TARTAN TALK: Large entry for Mid-Ulster event

Pipe Major Ian Burrows (left) and Drumlough Pipe Band pictured during the march past at the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships on Saturday 16th May.
Pipe Major Ian Burrows (left) and Drumlough Pipe Band pictured during the march past at the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships on Saturday 16th May.

The Mid-Ulster Section of the RSPBA NI Branch has attracted an entry of more than 40 bands and a similar number of drum majors for the Mid-Ulster Championships, which will be held today at the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena, Tullywiggan Road, Cookstown.

The Mid-Ulster Section was formed in 1954 and continues to go from strength to strength. It held its first contest on Saturday, July 2, 1955, at Killymoon Demesne.

Two grade one bands will compete this afternoon, namely Cullybackey and Ravara. Cullybackey were placed 11th at last weekend’s British Championships while for Ravara this is their first outing of the season.

Fresh from their win at Bathgate, Bleary & District will now be aiming to take control of grade 2 on home soil. Once again the PSNI, Manorcunningham and Thiepval Memorial will provide the opposition.

Eight bands will compete in the grade 3a competition with Aughintober, downgraded from two over the winter, playing first. Annsborough and Closkelt have already won this grade so far, while Ballybriest have been runners up twice and dominated the drumming prizes.

Just the four bands competing in grade 3b once again. There is a first contest for a number of years for Finvoy and they will join Colmcille, Upper Crossgare and Matt Boyd Memorial.

Marlacoo & District are currently the band to beat in grade 4a where they have recorded two wins so far. Nine bands make up the grade today.

Grade 4b has drawn a huge entry of bands - a total of 16 making it easily the biggest grade on the day.

The first band to play in this year’s Mid-Ulster Championships will be Kirkistown, under pipe major Joshua McKee, who will be on the line 11.45am.

The adjudicators today are John Wilson and Colin Moffett for piping, Sandy Steele on drumming and Ciaran Mordaunt drumming/ensemble.

The Chieftain of the Day is Jim O’Neill, from Coalisland, who is a well known and popular figure within the pipe band family.

Jim recently said: “My sincere thanks to the Mid-Ulster Section of The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland Branch for bestowing on me the honour of being your ‘Chieftain of the Day’. All the people who have supported the Mid-Ulster Section throughout its sixty-one years have to be commended for their commitment and dedication, which is necessary to reach such a milestone.”

Prizes will be presented by Paula Nugent, Coalisland, who is the daughter of the Chieftain of the Day.

A special fifty-two page souvenir programme has been produced and will be on sale at the contest. It includes a reproduction of the 1955 eight-page programme for the Mid-Ulster Championships to commemorate sixty years since the Mid-Ulster Section joined the Northern Ireland Branch.

Parking will be available, free of charge, at the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena car park which will facilitate vehicles belonging to officials, the disabled and the early birds while the rest of the cars, buses and mobile homes will be catered for, also free of charge, will be provided at the nearby Loughry College Campus car parks.

The RSPBANI Branch and the IPBA decided at their Joint Association Meeting to hold a tune composition competition to celebrate the 70th year of the All Ireland Championships.

The tune can be in any time signature and the prize will be a nickel silver McCallum Practice Chanter. Two well-known piping personalities will be the adjudicators.

Entries close on June 30 and the winner will be announced at the All Ireland Championships in Omagh on July 4.

This is an excellent idea and hopefully it will be well supported. Entries can be sent to Unit 34 Crescent Business Park, Ballinderry Road Lisburn, Co Antrim, BT28 2GN or alternatively by email to info@rspbani.org.