THE skirl of the pipes rang out as Eden Pipe Band celebrated the 25th anniversary of winning the World Championships Grade 2 at their silver jubilee reunion bash recently.
More than 100 past and present members and supporters gathered for a night of nostalgia in Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel as the heroes of 1987 took centre stage.
Special guest was Mr Fred Walker, president of the Northern Ireland branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, who recalled Eden’s unparalleled domination of Grade 2, culminating in winning the overall world title along with the Marching & Deportment award.
Mr Walker said Eden had always been a great community band, something which “was sadly lacking in many bands today”.
The evening’s programme included a slide show, old photographs and newspaper cuttings charting the band’s history from 1970 when the present Eden was formed.
Mr Ronnie Jack, M.C. for the night and band chairman in 1987, highlighted the contribution of three pipe majors - the late Tommy Barbour, Jackie Hamilton and David Caldwell - along with piper Percy Smith who had all been instrumental in the band’s rise through the ranks.
In 1987 Eden were also Champion of Champions in Northern Ireland, including all-Ireland drumming champions, but the almost perfect season will be best remembered for the achievements at Bellahouston Park.
A recording of their finest hour was followed by a reunion of pipers who rolled back the years with a selection of tunes from their all-conquering season. And the piping continued into the wee small hours as a number of top solo players who have worn the famous MacLean of Duart down the years strutted their stuff.
As a mark of respect to former members no longer with us, pipe major David Caldwell piped a lament after the reading of a list of deceased members.
Among those remembered were former presidents John Smith and John Walker; Drummers David Connor, Jackie McCausland, Bob Snoddy, Gordon Donnell, Uel Hamilton, Bertie Semple and Raymond Bell; Pipers Tommy Barbour (former pipe major), William Warnock, Charlie Hayes, Percy Smyth, Jim Gordon, John McNicholl, Willie Moore; and drum major William Hannigan.
But the big question everyone in pipe band circles is asking is are Eden going to make a return to the competition arena?
Former secretary Nigel Ballantine remains pragmatic: “It was a great night and a lot of old friendships - and rivalries - were renewed.
“Some of the online feedback has been very positive and there’s no doubting the talent at their disposal. Whether that is tapped into, only time will tell.”
n The World Drumming solos take place in Glasgow today and as always have attracted a strong entry of local drummers. I will have full results in next week’s Tartan Talk.
n The Competing Soloists’ Organisation’s ‘Young Player of the Year’ – a special invitational event for Under 15 year olds and 15–18 year olds will take place Friday next (October 26) in the clubrooms of Dungannon Rugby Football Club at Stevenson Park, Moy Road, Dungannon at 7pm.
n The next meeting of the Blackthorn Piping Society will be held in Thyme Square Bistro, Dromore, on Wednesday October 24 at 7.30pm.
n Cairncastle Ulster Scots will be launching a DVD & CD of their 2012 festival at their October Soiree, which will be held on Wednesday October 31 at 8.00pm in Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally (four miles north of Larne), with over 20 musicians attending including Grousebeaters, Western Lilt of Magherafelt and many more. for more information phone Bobby on 07774401935.