Wednesday 16 January 2019

Action packed national Pipe Band championships announced

David Looby

The town of New Ross can look forward to a great weekend of music and colour from July 6 to July 8 when the All Ireland Pipe Band Championships visit the town for the fourth time.

Previously held in 1972, 1978 and 2014, the championships bring between 50 and 60 pipe bands (approximately 1200 musicians) to town to compete for the most coveted prizes on the island of Ireland.

The All Ireland Championships date back to 1945 when Eddie McVeigh from Belfast paid a post-war visit to Dublin. While walking near O'Connell street, he heard the sound of a pipe band playing. On following the sound, he came across the famed Fintan Lalor Pipe Band who were practicing in the ITGWU Trade Union hall just off Parnell Square.

After a jovial discussion regarding whether the North or the South had the best pipe bands, it was decided to jointly organise a pipe band contest between the Northern Ireland bands and the bands from the Republic of Ireland.

So it was that the first All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships was organised in Iveagh Gardens in Dublin in 1946 and was duly won by the Fintan Lalor Pipe Band from Dublin. Since then, the championships have taken place every year. The championships are held in Northern Ireland and the Republic on alternate years. Last year they were held in Lurgan, County Armagh and this year they are being held in the town park in New Ross.

As well as an expected large contingent of bands from Northern Ireland, three bands are expected from overseas - two bands from the Saint Colmcille United Gaelic Pipe Band from Kearny, New Jersey, USA and the St John's Pipe Band from Newfoundland, Canada.

The weekend will kick off with a short parade of the visiting bands from overseas as well as the local New Ross and District Pipe Band at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 6. The bands will perform as a massed pipe band outside the Dunbrody Centre where they will be officially welcomed by members of the New Ross Municipal District and Wexford County Council.

Activities begin in earnest on Saturday morning, July 7, at 9 a.m. when bands begin to arrive for the competition which will boost the local economy over the weekend.

Competitions begin formally at 11 a.m. in three different arenas in the town park and culminate at 5 p.m. with a march past of all the competing bands followed by a massed pipe band performance and a parade of bands from the park to the Dunbrody Centre.

The entire event is free to the public as it is being sponsored by Wexford County Council.

The local New Ross and District Pipe Band will have two bands competing on the day (comprising of 60 musicians from 10 years of age to over 60).

The senior band will compete for the first time at the very high playing level of Grade 2 while the 'B' Band will compete in Grade 4B. The local band has won the All Ireland Championships on three occasions and has been runner up on four occasions. The band's drummers have won the Best Drum Corp prize at the championships on five occasions.

New Ross Standard