All Ireland Pipe Band Championships: Field Marshal Montgomery prove their mettle
New Ross, Co Wexford was the setting for the 73rd All Ireland championships organised by the Joint Association Committee (IPBA & RSPBANI) and what a great day it turned out to be.
Since its inception in 1946 this event has proved to be a model for cross-community/cross-island cooperation and friendship; however, I am not aware of it ever being recognised as such with an award of any description.
The large crowd of spectators, whilst enjoying scores of excellent performances, had to consider sheltering from the extreme heat that prevailed all day.
Top of the bill was the clash between Northern Ireland’s Field Marshal Montgomery and the Southern-based St Laurence O’Toole.
What a luxury it is for this island to have such excellent bands and what a treat it is to hear them perform.
In the first leg of the Grade 1 St Laurence took the honours by winning the March Strathspey & Reel section on ensemble preference. They followed that up with a superb Medley performance.
Surely they had the title in the bag; however, Field Marshal Montgomery, as they often do, produced an outstanding performance of their new medley and it was as they say a ‘beezer’. Well done to both bands, you provided superb entertainment.
In Grade 2 Closkelt saw off all challengers to win comfortably while St Joseph’s Clondalkin did the same in Grade 3A.
The visiting St Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band from the USA produced a shock by winning Grade 3B from St Mary’s Derrytrasna.
The McNeillstown success continued with a resounding victory in Grade 4A while Gransha once again dominated in Grade 4B.
In the drum majors the winners were Emma Barr (Adult), Rachel Lowry (Juvenile), Abigail Wenlock (Junior) and Carys Graham (Novice).
At the finale the massed bands played the Highland Laddie (the salute to the Chieftain who was councillor John Fleming MCC the Mayor of the New Ross Municipal District Council) and the Minstrel Boy. St Laurence O’Toole’s Kevin Rogers then played a lament which is an annual feature of each All Ireland, remembering those from the pipe band fraternity who have passed away since the previous event.
Con O’Conaill and Winston Pinkerton brought greetings from their respective associations and Winston invited everyone to Co Antrim in 2019 when the 74th event will be held in Ballymena.
IPBA secretary Johnny Sheehan then announced the results of the competition while at the close the New Ross & District played the National Anthem.
Grade 1: 1st Field Marshal Montgomery (also Best Pipes, Medley and Medley Drums), 2nd St Laurence O’Toole (also Best MSR, MSR Drums and Overall Drums).
Grade 2: 1st Closkelt (also Best Pipes, Drums and Mid-Section), 2nd Ravara, 3rd Manorcunningham, 4th New Ross & District (also Best M&D).
Grade 3A: 1st St Joseph’s Clondalkin (also Best Pipes, Drums and Mid-Section), 2nd Marlacoo & District, 3rd Drumlough (also Best M&D), 4th Thiepval Memorial.
Grade 3B: 1st St Columcille United Gaelic (also Best Pipes and Overseas Band), 2nd St Mary’s Derrytrasna (also Best Drums and Mid-Section), 3rd Tullylagan, 4th Clogher & District. Best M&D: Raffrey.
Grade 4A: 1st McNeillstown (also Best Pipes, Drums and Mid-Section), 2nd McDonald Memorial (also Best M&D), 3rd Cullybackey, 4th Cullen (on ensemble preference).
Grade 4B: 1st Gransha (also Best Pipes), 2nd Wicklow, 3rd Carlow, 4th Sgt Walker Memorial. Best Drums: Carrigaline (also Best Mid – Section). Best M&D: William Kerr Memorial. Best Overseas: Columcille USA.
Adult: 1st Emma Barr, 2nd Andrea McKeown, 3rd Alicia Dickson, 4th Vikki Singer, 5th James Kennedy.
Juvenile: 1st Rachel Lowry, 2nd Kara Gilmour, 3rd Jamie Cupples, 4th Kathryn McKeown, 5th Emily Crooks.
Junior: 1st Abigail Wenlock, 2nd Louis Anderson, 3rd Kathy Hunter, 4th Leanne Crooks, 5th Grace Thompson.
Novice: 1st Carys Graham, 2nd Louise Smiton, 3rd Ben Dickson, 4th Harry Mills, 5th Hannah Donald.