune/ performance here is just as important as at any of the graded events, sometimes more so when you consider that at Inveraray the tunes are given out a week beforehand. What kind of test is that? Results from there may be judged accordingly. Contrast that with Braemar where it’s eight tunes given one before or sometimes at the judges’ table.

Pipers worry that even if they win at the wee games, the CPA’s Grading Committee pay their success no heed. Well, why not record your playing on your phone in your sporran and send it to the grading committee if and when required to bolster your case?

The weather forecast for this weekend is not too promising but high pressure is predicted to build across Scotland into next week so sunny skies – maybe.

I forgot to include this photograph from my trip to St Petersburg in Russia earlier this year. Spotted in a shop window was this Jeremy Corbyn lookalike. I suspect the UK Labour Party leader would not be seen dead in the garb of a Tower of London beefeater, though I believe some of his political opponents will say that that is exactly where he should be sent.

The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust is seeking an experienced part-time marketing professional to take forward their Communications and Campaign strategy.
The post is for three days per week. Salary £25,000 to £32,000 depending on experience. Bonus and pension contribution of up to 10%. Flexible hours and some work from home are possible. Full details are at

One of our advertisers, Wallace Bagpipes, have a smart new website (still shot above) which is worth checking out. Craig Munro, the company’s Production Director, writes: ‘We’re excited to announce that our new and refreshed website is now live! The updated site includes changes to navigation, with drop-down menus for both mobile and desktop versions. We’ve also improved the structure of our content, so you’ll get to where you want to be quicker. Please feel free to browse our new site and any feedback is welcomed.’

Margaret Bennett
Bumped into Margaret Bennett, mother of the sadly missed piper Martyn, the other day and she is still continuing her great work promoting traditional music and song. Margaret has a masterclass workshop tomorrow at Ochtertyre near Crieff featuring two star musicians, flute player and singer Cathal McConnell and singer Michelle Burke. Good luck with that Margaret and keep up the good work:

John Kelly has sent some additional pictures to go with his earlier feature on the All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships. The picture top shows the Dromara Pipe Band, All-Ireland Champions in 1949. Personnel were: L to R:  (front row)  Hugh Steele, Irvine Woods, J.M. Spence, S.J. Spence, James A. Campbell, Victor McManus, S. McManus (Pipe Major), M. Johnston, S. M. Woods, R. Nelson and H. Nelson.  (back row) J. Maguire, R.S. Dickson, W.W. Woods, S.J. McManus, J McAdam, H. Murray, J.B. McDowell, W.J. Barlow, A. Sherlock and S. McDowell.

John has also included this picture (above) of Joe McAdam and Samuel Woods who played with Dromara at the first ever All-Irelands in Dublin in 1946. Joe and Sam were pictured at the Craigavon Championships held in Lurgan Park last month still enjoying their pipe band music.