THE exact reason Co Down’s Seapatrick Flute was formed is unfortunately lost in the annals of history.
There is however, a record of the band having been in existence since 1873. They started with simple single key wooden melody flutes, but in the early 1900s they changed to part flute music. The outbreak of war in 1914 saw many of the members serving king and country and, with the band depleted in members, it reverted back to melody only to re-establish itself as part-music shortly after the war with the purchase of new flutes. These instruments amazingly remained in use in the band until 1979 when the band changed to their new silver flutes, in line with most other part-music flute bands of the time.
Since its formation the role of band conductor was held within the band, with Robert Martin and his son Herbie filling this role for close on 90 years between them, and Mr Samuel McCracken successfully filling in the interim period between the father and son.
Over the years the band has been in demand for performances at various events and functions and has played at various fetes, concerts, social and sporting events. In 1961 the band had the distinction of being featured in a television programme and was filmed playing the march ‘Senior Service’ while parading around Seapatrick.
In 1998 the band completed 125 years in existence and was honoured by the local council with a civic reception in the council chambers. In recognition of this special honour the band presented the council with one of its original flutes, specially mounted and in return the then chairman of the council presented the band with a special commemorative plaque.
When originally formed, most of its members were local mill workers, however with the closure of the mill in early 1960s, members came to be drawn from a wider area. Longevity has been a hallmark of band membership with many members achieving in excess of 50 years’ service and some upwards on 70 years’ active service.
The band is currently celebrating its 140th anniversary year, and new members are very welcome, irrespective of skills levels. Flute and drum learner/ improver classes take place in St Patrick’s Hall Seapatrick (the old village schoolhouse). For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.