tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:/posts Gilnahirk Pipe Band 2019-07-31T12:42:15Z Gilnahirk Pipe Band tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/1079478 2016-08-07T22:00:02Z 2019-07-31T12:42:15Z Lisburn City & Castlereagh Championships 2016, Moira

The Final contest before the World Championships was scheduled for Moira - thankfully only a short jaunt away from Gilnahirk. Contests in Moira Demesne are generally pleasant affairs. It is a good venue with ample parking and a compact site which lends to a pleasant atmosphere. This year's competition was par for the course.

Grade 4b usually kicks off each Championships which means early starts for Gilnahirk week after week. A draw time close to noon will generally necessitate a warm up starting at 10am or so. Adding in traveling time to the more remote locations can play havoc with one's statutory right to a Saturday morning lie in. However, once or twice a year the Branch will take pity and give us a later kick off. This was one such time. The Band was drawn to play after 3pm - practically evening time!

Notwithstanding the late start, members generally arrived early enough to down the traditional breakfast baps and cups of tea long before a pipe was puffed or a drum belted.

Pre-competition practice was a generally relaxed affair and the Band strolled into final tuning in good shape. The performance was strong and melodic. The interplay between pipes and drums is an important feature of the judging - indeed there is an ensemble judge specifically tasked with taking a broader view of the whole band performance - and the Band has been continuing to work on delivering the most musical sets it possibly can.

Content with the performance, there was only time for a brief listen to Grade One before the Finale was underway. Once again, the contest was graced by an overseas presence - this time in the shape of New Zealand Police Pipe Band, en route to Glasgow next week.

As for the Finale - it could scarcely have gone better - the Band was placed First in the Grade and also lifted Best Drums and Best Bass Section. Drum Major Lucas Adamson placed second in his Grade. It felt like we had won the lottery!

Pipe Major Robert Greer formed the Band up to march off after the National Anthem and colleagues from other bands were rushing over to offer congratulations and wishing us all the best for the World Championships. No pressure!

One week to go - if you want to hear the sort of performance we need to repeat in Glasgow, here is our Moira run...

Wish us luck!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/1079472 2016-08-07T21:50:00Z 2016-08-07T21:50:01Z Ulster Championships 2016, Antrim Castle Gardens

After the All-Irelands came the Ulster Championships. This year's contest was to take place at a new venue - Antrim Castle Gardens. After some unhelpful scaremongering from Facebook trolls had raised concerns about parking facilities, Gilnahirk members took no chances and set off up the M2 Motorway in good time. In fact, the Northern Ireland Branch had come up trumps on the venue with good parking and a nice compact venue, close to the town.

Under the direction of Acting Pipe Major Robert Greer, the Band dodged the couple of showers and delivered a strong performance in a Grade which has been becoming steadily more competitive over the course of the season. After a few years of patchy performances it has been greatly encouraging for the Band to know that each time we enter the arena the crowd expects a musical and technically strong ensemble.

For the first time in a couple of contests, there was no qualification to negotiate, so with the performance out of the way members were free to hit the burger stalls and even risk the occasional ice cream.

With the World Championships now on the horizon, the contest was well attended by both bands and spectators and standards continue to increase as the trip to Glasgow looms.

Once again, the Band collected silverware - this time lifting Third place overall and winning the drumming. This makes our drum corps the current All-Ireland and Ulster Champions!

Only one more domestic contest remains before the Band sets off for Glasgow and the World Pipe Band Championships. The strong local showings this year have provided the ideal boost in the run up to the "Worlds" but the pressure in on to keep it up at our next outing in Moira - let's retain the momentum!

If you weren't there - or you just want to hear it again - here is the performance from the Ulster Championships...

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/1079469 2016-08-07T21:20:05Z 2016-08-07T21:20:05Z All Ireland Championships 2016, Malahide

It's something of an understatement to say that the preparation at Malahide was somewhat disrupted. A decision had been taken to travel down as a group on a bus - and the planning had been impeccable. All members arrived on time at the various pick up points and good time was made - even allowing for a brief refreshment stop at the Applegreen service station.

However, upon arriving in Malahide we discovered that the security staff were taking their job a little too seriously. They appeared to be securing the site to such an extent that they weren't going to have it contaminated with any competitors. Having been directed round in circles for about half an hour and at one point been told that the only bus parking available was about two miles from the field, the coach was eventually parked and members began the long hike to the arena.

At that stage two drummers had been abandoned elsewhere in the area and it looked like the Band could be competing in the qualifier with only three snare drummers.

This was not exactly the relaxed run up we had hoped for.

Nevertheless, the lost sheep were located, pipes were footered with and drums were tweaked before Gilnahirk hit the line. Despite the chaotic start to the day the Band delivered a confident performance and sat back to await the list of finalists.

Qualification secured, we didn't have long to wait before having to take to the circle again for the second panel of judges. Once again, there was a well-received musical performance and plenty of appreciative words from fellow competitors once we had played.

Facilities at the event were not up to usual standard and the day was plagued with frequent heavy showers, but members were hopeful of results that would make up for the trials of the day.

The Finale took place under clearing skies and the mood was certainly helped by the announcement that the Band had secured Fourth overall, won our qualifying section, collected Best Bass Section and the Drum Corps had been named All Ireland Champions!

To top it all, our Drum Major, Lucas Adamson had been crowned All Ireland Champion as well!

All in all, a successful day and plenty of smiling happy faces on the thankfully less eventful trip back to Belfast.

For those who didn't make it down, or perhaps spent their day circling the venue without actually getting in - here is the Band's performance in the Final for your enjoyment...

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/1079463 2016-08-07T20:57:31Z 2016-08-07T20:57:31Z United Kingdom Championships 2016, Stormont

Glancing at an overcast sky and nervously checking the weather forecast every few minutes, members of Gilnahirk saddled up and set off for the most local of local contests at the Stormont Estate in Belfast.

Although just round the corner from Gilnahirk, the Stormont contest is one of the "Majors" organised by the parent body for piping and drumming - the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association. Alongside the other major Championships it forms part of the league of contests which contribute to the RSPBA Champion of Champions competition and thus attracts all the superstar bands from Scotland to compete alongside the local talent.

In fact, this year the draw had extended even further afield with Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band from Canada making the trip to Belfast - our Mid Section players were quick to make new friends!

Such was the draw of the competition that Gilnahirk's grade had attracted enough entrants to require a qualifying competition. Thankfully spared the worst of the rain showers in the morning, the Band successfully negotiated the heat to make it through to the afternoon final.

Once again, the Grade 4b Final was scheduled alongside the Grade One contest, which meant that only our diehard fans were there to see the Band perform for the second group of Judges in one day.

It was perhaps fair to say that the Band had actually acquitted itself slightly better in the qualification than in the Final, but it was still a reasonably solid performance and, given the lateness of the hour, there wasn't long to wait before we got to hear the verdict from the four men with the judging pens.

Third place was secured and the drummers achieved a highly creditable second place, under the impressive leadership of Leading Drummer Colin Fullerton. The Drum Corps has seen consistent improvement and the results have really started to attract attention over the season to date.

Here is the performance from the Final to mull over...

It is perhaps a reflection of how far the Band has come that the third place almost represented a slight disappointment. At the same contest last year, fourth place had been achieved and sent the band into raptures - this year, sights are set even higher.

Onwards and upwards!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/1062066 2016-06-10T19:07:27Z 2016-06-10T19:07:27Z Mid-Ulster Championships 2016, Cookstown

It was with a loud collective sigh of relief that the men and women of Gilnahirk set off for Cookstown High School on 4 June 2016. After a couple of years of exile at the soulless Mid Ulster Sports Arena, the championships had returned to the altogether more pleasant surroundings at Coolnafrankey.

Having been directed to park around thirty miles from the playing fields, it was merely a 45 minute trot at a brisk pace before the Band emerged through the bushes to the splendid sight of the array of burger vans and sweetie vendors.

After the traditional million calorie breakfast treats, practice began in earnest. The Grade was as competitive as ever and nerves were jangling as Gilnahirk took to the line. The performance was solid and musical and the sages in the crowd were once again stroking their beards appreciatively. For the second successive week, Grade 4b was limited to only two judges - one piping and one drumming.

Instruments were hastily abandoned and further sustenance was located. Burgers were consumed with gusto. Minerals were slurped. The occasional shandy was gently supped.

Once again, we have a little video to let you all get a notion of the generalised chaos which passes for a Band contest....

After the Grade One contest had wound up, the Finale zipped through quite efficiently. In what we believe may be a World first, the Band used a 360 degree camera to record the March Past - you can see that video on our Facebook page - where is really seems to have gone down a storm!

Hearts were in mouths as the results were called. Our Drum Major, Lucas Adamson again secured a prize - lifting fifth in the Junior Grade from a tight field of fifteen.

It was clearly a good omen as the Band itself was then called not once, but three times in the Grade 4b results!! It is fair to say that collecting first overall, Best Bass Section and Best Marching & Deportment made it a pretty good day at the office - and a great result in advance of the United Kingdom Championships at Stormont next week.

Have a listen to what the Judges clearly enjoyed...

A week of hard work lies ahead, in advance of the biggest contest on Northern Ireland shores this year - if you have never seen a Major contest before, give yourself a treat and come along to see us just down the road from Gilnahirk!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/1059477 2016-06-03T20:25:00Z 2016-06-03T20:25:00Z County Fermanagh Championships 2016, Enniskillen

In a quite deliberate attempt to confuse the more easily bewildered bandsmen, Northern Ireland Branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association conspired with the powers that be to hold a contest in Enniskillen without any rain last weekend. There were rumours that the start of proceedings might have to be delayed due to large numbers of participants who had been unable to locate the venue as they had "never seen it in sunshine".

The men and women of Gilnahirk are not so easily foxed and stripped off their galoshes to warm up in conditions which were positively....warm!

With an almost full compliment of players available, Pipe Major Tate took the Band to the line in good time and in good tune. For the first of two successive contests, the judging contingent in Grade 4B was limited to just a single piping and single drumming mandarin. Nevertheless, the amateur adjudicators in the crowd indulged in their traditional chin-stroking and pronounced themselves impressed.

Satisfied with a strong run, the members scattered across the field to listen to other bands and eat as many burgers as possible. These tasks were accomplished with some style.

Unusually, we have put together another video to let you all have a flavour of the day...

The Contest ran like clockwork and soon it was time for the results. The Band collected two awards this time round, with third in the Grade and also the Marching and Deportment gong.

For those who were unable to make it, here is the performance in all its splendour...

The roadshow rolls on, with the next stop in Cookstown on 4 June - see you there!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/1051290 2016-05-15T15:17:00Z 2016-05-15T15:17:01Z Ards & North Down Championships 2016, Bangor

After a hard Winter's practice and a disappointingly soggy trip to Lusk, the Band was pleased to kick off the 2016 season proper close to home in the sunny surroundings at Castle Gardens, Bangor.

Pipe Band contests always seem that little bit better in sunshine and although it got a little chilly by the end of the day, there was barely a cloud in the sky.

The day kicked off with the drummers making their traditional trip to the food vans for the "breakfast of champions" - which seems to consist of an entire fry in a bap. After they were hosed down to remove the grease the corps set about the more serious business of the warm-up. The pipers were already in full flow, footering with reeds and yanking drones hither and thither.

Content with sound and with nerves jangling, the Band took to the line shortly after 12.30pm in a massive Grade 4b. Playing early in the Grade gave members a chance to join the surrounding chin-strokers in the crowd to size up the opposition. Although Grade 4b is the bottom of the ranking system, it has been becoming consistently more competitive over recent years and it seems that 2016 will continue that pattern with a lot of strong outfits on display.

The set concluded with a healthy round of applause from an appreciative audience and, with the work done, members roamed through Bangor in search of sustenance and renewing old acquaintances.

As usual, the social part of the day was at least as much fun as the playing. Again, it all seems that bit nicer in sunglasses, rather than sou'westers!

The Finale and speeches were mercifully rapid and then came the business of the results. Wise heads in the crowd had tipped the Band for a prize but nothing can be taken for granted until the name gets called!

One good omen was when Lucas Adamson, the Band's Drum Major, was called with a handy fifth place in the Junior Grade. It's great to see Lucas continue to develop in what is only his second year in this division.

Then it was over to the Band results - in first place - GILNAHIRK! The cheers had barely subsided when the Pipe Major had to return to the front to pick up the cup for best piping! Not to be outdone, the drummers scooped the prize for Best Drum Corps! A clean sweep! It was perhaps particularly pleasing to hear that the ensemble judge had also placed the Band first - an endorsement of the tight integration between all sections.

Understandably, the ranks rapidly degenerated into flagrant celebration - pipers and drummers aggressively grabbing cups from eachother for the opportunity to have their photos taken! Even the Pipe Major cracked a smile at one point!

All in all, it was a fantastic start to the local contest season and a solid base to build on. Congratulations to Pipe Major Carson Tate, Pipe Sergeant Robert Greer and Leading Drummer Colin Fullerton who have steered the Band back to the top of the Grade. Plenty more hard work is required to keep us there!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/960725 2016-01-01T20:17:51Z 2016-01-01T20:17:54Z Happy New Year!

With 2015 receding in the rear-view mirror and 2016 looming large, the Band would like to wish all supporters, friends and family a Happy and Musical 2016.

2015 was a good year for the band with a return to the prizes on a frequent basis and a great improvement in musical performance. We have already seen a boost in membership and practices have been solidly attended over the early months of the off-season. That's not to say that there is any sign of complacency creeping in and there remains a lot of hard work to be done if the Band is to continue to progress this year.

The Contest season will be upon us sooner than you think - and we have a few bits and pieces in the pipeline before then - keep your eyes on the website and Facebook page to stay in the loop!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/960724 2016-01-01T20:12:11Z 2016-01-01T20:12:33Z Annual General Meeting 2015

The Band met on 31st August to conduct the business of the Annual General Meeting at the end of a successful 2015 season.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the AGM was a good natured affair, with an opportunity to reflect on the best season which the Band has enjoyed in over a decade. 2014 had ended with the Band collecting a prize at the Lowland Gathering - the only trophy collected that year.

2015 had seen that success improved upon massively with prizes picked up at almost every contest attended. Perhaps the highlight of the season had been the Fourth place achieved at the United Kingdom Championships in the Stormont Estate. This was the first time the Band had secured a placing at one of the "Major" championships since 2000.

It was no surprise then to hear that the leadership team in the Band was returned unopposed to office. Pipe Major Carson Tate and Leading Drummer Colin Fullerton had shown their dedication throughout the season and had been wholeheartedly supported through the ranks. Pipe Sergeant Robert Greer completed the musical team and his return to the Band had played a vital part in the Gilnahirk resurgence.

Much of the time at the meeting revolved around discussion of how to continue to build on this year's success and the enthusiasm on display would bode well for another great season in 2016.

After the formal part of the evening, there was the traditional adjournment to the kitchen for a light supper and a lot of happy smiling (and well fed) faces left the hall, determined to see Gilnahirk continue its path to the top of the pile once again!


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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/959454 2016-01-01T20:01:23Z 2016-01-01T20:18:50Z Lowland Gathering 2015, Stranraer

After a successful local competition season, the Band was delighted to be able to return to Stranraer to round off 2015 in style. Last year's Lowland Gathering had seen Gilnahirk lift its first playing trophy in some time and set the Band on the path to more winning ways. Naturally, it was with a sense of enthusiasm that the trip was planned.

Predictably, the bulk of that enthusiasm lay in tatters as the ragged group assembled in the wee small hours outside the hall. The forecast was gloomy at best and the prospect of a rough crossing was ahead. After wiping the worst of the sleep from eyes and dosing with anti-seasickness medication, the bus was boarded and Gilnahirk departed for the docks.

Thankfully, the Met Office's pessimism was not well-founded and the ferry set off on relatively calm seas. Band members soon commandeered the best spots on the boat for a hearty breakfast and a crafty power nap.

Arriving in Stranraer it was just a few more minutes on the bus to the contest field. Members decanted to the field, still bleary-eyed and in search of further sustenance. Given the early start, the locals were assembling the arena but thankfully some of the caterers were already up and running, so bacon butties were acquired and devoured with gusto.

Pipes and drums in hand, the Band started to warm up - under surprisingly pleasant skies. The Met Office had been predicting howling wind and rain but, thus far, all seemed set fair and the pipes were going strong. As is now usual on the Stranraer trip, the Band had quite a number of friends and supporters along with it for the day, so there was plenty of help and encouragement available.

It was still early, so there was a chance for another comfort break or two before Gilnahirk was scheduled to take to the ring. At the appointed hour, the Band entered the arena and again delivered a solid performance to an appreciative crowd.

This year, instead of heading en masse to a local hotel for food, members milled about the field and enjoyed the hospitality of the adjacent bowling club for much of the rest of the afternoon. A few brave souls entered the town, in search of haggis...

The Finale was a well organised and good-natured affair. The Band's Drum Major, Lucas Adamson, again finished off his season picking up some well-deserved silverware and the Band was pleased to receive the Clan Hannay Shield for the second year in succession, once again finishing just behind the local band, Lochryan. Still, a nice second place to finish off the season is nothing to grumble about! It was also gratifying to see the ranks of the Band swell again with the addition of Sullivan Hodgen to the Drum Corps. Hopefully this is the start of a long career with Gilnahirk...

Although the weather had held for the day itself, the rain started to team down as the Band hit the port. Thankfully, the wind held off, which made for a pleasant enough crossing back to Belfast. Smiling faces were the order of the evening as the bus pulled up to the Church Hall. Not a bad end to the 2015 season at all - and something to build on in 2016...

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/958307 2015-12-27T22:22:21Z 2015-12-29T11:11:02Z North West Championships 2015, Portrush

The end of season shindig at Portrush has become quite the fixture in the contest calendar over the past few years. There is the chance to congratulate those bands who topped the tree at the World Championships the week before - and even the possibility of some fine end of August weather - if you're really lucky.

As is now customary, Northern Ireland bands performed admirably at the Worlds and there was a healthy amount of silverware on display - but there was still the small matter of the North West Championships to resolve before the concentrated back slapping could commence and the ice creams could be consumed.

After battling through the traffic to get a parking space close to the Recreation grounds the Band warmed up under grey skies. Perhaps surprisingly the Portrush Grade was even bigger than had been the case at the Ulster Championships, so there was plenty of competition for space.

Another solid performance was delivered and the Band members soon scattered to the corners of Portrush for refreshment and the exchange of end of season gossip.

The Finale was a drawn out affair with the announcement of Champion of Champion winners alongside the winners on the day. Another fourth place was the result for the Band - as well as a fourth in drumming from a Grade of eighteen. Perhaps as pleasing was the fact that the Band achieved third place in the Champion of Champions - the "league" over the course of the year. That sort of consistency has eluded Gilnahirk in recent times and delivery of solid performances throughout the year is a definite sign that the corner has been turned and the Band is once again ready to challenge for the top honours, week in , week out.

The parade of the town was the usual stop-start affair - as was the traffic jam leaving the town....

It's all over for most Bands at this point - but not for Gilnahirk. Next week will see the Band on the ferry to Stranraer to visit with our friends at the Lowland Gathering once again - can't wait!!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/958291 2015-12-27T21:51:02Z 2015-12-27T21:51:03Z Ulster Championships 2015, Rostrevor

After a gap of quite a few years, the Northern Ireland Branch made a welcome return to the picturesque surroundings of Rostrevor for the Ulster Championships on Saturday, 8th August.

In keeping with the rest of this summer's dreary weather, the day started in a less than promising fashion, but the rain largely held off - perhaps just as well, given the relatively exposed venue.

Gilnahirk had been drawn to play in the middle of the pack of fifteen  bands - the Ulster Championships always brings a good number of outfits to the field. After a fairly relaxed warmup, the Band strode into the arena to deliver a solid and confident performance. It was all in the hands of the judges from that point.

A decent Grade One turnout meant that there was plenty to watch for the avid bandsman and the usual top quality Gilnahirk catering meant that all were well fed and content by the time the Finale came round.

The Band was not to be disappointed. A tidy fourth place was the verdict from the judging panel - and this included the second best piping scores in the Grade. It was another step in the right direction for a Band which continues to improve with every performance.

Nest week will see a lot of Northern Ireland bands head to Glasgow for the World Pipe Band Championships but sadly we won't be joining them. Logistical reasons have meant that the Band's return to Glasgow Green will be delayed for another year, but we wish all our compatriots all the best - bring back plenty of silverware folks!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/891381 2015-08-07T20:42:56Z 2015-08-07T20:42:56Z Lisburn City & Castlereagh Championships 2015, Moira

Buoyed by the last couple of Championships, the Band hit the road again for the next stop in the 2015 season last Saturday. The location was Moira Demesne which hadn't hosted a contest in some years.

After a season which has so far been characterised by fairly miserable weather, members made sure to pack their capes and headed off up the M1. The venue was probably better than most remembered and having had the now traditional squads of fluorescent-jacketed council employees engaged in choreographed pointing at car parking spaces, vehicles were skidded to a halt and instruments unpacked.

Initially the skies appeared pleasingly blue and the Band started to warm up in pleasant temperatures to appreciative nods from supporters. Pipes were sounding well and drummers were playing nicely after their traditional bacon baps.

Soon it was time to play and, as if on cue, the weather started to turn. As the Band took to the line the first rain of the day started to fall and continued to mizzle its way through the entire performance. The men and women of Gilnahirk are made of stern stuff and delivered a strong performance, drawing one of the loudest rounds of applause in the Grade.

Of course, as soon as the playing was out of the way the weather improved again - typical! The catering corps in the Band had delivered a fantastic pot of Lentil soup for lunch, together with a selection of pies which seemed to draw a number of non-members towards the van.... It seems that the reputation of the Gilnahirk food is reaching far and wide...

The rest of the day was the usual mixture of listening to other bands, gossiping with other bandsman about the upcoming World Championships and complaining about the weather (a pattern is emerging).

Sadly, the say finished with something of a whimper. A fairly substantial difference of opinion in the piping judges left the Band just out of the prizes in Sixth, with the drummers finishing a creditable Fourth despite only fielding three players due to work commitments.

No matter - we are dusting ourselves off and getting ready for the next outing in Rostrevor on the 8th of August - in the meantime, have a listen to the performance and judge for yourselves...

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/888793 2015-07-31T20:44:39Z 2015-07-31T20:44:40Z Portaferry Gala Parade 2015

For the second year running, the Band was delighted to be asked to participate in the closing parade for Portaferry Gala week. It is always pleasant to receive an invitation to any event, but it is particularly gratifying to be asked back - it suggests that the previous showing was appreciated!

The theme for Band outings in 2015 has seemed to be a sense of foreboding about the weather and even Frank Mitchell on UTV was looking nervous about how the evening would pan out. We should have known better. After all, Frank Mitchell is wrong about almost everything...

The parade was the usual stop/start affair and took over a couple of hours to snake its way through the town. The crowds were heavy and appreciative which is a pleasant combination.

Slightly peculiarly, we even recruited a few enthusiastic locals into the ranks. What they lacked in musical ability they more than made up for with rowdiness!

The additions to the ranks did not only come from the local community. The more eagle-eyed spectator may have noticed a well known bass drummer making a guest appearance on the pipes. Very odd. Very odd indeed.

Perhaps the high point of the evening was the fact that piper Jeremy was making his first appearance in the MacDuff tartan. Jeremy has been with the Band throughout the winter and it was great to see him on the street for the first time. Well done!

The evening concluded with the obligatory visit to the Chip Shop for some healthy low fat cuisine and then the long trip home. Hopefully we can do it all again next year....

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/888787 2015-07-31T20:10:37Z 2015-07-31T20:10:38Z All Ireland Championships 2015, Omagh

After receiving a huge boost to confidence at the UK Championships, the Band was on the road again for the All Ireland Championships. As the largest of the "local"contests, the All Ireland always carries with it an additional frisson of excitement.

However, as bleary eyed bandsmen stumbled from their beds and pulled back the curtains they were greeted with the sight of disturbingly cloudy skies. During the long drive to Omagh the picture scarcely improved and cars were parked in the semi-quagmire of the rugby club under frequent cloud bursts.

Despite a strong desire to get straight back into the cars and head for home, the Band grumpily assembled and, after the customary bacon butties, were soon tuning and fettling pipes in preparation for the arena.

The weather mercifully improved and Gilnahirk took to the ring under light grey skies. The performance was solid and again drew compliments from the crowd - but, as always, the fate of the Band remained in the hands of the judges.

Some would say that the best part of the day was yet to come - the stellar performance of the Gilnahirk Catering Corps. On the menu were hotdogs (with Secret Sauce) and pavlova to follow. Unsurprisingly, there were no leftovers. Without doubt, the Gilnahirk post-performance refreshments are the best in Ulster...

After bellies had subsided the more discerning members adjourned to the side of the Grade One Arena to watching the piping and drumming superstars strut their stuff. There was much chin stroking and hand-cupping-behind-ears.

The Finale followed - and to the delight of the members Gilnahirk was called out in third place in the grade. Perhaps even more pleasing was the news that one of the piping judges had been of the view that the piping ought to take first spot!

The season takes a short break now and Gilnahirk's next performance will be in Moira on 1st August - so have a listen to the recording of the All Ireland run and come along and see the real thing there....

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/869388 2015-07-01T19:31:47Z 2015-07-01T19:31:47Z United Kingdom Championships 2015, Stormont

What a day!

Having anxiously watched the weather forecast all week after the debacle of the Cookstown gales, it was a great pleasure for the Band to assemble under beautiful blue skies at the Stormont Estate. As Gilnahirk lies only a couple of miles from Parliament Buildings, this contest is absolutely on our "turf" but it hasn't always proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Band.

Last year an administrative mix up led to Gilnahirk members only being able to watch from the sidelines as all the superstars in Pipe Bands sauntered into Belfast for one of the "Major" championships. This year there were no such difficulties and with the sun shining down on East Belfast, the day was off to a promising start.

Unfortunately, George was under the weather and John is also on the injured list, but this still allowed the Pipe Major to field seven pipers. as Jessie was tending to her hubby, the bass section was one woman down and the snare line was a slightly depleted corps of three. Nevertheless, everyone was determined to put on the strongest possible performance for the judges and the pipes were booming straight out of the box.

A couple of warm up runs later and the stewards were calling for the Band to take to the arena. Unfortunately, Grade 4B had been scheduled to run simultaneously with Grade 1, so the bulk of the crowd had gathered around the adjacent ring, but there was still a healthy crowd to watch Gilnahirk deliver a performance which probably surpassed any other this season.

Then it was over to the Judges - there was nothing to do but wait. Well - nothing except to hit the burger vans and renew acquaintances with the Scottish brethren who were determined to enjoy the Belfast hospitality.

There wasn't long to wait and the Band was soon on the march past to await the verdict. Having had a prize in the first contest of the year, followed by two fifth places, fingernails were bitten to the quick as the results started to be called.

The announcement of "In fourth place - GILNAHIRK" was greeted with a roar from the Band and all our faithful supporters. This was the Band's first appearance in a Major Championships since winning the World Title in 2000 - no mean feat.

Once the dust had started to settle, various members started to grab for the trophy, shouting "take my picture!" Thankfully, no injuries were sustained.

It was great to see members of other bands rush over to the Band to offer congratulations. The Grade was won by a Scottish band and only one other Northern Ireland band placed above Gilnahirk, giving great encouragement for the rest of the season.

The Band will not be attending the contest in Lurgan next week, but we will be hitting the road once again for the All-Ireland Championships in Omagh on 20 June, so come along and see us as we try to build on our success.... 

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/868874 2015-06-12T21:45:19Z 2015-06-12T21:45:20Z Mid-Ulster Championships 2015, Cookstown

When the Mid-Ulster Championships moved from their traditional location at Cookstown High School there were the typical grumbles from bandsmen, never ones keen to embrace change. The new venue at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena lacked any real atmosphere in 2014 and was not favoured by the weather with consistent downpours throughout the course of the day. Indeed, if the event had not largely taken place on artificial pitches it may well have been washed out.

Still, 2015 is another year and we couldn't suffer the same fate two years on the trot? Could we?

It turned out that this time we were to be treated to gale force winds with only occasional rain. The risk of drowning was definitely lower but the possibility of a gust of wind up the kilt propelling bandsmen heavenward before their time was vastly increased.

The good men (and women) of Gilnahirk are unbowed by such trifles. Those who hadn't been blown out to sea somewhere en route huddled together in the lee of a convenient camper van and, after a reasonable period of gurning and whining, got the instruments out, tethered them down and started to warm up. In this instance, "warm up" is decidedly the wrong phrase.

In a large grade, the Band was playing towards the top of the batting order and delivered a solid performance in difficult conditions. Whether the Judges could really deliver a proper verdict with swirling winds carrying sound in all directions remains a matter for debate.

Within seconds of the Pipe Major dismissing the Band, members were scampering towards the Camper Van once again - and this time hearty soup was on the menu - highly appreciated by one and all. As George was celebrating a birthday, dessert was Birthday Cake, accompanied by a rousing chorus of something that sounded a little like "Happy Birthday" - thankfully, no recording survives.

The rest of the day passed in a blur of unpleasant weather, vain efforts to stay warm with tea and coffee and a slightly disappointing verdict from the Judges. Once again, the Band was placed in fifth - just out of the prizes.

Next up is the United Kingdom Championships on 13 June at Stormont Estate where better weather is assured* - come along and say hello!

In the meantime, here is the recording (wind-damaged) of the Cookstown performance for your edification...

*This is written more in hope than expectation....

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/866182 2015-06-05T22:10:38Z 2015-06-05T22:18:07Z County Fermanagh Championships 2015

With a draw time in the early afternoon. the bold men and women of Gilnahirk headed west sometime before the dawn chorus had even twittered its first note on the 23rd May, heading for the traditionally damp Enniskillen contest.

Much to the surprise of all assembled, the morning started brightly with relatively few clouds blotting the sky and most of the water remaining in the lakes.

Perhaps even more surprisingly, the geographically and chronologically challenged members all made it to the park in decent time, making for a fairly calm warm up and even allowing a few moments for the drummers to grab a few tasty and healthy snacks.

The Band hit the line late in the Grade with a large crowd gathered to see whether the form shown in Bangor could be maintained. The Branch had thrown a bit of a curve ball with the traditional two piping judges replaced with only one adjudicator which made for a somewhat uncertain results table.

Content with the way the band played, it was probably safe to say that both pipers and drummers were of the view that improvements remained to be made but overall the crowd seemed pleased and impressed with the continuing progress on display.

The Gilnahirk Pipe Band Catering Corps again outdid itself with delicious stew, bread and hearty desserts for all who cared to make the journey to the Campervan of Delights. If this keeps up it is highly likely that most members will be slipping into larger kilts by the end of the season (or even half way through...)

Eager not to disappoint the bandsmen, the weather obliged by taking its traditional turn for the worse and capes were the order of the late afternoon, leading on to a rather damp finale. Gilnahirk unfortunately lost out on the prizes with some idiosyncrasies in the results pushing the band into 5th place - still a massive improvement on the 2014 performance. 

The next stop is another traditionally wet one in Cookstown but for those who can't wait, here is the Enniskillen performance for your listening pleasure....

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/857171 2015-05-22T23:17:24Z 2015-05-22T23:17:24Z Ards & North Down Championships 2015

The 2015 season kicked off in style for Gilnahirk with the Bangor contest proving to be a happy hunting ground for silverware.

Pipe Major Tate was able to field eight pipers, complemented by a drum corps consisting of five sides and a bass section of six, under the direction of Leading Drummer Colin Fullerton.

Perhaps unusually, the weather was relatively kind for the competitive opener of the year, although there was certainly no danger of anyone needing treatment for heatstroke! Players arrived in good time, allowing for an undramatic warm up and soon it was time to take to the arena.

Sadly, the trend in recent times has been for dwindling numbers of bands attending contests, and Bangor suffered from no Grade One bands turning out. However, this meant that the RSPBA(NI) has employed only one arena. Consequently the Band played to a larger crowd than would be normal for Grade 4B.

The hard work and dedication of the winter seemed to have paid off and the nerves which have plagued the Band at the start of recent seasons didn't spoil the performance. Leaving the arena the Band was warmly applauded and the sages in the crowd were predicting a healthy result.

Taking nothing for granted, members tucked into lunch and pondered the performance. The 1st Scots Army Band was making a first appearance in the grade and would likely be the wild cards.

After shivering through rest of the afternoon, the troops reassembled for the Finale. After the usual speeches and Drum Major prizes the Band was delighted to hear "In Third place.... Gilnahirk!" - breaking the duck in local competitions which has gone on for far too long. The next outing is already in the books for Enniskillen on Saturday 23rd May - see you all there - and in the meantime, have a listen to our first prize-winning performance of the year...


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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/853021 2015-05-10T08:00:05Z 2015-05-10T13:04:03Z Under Starter's Orders

You only have to gaze a few days into the future to see it coming - that's right, the 2015 Pipe Band Contest Season is almost upon us.

Gilnahirk's competitive season will kick off this year in Bangor with the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships. Drawn to play seventh in Grade 4B at 13.56, we are hopeful that we can start 2015 in the same manner as we finished 2014 at the Lowland Gathering in Stranraer.

Certainly, a huge amount of work has been put in over the winter and spring - almost every week has seen two practice nights and breaks from the schedule were limited to a handful of days around Christmas and Easter. Pipe Major Carson Tate and Leading Drummer Colin Fullerton have demanded (and received) dedication and hard work from all players and the Band is looking forward to getting onto the grass to allow our supporters to see what improvements have been made.

New sporrans and flashes have largely finished the project to "reupholster" the Band - we hope the playing can match up to the suave good looks!!

If you are anywhere around the Bangor area on 16 May 2015, come and along to Castle Grounds and say hello.....(and a little bit of cheering wouldn't go amiss!)

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/853019 2015-05-09T19:55:22Z 2015-05-09T19:56:17Z Ulster-Scots Concert 2015

The last two years have seen well-supported and highly enjoyable Burns Night events hosted by the Band in Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church Halls. Never one to rest on laurels, the Band took a decision to change up the format this year with an Ulster--Scots concert.

The headline act was the well-known Stonewall Folk Group - who have been packing in the crowds all around the country for years. Ticket sales went well and the scene was set for a great night of entertainment. The crowd of Band supporters, friends and family was not disappointed. When the curtain was raised, the boys from Stonewall kicked off in high gear and the pace never dropped throughout the evening.

The Band's bass drummer, Michael Harrison had once again masterminded a great event, with the assistance of the fundraising committee. Michael's suppers are becoming the stuff of legend - and this was no different. The interval was an opportunity to feed the inner man - safe to say that no one was going to be going home hungry...

No Gilnahirk event would be complete without an appearance from the Band itself and the second half kicked off with a strong performance from a rejuvenated outfit. The drum corps was led for the first time by new leading drummer, Colin Fullerton. Colin started his drumming career in Gilnahirk many years ago and has come back to the Band having been all the way up to Grade One. His influence could already be heard - and was commented on by some of the pipe band aficionados in the crowd. The Pipe Corps has also been strengthened this year with the addition of Robert Greer - another former member returning to the fold and providing superb support for Pipe Major Carson Tate.

The evening wound up with a triumphant return to the stage by our new friends in Stonewall - and the final rendition of the night was a spirited version of Auld Lang Syne - as the photographs record, members of the Band cheerily led the singing!

All in all, a great night was had by all involved - and the Band was delighted that the audience seemed to enjoy the change in format. Great thanks have to go to the friends, family and supporters who turned out to help and support us in our efforts. The project to relaunch and rebrand the Band has been an expensive and time consuming endeavour - and one that would never have been possible without all our friends in Gilnahirk and further afield - hopefully we can keep entertaining you all for years to come!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/798422 2015-01-19T18:54:54Z 2015-07-23T10:41:08Z Gilnahirk Ulster-Scots Concert - Saturday 31 January 2015

For the last couple of years, the Band has promoted extremely enjoyable Burns Night events.

This year, we have decided to mix it up a little and switch to a concert format, to give the crowd a slightly different experience - and one which should be at least as much fun!

The event will take place on Saturday 31st January 2015 at 7.30pm in Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church Hall.

We have been able to secure the services of popular Ulster-Scots group Stonewall - who have featured on the BBC Northern Ireland programme, The GaitherinIf you fancy having a look at some of the treats in store, check out their YouTube channel here.

Tickets are available now - contact Michael on 07974 070781

The Band will also be playing and there will be a light supper provided. Come along and enjoy the fun!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/798418 2015-01-19T18:43:23Z 2015-01-19T18:43:23Z A New Year Beckons...

Admittedly a little late, all in Gilnahirk Pipe Band would like to wish all our friends and supporters a Happy and Prosperous 2015.

The Band spent much of 2014 continuing with the rebuilding project which started a couple of years ago, under the stewardship of P/M Ricky Newell. Of course, 2014 was tinged with sadness when Ricky passed away early in the year but his long time friend and confidante, Carson Tate proved more than able to lift the reins and saw the Band move from strength to strength.

New players were added to the roster and practices were stepped up, finally delivering a 2nd place finish at the Lowland Gathering in Stranraer.

This was no time for resting on laurels.

Instead, the Band took only a couple of weeks off before returning to the Hall for a packed Winter practice schedule. Members have been meeting twice a week with the best attendance figures in decades. More new members have been recruited and a new competition set has been selected. If you want to join the team, get in touch with us on Facebook or by email here.

Things have also been busy on the social front. The Band held a very enjoyable Christmas party at the Lagan Village Rangers Club in East Belfast which was well supported by our friends from near and far. This was followed up by a successful Christmas ballot and on the horizon is our Ulster Scots Concert evening (more of that later...)

The fundraising has this year been directed at replacing our sporrans which have seen better days and it looks like the target is within sight.

All in all, it has been a busy end to 2014 and an equally busy start to the New Year - but all the signs are extremely encouraging - enthusiasm is at an all time high - why not come along and be part of it?

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/747935 2014-09-29T00:32:40Z 2014-09-29T00:32:40Z Annual General Meeting 2014

After picking up a rather natty shield at the Stranraer Lowland Gathering just a few weeks ago, it was no great surprise that Band Annual General Meeting was the most upbeat in years.

Of course, the year had started tragically with the passing of Gilnahirk's hugely influential Pipe Major, Ricky Newell. Ricky was a colossus of the Pipe Band world. A former Pipe Major of bands including Field Marshal Montgomery and Dromara, he amassed trophies throughout the grades and he brought something very special to Gilnahirk. His encyclopaedic knowledge and his feel for the music combined with a tireless work ethic gave Gilnahirk the shake it needed and started the journey which the Band continues today. Carson Tate stepped into the breach and ably took up the reins.

Performances throughout the year were variable. Nerves in the arena featured prominently. Players seemed to deliver their best outside the ring rather than inside. Despite this, attendances were consistently good at practice and there were great performances delivered at various other events including the Portaferry Gala and the annual Twelfth of July Celebrations.

Of course, the Band's own Burns' Night event was once again a sell-out and the fund-raising element was a valuable contribution towards the high costs of running a competing Band.

Another highlight of the year was the emergence of Lucas Adamson - the Band's first competing Drum Major in many years. Lucas is a credit to the Band and captured a much deserved fourth place in this Grade at the North West Championships to round off an impressive first year on the field.

The Meeting reviewed all the high and low lights of the year, with smiles again much in evidence when the Stranraer trip was recalled. It was perhaps no surprise to hear that the leadership team of Carson Tate as Pipe Major and Leading Drummer Stephen Hoy were returned unopposed. Another strong addition to the Piping team was more of a (very welcome) surprise. Robert Greer, former Pipe Major and constant friend to Gilnahirk was elected as Pipe Sergeant on his return to membership. This signals another important step in the development of the Band and a lot of hard work for the pipe corps over the Winter!

As is traditional, the evening ended with a lavish supper, largely laid on by Jessie and Betty to whom thanks are due.

Practices will commence again on Monday 29 September and everyone is welcome. We hope to run learners' classes for both piper and drummers and welcome new members with all levels of experience. Drop us a line at join@gilnahirkpipeband.com or message us through Facebook.

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/747934 2014-09-29T00:31:15Z 2014-09-29T01:08:20Z Stranraer Lowland Gathering 2014

For many years, bands from Northern Ireland would have travelled to Stranraer for contests to mix it with the Scottish outfits. The tradition somewhat died out as Major Championships tended to move elsewhere and the improving standard on this side of the Irish Sea made it less worthwhile to make the trip.

However, the committee of the Stranraer Lowland Gathering has been working hard to reverse that trend and this year Gilnahirk decided to make the trip over to round off a season which has seen great strides taken in the development of the Band.

It was an early start at the Stena terminal in Belfast. Bleary-eyed members and supporters stumbled onto the boat and staggered off in search of reviving coffee and somewhere to catch up on at least twenty or thirty winks. The boat was perhaps less crowded than we had expected, although one deck seem almost completely filled with members of the PSNI en route to Wales for the United Nations conference. Best behaviour of all Gilnahirk members led to a minimal number of arrests.

Bail paid, we disembarked and made for the bus. It was a short jaunt up the coast from Cairnryan and we were soon deposited at the contest field. It was sufficiently early that the arena was still being constructed and the still sleepy bandsmen searched out the food stalls where bacon baps were consumed with gusto.

Practice was purposeful and confident. The attendance of former Pipe Major Robert Greer was great help to the current incumbent and there was a settled and assured feel to the warm-up. The performance in the ring largely replicated the runs outside (for a change!) and both Pipe Major and Leading Drummer were seen to crack a satisfied smile as the Band marched off.

Next on the agenda was a meal in a local hotel before returning for the Finale. There was a real sense of anticipation as the prizes were called - and rightly so. Second! Our first playing trophy in some time was the reward for all the hard work over the past two years. The normally camera-shy members queued up to have photos taken with the trophy and smiles were the order of the day.

Celebrations carried on into the local rugby club, back to the bus, down to Cairnryan and all the way home on the boat. Presumably the smiles will start to disappear in early 2015.

And with that, the season ends. A superb end to a summer which has seen enormous improvement coupled with disappointment at results. The Lowland Gathering showed that Gilnahirk can once again be a force in the Grade and let others glimpse the potential within the Band. If you want to be part of it (and if not, why not?) then drop us a line at join@gilnahirkpipeband.com or follow us on Facebook.

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/747933 2014-09-29T00:25:57Z 2014-09-29T00:25:57Z North-West Championships 2014 - Portrush

The Portrush contest is usually a chance at the end of the season to let hair down and congratulate those bands who have performed well at the World Championships in Glasgow earlier in the month. The recent trend for Field Marshal Montgomery to skip Portrush has rather taken the shine off the post-Worlds back-slapping, but the bands still look forward to the last (local) hurrah of the season.

Gilnahirk members headed North in numbers and quite a few stayed for a few extra days, making the most of the decent weather which made an appearance for perhaps only the second time in the Summer.

The Band acquitted itself well in the arena, showing considerable improvement over the course of the year, but with plenty left to do. The drummers showed consistency in placing amongst the top outfits and the pipers received encouraging comments on the Judges' sheets.

The highlight of the contest from a Gilnahirk perspective was undoubtedly the performance of the Band's young Drum Major, Lucas Adamson. This was Lucas' first season in competition and his improvement in that short time has been extremely impressive. He lifted a well-deserved fourth place and we have no doubt that this trophy will be the first of many. Well done Lucas!

The day concluded with the tradition parade of the town - and it was great to be walking through the streets of the Port with a trophy in front of the Band (thanks again Lucas!)

This year, Portrush won't see Gilnahirk packing up instruments for the year - the Band has one contest still to go - in Stranraer - watch this space!!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/747930 2014-09-29T00:20:08Z 2014-09-29T00:20:09Z Mid-Ulster Championships 2014 - Cookstown

It was with a sense of trepidation and car-load of scuba gear that the hardy souls of Gilnahirk Pipe Band set out for the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena and the Cookstown contest.

The previous contest had been held under blue skies in Lurgan Park and it was never on the cards that the Band would be lucky enough to need the sun screen for two championships in a row.

The venue lacked character, tucked well away from any significant passing public and was much too exposed for the torrential rain which is a much loved feature of the classic Northern Irish summer season.

Grumbling to the tuning park, pipers and drummers dragged instruments from warm and dry cases to expose them to the elements. Although Pipes are an outdoor instrument, they react badly to rain as to modern drum heads. It was therefore a matter of keeping the practice to a minimum to try to preserve the sound which the Pipe Major has worked so hard to improve.

The performance was remarkably solid given the conditions although the judges were clearly somewhat handicapped by the weather and perhaps didn't get as clear an impression as might otherwise have been the case.

Although the Band did not feature in the prize list, it was gratifying to see that the Bass Drummer achieved a third in the Back Crawl.

Nothing that a nice cup of Lemsip won't cure...

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/714047 2014-07-17T19:30:00Z 2014-07-18T14:00:04Z The Twelfth 2014 - Clough

In a fit of foolhardiness, the Band decided to gather itself and head for Clough on the 12th July to take part in what was forecast to be a sodden and miserable parade.

Gilnahirk is a band not easily dissuaded from wandering about in the rain and so, capes in hand, we assembled in a practically sheer assembly field, glancing nervously at the sky and questioning our collective sanity.

As it turned out, the weather forecasters, with their customary alacrity, had got it almost entirely wrong and the Band (kindly invited by Gilnahirk Lodge) made it from start to finish without a single drenching. Indeed, the sun was spotted on several occasions - admittedly dancing in and out of the clouds.

As is traditional, the day was punctuated by visits to the burger vans and other general nonsense, but all in all in good time was had.

Despite lower than normal numbers, the Band attracted positive comment for both playing and attire - our MacDuff tartan seems to turn heads wherever we go!

Practices will recommence on 19th July 2014, and if you fancy joining the madness, get on touch through Twitter, Facebook, or email us here.

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/714044 2014-07-16T17:44:03Z 2014-07-16T17:44:03Z Craigavon & District Championships 2014 - Lurgan

Next up in the 2014 contest season for Gilnahirk was the Craigavon Championships in the refreshingly sunny conditions at Lurgan Park.

The Band assembled in good time and got warmed up nice and early. The pipes were soon sounding as one and the drummers were confidently running through the set. In the absence of Stephen Hoy, the corps was under the experienced eye of drumming tutor Grahame Turner whose blend of experience and attention to detail has been a huge part of the consistently good results achieved by the drummers over the past weeks.

Drawn to play early in the Grade the band enjoyed a solid run, attracting favourable comment from the crowd.

It was hugely encouraging to see John Gildea making his debut for Gilnahirk. John has already had a few outings with the Ulster-Scots Agency Juvenile Band, but this was his first time taking to the circle with Gilnahirk and he displayed the cool head of a seasoned pro! We were also delighted that his proud parents could be there to cheer from the sidelines.

The rest of the day was spent watching the tussles developing between some of the higher grade bands as they get ready for the second half of the season and the challenges of the World Championships - everything seems to be heating up nicely!

With the good weather, members took the chance to relax and mill about the Park before forming up for the finale. The Band saw an improvement in its result, despite some rather idiosyncratic judging. All in all, it was a successful day - but improvements can still be made to take us into the remaining contests.

Another big positive for the Band this year has been the recruitment of our Drum Major, Lucas Adamson. Lucas is in his first year of competition and shows great promise. He is an integral part of the Gilnahirk family and we are proud to see him compete in our name - we can't wait to give a massive cheer when he starts to lift some silverware!

Our next competitive outing will be at Cookstown on 2nd August - come along and see us!

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tag:gilnahirkpipeband.com,2013:Post/696318 2014-05-28T12:00:05Z 2014-05-28T12:00:06Z County Fermanagh Championships 2014 - Enniskillen

After a damp start to the season in Lisburn, the weather was a little kinder on Saturday past when the tartan roadshow headed West to Enniskillen for the County Fermanagh Championships.

The Band was pleased to be able to field 8 pipers, a mid section of 6 and 5 snares (with Mr Turner preferring the climate in Spain!) when it took to the arena. Despite the long drive, members were there in good time and the Band was sounding well at the line.

Unfortunately, we had a couple of issues in the piping end but still managed to finish in the middle of the pack - only 2 spots off the prizes - and the drummers improved their station with a useful 3rd place performance.

After competing, the Band roamed free through Enniskillen - the Pipe Major was seen to be sampling the local soup and sandwich offerings - and a couple adjourned to the British Legion for refreshments.

Inexplicably, about half of the drum corps ended up in Jolleyes Pet Store - we still don't know exactly why they went there, but we are assured that no animals were harmed.

It was also great to see the Band's young Drum Major, Lucas, continuing his first season in competition - he is doing us proud!

The Band continues its rebranding and the latest steps were taken this weekend with the addition of some rather snazzy new bass and tenor sticks, courtesy of Proline Sticks. They are colour-matched with the purple tones in the kilts and have Band branding on the ends of the tenor sticks and side of the bass mallets. They look the part!

Next week will be a week off in domestic competition with the British Championships scheduled to take place in Bathgate - keep your eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds for your next chance to catch us on the grass!

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