Gilnahirk Pipe Band

Formed 1919

All-Ireland Championships 2013, Londonderry

It was an early start for Gilnahirk last week when the Band set off for the UK City of Culture and the All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships at St Columb's Park.

Local residents might well have been concerned that their Saturday morning was about to be disrupted by the skirl of the pipes when cars started to arrive well before 9am but they need not have worried. Pipes and drums stayed in their cases and instead the bleary eyed bandsmen piled into our coach for the trip up the M2.

Arriving in Londonderry, it was gratifying to see blue skies for a change. The forecast had been for glorious sunshine across Northern Ireland except for the North-West - but the weathermen thankfully got it wrong and the contest was completed without a drop of rain. The Band gazebo was used to ward off sunstroke, rather than hailstones!

The new contest location left a lot to be desired with space at a premium and the drum major contest shipped out to Ebrington parade square. Nonetheless, the Pipe Major got to work on the pipes and soon had a great sound. Close to playing time, the Band paraded down from an elevated position towards Final Tuning - a great many heads were turned when they heard Gilnahirk on the move - and for all the right reasons!

The contest performance was solid and the playing showed significant improvement on the Omagh performance from the week before. The drum corps was bolstered by the addition of the highly experienced Grahame Turner, making the back end six strong, with three tenors and the bass on top.

Playing last of a field of twenty bands made it hard to crack the prizes but the Pipe Major was content with the progress made - with similar steps in the last few contests of the season there should be cause for optimism.

The Finale over, the Band returned to the bus and onward to Eglinton where Happy Landings was the venue for a slap up meal before the journey back to Gilnahirk. The opportunity for winding down after the day and a good yarn was very welcome!

The break over the Twelfth now kicks in, but that doesn't mean there will be any respite from practice - onwards to the second half of the season!