Pipe bands: St Laurence triumph in sunny Bangor

The seaside town of Bangor echoed with the sounds of pipes and drums on Saturday as the Northern Ireland contest season got under way with the Ards and North Down Championships.

Castle Gardens were bathed in sunshine throughout the day as more than 45 bands and their drum majors came together for a tartan invasion of music and colour.

Pipe Major Nigel Davidson and Bleary and District Pipe Band pictured entering the competition arena at the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships at Castle Grounds, Bangor on Saturday 14th May.

Pipe Major Nigel Davidson and Bleary and District Pipe Band pictured entering the competition arena at the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships at Castle Grounds, Bangor on Saturday 14th May.

The bands began playing at 11.30am and after 5pm they were parading onto the field for the finale and salute to the chieftain, Mayor Alan Graham, with the historic Bangor Town Hall providing an impressive back drop.

The honours in grade one went to St Laurence O’Toole with Field Marshal Montgomery in second place and Bleary and District third. St Laurence claimed the prizes for best drum corps and bass section while they shared the award for best pipes with Field Marshal.

The PSNI have settled into their stride nicely in grade 2 where they lifted first place and the prizes for best drums and bass section. PSNI shared the prize for best pipes with grade 2 newcomers Closkelt, who were placed second over all. Aughintober and Thiepval Memorial completed the top four.

In their usual grade of 3a, Aughintober dominated the prizes taking first place and the awards for best drums and bass section. Again the prize for best pipes was shared this time between Aughintober and second place Colmcille. Upper Crossgare and Raffrey were placed third and fourth respectively.

Pipe Major Alan Tully and St Laurence OToole Pipe Band pictured entering the competition arena at the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships at Castle Grounds, Bangor on Saturday 14th May.

Pipe Major Alan Tully and St Laurence OToole Pipe Band pictured entering the competition arena at the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships at Castle Grounds, Bangor on Saturday 14th May.

Matt Boyd Memorial, from Pomeroy, took top spot in grade 3b and the prize for best pipes ahead of Finvoy, who had the best drums. Ensemble preference separated Marlacoo & District in third from Major Sinclair Memorial in fourth.

Battlehill were the winners of grade 4a and had the best bass section. McNeilstown were second and lifted the prize for best pipes, while Portavogie took third and they had the best drums. Cullybackey claimed fourth place on ensemble preference from Cleland Memorial.

Gilnahirk were the dominant force in grade 4b claiming first place and the prizes for best pipes and drums. Gransha, William Kerr Memorial, Sgt Walker Memorial, Clontibret and Kildoag completed the top six.

Drum major titles went to Benjamin Walker (Battlehill); Jamie Cupples (Killeen); Lauren Abraham (Ballybriest) and Lauren Hanna (Drumlough).

Full results:

Grade 1: 1, St Laurence O’Toole, also best drums and bass; 2, Field Marshal Montgomery, also best M&D; 3, Bleary & District. Best pipes shared: St Laurence and Field Marshal.

Grade 2: 1, PSNI, also best drums, bass and M&D; 2, Closkelt; 3, Aughintober; 4, Thiepval Memorial. Best pipes shared: PSNI and Closkelt.

Grade 3a: 1, Aughintober, also best drums and bass; 2, Colmcille, 3, Upper Crossgare, 4, Raffrey. Best M&D: Syerla. Best pipes shared: Aughintober and Colmcille.

Grade 3b: 1, Matt Boyd Memorial, also best pipes and M&D; 2, Finvoy, also best drums; 3 on ensemble preference; Marlacoo & District; 4, Major Sinclair Memorial. Best bass: St Patrick’s Bandon.

Grade 4a: 1, Battlehill, also best bass and M&D; 2, McNeilstown, also best pipes; 3, Portavogie, also best drums; 4, ensemble preference, Cullybackey; 5, Cleland Memorial.

Grade 4b: 1, Gilnahirk, also best pipes and drums; 2,Gransha; 3, ensemble preference, William Kerr Memorial; 4, Sgt Walker Memorial; 5, Clontibret; 6, Kildoag. Best Bass: Youghal. Best M&D: Kirkistown.

Drum Majors

Novice: 1, Benjamin Walker, Battlehill; 2, Lee Nicholl, Tullylagan; 3, Louise Smiton, Closkelt; 4, Zara Cupples, Cullybackey; 5, Louis Anderson, Crozier Memorial.

Junior: 1, Jamie Cupples, Killeen; 2, Kathryn McKeown, Battlehill; 3, Rachel Lowry, Armaghbreague; 4, Jason Nicholl, Tullylagan; 5, Lucas Adamson, Gilnahirk.

Juvenile: 1, Lauren Abraham, Ballybriest; 2, Lana Gibson, Ballyboley; 3, James Kennedy, Whitewater; 4, Gemma McDowell, Tullylagan; 5, Lauren Freeburn, Marlacoo & District.

Adult: 1, Lauren Hanna, Drumlough; 2, Alicia Dickson, Matt Boyd Memorial; 3, David Brownlee, Derryclavin; 4, Paula Braiden, Cullybackey; 5, Andrea McKeown, Battlehill.