Last night Gilnahirk was treated to its first ever celebration of Burns Night (albeit a day after actual Burns Night) at the Jack Britton Halls.
The night proved to be a great success with the hall jammed full of enthusiastic supporters and friends from all across Northern Ireland.
The support from Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church was clear for all to see - and is very much appreciated by the Band. We have had a long association with the Church and the help from that source in running the event was extremely welcome. The Band was pleased to see the Minister, Rev Stephen Moore enjoying the evening and he was good enough to say Grace before the feasting began.
Special mention should also go to Colin McRoberts who helped out with both the lighting and sound on the night.
The evening folllowed a fairly typical Burns Night format. We had been able to secure the services of Matthew Warrick from the Ulster Scots Community Network, who kicked off proceedings with a vigorous delivery of the Address to a Haggis and the Selkirk Grace.
The most important part of the evening then followed - the food! Haggis, Neeps and Tatties were the predictable but delicious dishes on offer, courtesy of Chef-for-the-night and bass drummer, Michael Harrison. Dessert was trifle, with tea/coffee and shortbread. Judging by the near-spotless plates collected afterwards, the supper went down well.
The programme of entertainment then started, with Matthew being good enough to act as compere and all round genial host.
The first performers were Lara and Leoni, the Highland Dancers, introduced by Olive Dobson. Their display was energetic, informative and well-received by the attentive crowd.
Following them came Iain Carlisle and David McComb, on the accordions. With plenty of familiar tunes and some new ones too, they really got feet tapping and pulses racing round the hall - the boys may have got themselves a few new groupies!
After a quick costume change, the dancers returned for a brief reprise and then Thelma, our Chairman's wife announced the results of the hotly contested Burns Night Quiz and distributed the prizes.
Finally, the Band took to the stage for a run through some of the Pipe Band classics, to warm applause from the crowd. It was gratifying to hear the appreciative remarks made by some of the pipe band afficionados in the audience!
The evening wound up with a boisterous rendition of Auld Lang Syne, led by Iain and David on the accordions and the crowd lingered a while to chat and renew acquaintences before drifting home.
Then began the clear up! The Band has to thank all those friends who stayed behind to help with the less glamourous side of any event!
Major thanks from the membership of the Band have to go to Michael Harrison who, along with his bass drumming duties was the driving force behind the whole event. He dealt with the cookery almost single-handed and it is fair to say that, without him the Night simply wouldn't have come together.
The Band pulled together well to set up the Hall, welcome our guests and perform table-waiting duties. Special mention should also go to Sam and Mrs Kerr who provided the "favours" of tartan brooches for the ladies and heather for the gentlemen.
The thanks would not be complete without a word for our Chairman, Stephen Jackson, who found himself pulled in every direction as the "go to guy" when anyone had a query or problem. If you need to see an example of how to be cool under pressure, look no further!
So, thanks to all who helped, attended, donated and clapped and cheered in the appropriate places - we really enjoyed entertaining you - and let's hope we see you all again soon!