Gilnahirk Pipe Band

Formed 1919

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!

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!

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?

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 or message us through Facebook.

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 or follow us on Facebook.

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!!

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...

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.

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!

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!