Gilnahirk Pipe Band

Formed 1919

North Down Pipe Band Championships 2011

Gilnahirk took to the grass on Saturday 23 July 2011 for the first time in more years than we care to remember.

The weather was kind and the Band was drawn to play at 12.13pm in the main arena. After a slightly rushed warm-up, Gilnahirk strode to the line as Mervyn Herron from the RSPBANI welcomed one of the few remaining Belfast-based bands back to competition with some kind words over the tannoy. The performance itself was perhaps a little nervous, but the general reaction from the crowd afterwards was positive. Even some of the harshest critics were professing themselves reasonably impressed with the showing. Sadly, the judges didn't share that view - but that did nothing to dampen the Band's enthusiasm for the return to competition.

Quite a few players were experiencing the thrill of the competition arena for the first time - other "auld hands" were wondering why they wanted to put themselves through all this trauma again!

Special mention should be made of two players this time round. Firstly, David, our bass drummer - he joined the Band around this time last year and only recently "converted" to bass from snare drum. His performance was steady and drew good comments on both the drumming and ensemble sheets. Well done!

Secondly - Margaret - the Birthday Girl - during the finale, a special announcement was made of Margaret's birthday. We are all very pleased that she agreed to spend it in the sunshine of Bangor with Gilnahirk Pipe Band. Sadly, there was no birthday cake brought along, and we intend to save the "bumps" for Monday night practice!

Everyone in the Band was really gratified to receive such kind comments from spectators and other bands about our return to the grass. The good wishes and warm welcomes were very much appreciated. We have even been sent a few photos from friends and supporters which we will add to the photo gallery over the next few days. Our Facebook page has been getting more and more "likes" and it is proving a great way to send out news about the Band and to keep in touch with friends. Why not drop in there some time?

Our next appearance will be at Stormont next Saturday (30 July) for the European Pipe Band Championships. It should be another fun day and with all the "big" bands coming over from Scotland, there should be plenty of entertainment for everyone. Come along and say hello!

Twelfth of July 2011

The Band was honoured to be invited again by our friends in Gilnahirk Purple Star LOL No. 1140 to join them in the annual Battle of the Boyne Celebrations this year.. The Band has enjoyed a long and warm relationship with the Lodge and over the years has been pleased to play for them at parades all round the District.

This year's parade was in Comber and we were blessed with a beautiful day - perhaps even slightly too warm when you are carrying a drum, or puffing on a set of pipes! The Comber Parade had been selected as one of the Orange Order's Flagship events and the crowds had certainly come to join in the fun. Comber was jam-packed with locals and visitors, keen to take part in the carnival atmosphere. The Parade started at the Comber Rec grounds and looped through the town before returning to the playing fields where the usual Orange service took place. There was also a plethora of entertainment for young and old - along with plenty of food for those looking to build themselves up again after the long walk.

Gilnahirk would like to thank the Lodge again for the kind invitation and also extend a word of thanks to the supporters along the route and in the field who cheered and clapped us on our way - it was very much appreciated.

Next stop this year will be the Bangor Contest on 23rd July - we hope to see more of you there!

Playing at Moneyrea Primary School and Upcoming Events...

The Band was delighted to be asked to play at Moneyrea Primary School early last month. The event was well attended and the barbecue food provided by our gracious hosts went down extremely well. Gilnahirk played on two occasions during the evening's programme and the crowd was warm and appreciative. The inclement June weather meant that the festivities had to be moved indoors but that didn't have any impact on the enthusiasm - or negatively affect the playing! We also took the opportunity to snatch the above pictures of members who were able to make it that night. We had a few players missing due to prior engagements, but hope you will agree the band looks the part once again!

Gilnahirk has entered for the North Down Championships in Bangor on Saturday 23rd June 2011 has been drawn Lucky Number 13 (!) for the European Pipe Band Championships at Stormont on Saturday 30 July 2011. We should be at the line in the Stormont Estate at 1554hrs. The full draw can be seen for the European Championships here. If you are able to make it to either venue, why not come over and introduce yourself to the Band?

If competitions aren't your thing, then the Band will be playing at the Twelfth of July Celebrations in Comber this year. Give us a cheer as we go past!!

Burns Night 2011

The Band was pleased to be invited back to Willowfield Parish Church this year to participate in their excellent Burns Night, which is fast becoming a real fixture on the local cultural scene.

As usual, the Church was absolutely packed with ardent Ulster-Scots and the crowd greatly enjoyed the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties as they were treated to great singing from the Thompson Brothers.

Piper Stephen Jackson piped in the haggis at the start of the evening and the Band brought the evening to a conclusion with a few tunes from the stage. All in all the evening was a great success and Gilnahirk would like to thank George and all the folk at Willowfield for making us feel so welcome - hopefully we'll be back again in 2012!

Happy New Year from Gilnahirk

2010 was a year of ups and downs for Gilnahirk. Unfortunately, we didn't make it back on to the competition circuit - a combination of some bad luck and unpredictable illness.

However, the rest of the year saw the band rebuilding and we look to be in very good shape for our return to the grass in 2011.

Practices will recommence at 8pm on 10 January at the Jack Britton Hall and you are welcome to come along and try your hand.

We would like to wish all our friends, fans and followers a Happy New Year - we will see you all at the competitions later in the year. Come and cheer us on!

Setting the Agenda for 2011

Last week saw the Band hold its Annual General Meeting for 2010.

Pictured above, Mervyn Mayes receives the congratulations of Band Chairman, Stephen Jackson on his re-election to the role of Pipe Major, while Jeremy and Peter look on.

The AGM was a very positive meeting. The election of officers was conducted by long-serving President, Graham Cooper, and the mood was extremely upbeat throughout. Although the Band didn't compete last year, we are already working hard on the set for next year and much of the discussion centred around the desire to "hit the line" with a strong set for 2011.

Towards the year's end the Band has seen its numbers swell considerably and the blend of youth and experience bodes well for the year ahead. Each Monday night sees improvement and the Pipe Major has introduced a number of new tunes to the floor over the last few weeks.

Despite the positive outlook, there is no sense in which Gilnahirk is taking anything for granted. We are still very much in the market for players - whether "old hands" or novices. So, if you want to give piping or drumming a try, why not call up to practice some Monday night? We can assure you of a warm welcome!

Gilnahirk Opens Church Fair

The Band was pleased to be invited to play at the opening of Gilnahirk Presbyterian Church's Autumn Fair this afternoon. We enjoyed glorious autumnal sunshine, which always makes the playing sound that little bit sweeter!

The Band has always had a great relationship with the Church and we still practise in the Jack Britton Hall every Monday night at 8pm.

There was already a long line queued to get in to the Fair when we started to play, just before 2pm and the crowd seemed to enjoy our short selection. Thankfully plenty of applause was generated! We didn't quite field our entire complement of players but there was a good turnout and a few of the newer members made their debuts.

We are keen to take part in local events and hope that the diary will continue to fill up over the remainder of the year and into 2011. We already have a few other performances lined up before the contest season starts in earnest and we will keep everyone up to date through the website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Read All About it!

We are continuing to develop our online presence through Twitter. Anyone who currently follows @gilnahirkpb will know that we have a fairly lively exchange with other Bands from all across the world and we can now bring you all the Twitter content in the form of a "Daily Newspaper", courtesy of - just click on this link to the Pipe Bands Daily.

How full the paper is will depend on the number of posts over the last 24 hours and the number of links which have been shared by other members of the List we maintain of Tweeting Pipe Bands.

We are also able to publish a paper under the title Gilnahirk Pipe Band Daily - which includes everyone we follow - not just the bands, for a more eclectic mix. So, if you are not on Twitter, why not give one of the papers a read to see what is going on in the Piping and Drumming World?

A New Dawn...

This is the first post for the new Gilnahirk Pipe Band website. The site is brand new and very much under development.

So far, you'll see the link to our Twitter Feed on the right of the Home Page and you can follow us there. We are also developing our Facebook page and starting to add pictures to the Photo Gallery here.

The Band has been undergoing a period of rebuilding and hopes to be back and competitve at the end of this season or start of next. If you want to come along and share with us in our love of piping and drumming, why not call up to practice one night?