independent

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Colourful spectacle as pipe bands hit right note in finals

David Looby

Published 12/07/2014 | 12:00

Nigel O’Neill of the New Ross and District Pipe Band is presented with the 3rd place prize in Grade 3 by Victor Furness, Chairman of the Organising Committee.

FORTY-EIGHT pipe bands from across Ireland created a fantastic atmosphere in the town on Saturday, with thousands of people descending on the area creating a great boost to the local economy.

Saturday saw possibly the most colourful event seen in the history of New Ross take place in the town park with the staging of the 69th All Ireland Pipe Band Championships. 48 pipe bands from the North and South of Ireland put on their best displays in their bids to be crowned All Ireland Champions in the various grades. The event, which saw Gorey Pipe Band win in the Grade 5 event, was hosted by the local New Ross and District Pipe Band and it was sponsored by New Ross Town Council and Wexford County Council.

The project also received major support from the New Ross Chamber of Commerce.

Brian MacMahon of the New Ross & District Pipe Band said: 'The town park looked resplendent for the event and great credit must go to the local council officials and workers for their fantastic contribution. The New Ross Men's Shed rowed in with 30 volunteers to help with stewarding and litter control and Eddie Wilde and the New Ross Gardaí contributed greatly to the efficient and safe organising of the day.'

The local organising committee of Matt and Bid Ryan, Tommy and Mary O'Connor, Victor Furness, Brian MacMahon, Dawn Morley, Trish O'Callaghan, David Doyle and Stephen Roche put months of work into the project and they were very gratified to see the event run so successfully and to hear the many very positive comments from Northern Ireland visitors in particular who were extremely impressed with the 'beautiful wee town of New Ross and its very friendly locals'.

Running in tandem with the pipe band event was a strongman competition organised by local strongman Nicky Whelan. Nicky volunteered his services to the local contest committee and organised a very successful fringe event which attracted many onlookers.

The contest was an historic day for the local New Ross and District Pipe Band who have won the All Ireland Championships three times in the past. For the first time in its history, the New Ross band fielded two separate bands, their senior band, which won third. Prize in grade 3A and its junior band which came a very credible seventh out of 15 bands in grade 5. Both bands were delighted with their performances and also with the very vocal and warm support of the New Ross spectators.

Mr MacMahon said that he hoped by staging the event in New Ross, locals would see just how much effort goes into competing in contests and how difficult it is to actually win an All Ireland.

The New Ross band have won two of the last three events and also won two World Championships and the Scottish Championships in the past two years.

'The New Ross band is aiming to be one of the top bands in Ireland and in their 40th year are well on the way to achieving that goal, competing now in the top 15 per cent of bands.'

There was a poignant moment at the end of the championships when a lament was played for players and supporters who had died since the last All Ireland and many of the New Ross band shed a tear for founding member and piper Nick Grace who sadly died in April. Nick's family were all present at the event.

Victor Furness, who initiated the proposal to bring the championships to New Ross, was given the honour of being the 'Chieftain of the Day' and he took the salute of the massed pipe bands at the end of the day whey the 48 bands played together. This was followed by a parade of bands to the Dunbrody centre to round off a fantastic day.

New Ross Standard

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