70th anniversary celebrations for the St Colman’s Pipe Band
The Presentation Centre in Enniscorthy provided the setting recently for the 70th anniversary celebrations of St Colman's Pipe Band.
The Ballindaggin based group is highly regarded within music circles across the south east region and that fact was acknowledged at the event.
The band began when a group of young local men were inspired after a visit to the Astor cinema in Enniscorthy at Christmas time.
Those founder members included Thomas Cloney, Martin Rafter, John Furlong and Hugh Doyle.
They had been impressed by the music of a pipe band competition on screen and they were also inspired by the 150th anniversary celebrations of the 1798 Rebellion that they had witnessed earlier that year.
In 1949, a band was formed, including: Martin Rafter, Tom Cloney, Thomas Cowman, Owen Cloney, Hugh Doyle, Paidin Doyle, Peter Murphy, James Jordan, Pat Stafford, Pat McCann, Dick O'Neill, Pat Kehoe, Michael Tobin, Thomas Doyle, Peter Furlong, Jimmy Dunne, Mick Byrne, Liam Jordan, Owen Doyle, Thomas Bolger, Pat Forrestal, Pat Breen and Owen Keating.
The Cathaoirleach of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council, Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan, addressed the anniversary event and highlighted the fact that a civic reception is the highest honour that the local authority can bestow on any organisation or individual.
In celebrating the achievements of the band she said its members, over the last 70 years, had been 'an integral part of the social and community fabric tradition in Ballindaggin and the wider Enniscorthy district'.
The band made its first public appearance at the Seamus Rafter commemoration in Enniscorthy in 1950.
The band progressed rapidly and obtained uniformed attire in addition to expanding its repertoire and equipment.
One of the highlights of the band's early career was performing at the all-Ireland fleadh ceoil when it was held up the road in Gorey in 1962.
In the 1960s the band welcomed women into its ranks for the first time with people like Mary Cowman and Marion Cody paving the way for many other women to follow.
The 1970s was a difficult time for the band but in 1989 the members performed in Enniscorthy to mark the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day and after that a new committee was formed and pipes that hadn't been played regularly for a decade were blown again.
In 1993 the band performed for President Mary Robinson in Enniscorthy and then five years later things got really busy for the 1798 bicentenary year.
The band joined pikemen groups and other bands that year to participate in 48 different parades.
In 2014 the band purchased new kilts adopting an Irish tartan design.
In her address Cllr Codd-Nolan said the local authority is 'very proud of the pipe band whose members have accommodated all requests to perform on notable occasions such as 1798 bicentenary year, the 1916 Easter rising commemorations, and St Patrick's Day parades.
'Not only has the St Colman's Pipe band travelled to represent Ballindaggin and Enniscorthy District at county and other events; they have been recognised internationally having travelled to cities such as Chicago, New York, Birmingham, and London over the years,' said Cllr Codd-Nolan.
She praised the leadership of Patricia Brooks, Jack Cowman and Jim Byrne and said under their mentorship the band has served as 'an inspiration' for local young people.
She finished her address by congratulating the band, its chairman, Pat Armstrong, and past and present members who, she said, were ambassadors for Enniscorthy at local and international level.
The Ballindaggin Pipe Band is an institution in its home parish and with younger members getting involved it's future looks pretty secure.