Tartan Talk: Final preparations for new season

Northern Ireland pipe band drum majors pictured at the Drum Major Competition at Sacramento Valley Highland Games in America which were held on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th April.
Northern Ireland pipe band drum majors pictured at the Drum Major Competition at Sacramento Valley Highland Games in America which were held on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th April.

The new pipe band season is just a week away with the first contest, the North Down Pipe Band Championships, which are to be held in the grounds of Bangor Castle Grounds, taking place on Saturday, May 16.

To help launch the new season of competitions, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland Branch (RSPBANI) have compiled an online selection of almost 300 photographs featuring pipe bands, pipe majors, drum majors and bass drummers which can be seen on the RSPBANI Facebook page.

Taken over the past few seasons by experienced photographer John Kelly, the main album entitled Pipe Band Competitions – looking back over the past few years, shows 129 photographs of some of the many pipe bands that have taken part in recent competitions.

Also included are the following three albums: Pipe Majors (63 photos), Pipe Band Drum Majors (67 photos) and Pipe Band Bass Drummers (32 photos).

They are excellent photographs and well worth taking a few minutes to look through.

I have been asked to publish a full list of the local competitions which are as follows: Bangor (Saturday, 16th May), Enniskillen (23rd May), Cookstown (Saturday, 6th June), Stormont (Saturday, 13th June), Lurgan (Saturday, 20th June), Omagh (Saturday, 4th July), Glenarm (Saturday, 18th July), Moira (Saturday, 1st August), Rostrevor (Saturday, 8th August) and Portrush (Saturday, 22nd August).

Fifteen drum majors and one piper from Northern Ireland took part in the Sacramento Valley Highland Games in America on Saturday, 25th and Sunday, 26th April.

Led by former world champion drum major Brian Wilson MBE, the team flew to San Francisco on Sunday, 19th April.

Before heading to Woodland, the venue for the games, the team enjoyed three days of sightseeing in San Francisco and Sacramento, including Alcatraz, Coit Tower, the world-famous San Francisco cable cars, Golden Gate Bridge, California State Capitol Building and the historic old town of Sacramento.

The Sacramento Valley Highland Games is a two-day event which attracted 40/50,000 people through the gates.

The local drum majors won five of the top six first places and 22 of the 24 prizes available overall. Brian Wilson, (Lomond & Clyde), Gemma McDowell (Tullylagan) and Lana Gibson (Major Sinclair Memorial) took first place in their respective grades on the first day while Emma Barr (PSNI) and Lana Gibson (Major Sinclair Memorial) won first places on the second day.

Jamie Gibson, a piper from Tandragee, enjoyed his trip taking first place in the open MSR section and second in the open hornpipe and jig competitions.

Results: Saturday, 25th April

Senior: 1st, Brian Wilson (Lomond & Clyde); 2nd, Alicia Dickson (Matt Boyd Memorial); 3rd, Andrea McKeown Battlehill; 4th, Vikki Singer (McDonald Memorial).

Juvenile: 1st, Gemma McDowell (Tullylagan); 2nd, James Kennedy (Whitewater), 3rd, Caitlin Graham (Upper Crossgare).

Junior: 1st, Lana Gibson (Major Sinclair Memorial); 2nd, Jason Nicholl (Tullylagan); 3rd, Kathryn McKeown (Battlehill); 4th, Darcey McIlroy (Raffrey).

Sunday, 26th April

Senior: 2nd, Andrea Gibson (Battlehill); 3rd, Lauren Hanna (Drumlough); 4th, Alicia Dickson (Matt Boyd Memorial).

Juvenile: 1st, Emma Barr (PSNI); 2nd, Gemma McDowell (Tullylagan); 3rd, James Kennedy (Whitewater); 4th, Caitlin Graham (Upper Crossgare).

Junior: 1st, Lana Gibson (Major Sinclair Memorial); 2nd, Jason Nicholl (Tullylagan); 3rd, Kathryn McKeown (Battlehill); 4th, Darcey McIlroy (Raffrey).

The senior overall winner was Andrea McKeown (Battlehill) and the Juvenile overall winner was Gemma McDowell (Tullylagan).