Gilnahirk Pipe Band

Formed 1919

Burns Supper 2014

In a move which clearly offended against good sense, the Band girded its collective loins and staged its second Burns Supper on Saturday 1 February 2014.

Last year's event had been a great success, but it had been very hard work indeed. Band members were asked to turn their hands to many activities well outside their comfort zones - and to do so with smiles on their faces. Anyone familiar with the traditionally surly countenance of the UIster piper will understand the problem...

However, in the spirit of "that which does not kill us makes us stronger", plans were hatched, amended, dispensed with, re-hatched, disputed, abandoned, argued over, and finally made.

As now seems traditional, a huge burden fell on the shoulders of resident Bass drummer and chef-extraordinaire, Michael Harrison. Michael (with the assistance of his wife, Alison) was slaving over a hot stove for most of the day preparing the haggis, neaps and tatties which formed the centre-piece of the evening. The food went down extremely well - and we can report a second year on the trot with no fatalities. Of course, no haggis can be consumed without first being addressed in the traditional fashion and those duties were again performed with gusto by Matthew Warrick. After a certain amount of sword waving, gut-rubbing and mild burping, the job was done.

Glad to have their table-waiting duties over, the Band retreated to the safety of the tuning room whilst the programme of entertainment commenced.

This year the Band was delighted to welcome The Thompson Brothers, a hugely popular duo from the nearby Ards peninsula. They treated the crowd to a combination of Ulster-Scots tunes and gospel music which left the audience wanting more. They definitely picked up a few more groupies on the night!

Next we had the ladies from the Belfast Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society who had nipped away from their usual Saturday night class to show us their skills. Their easy charm and obvious enthusiasm for dance was infectious.

They were followed by Matthew's return to the stage - this time along with Iain Carlisle. As "two fifths of Risin' Stour" they energised the crowd even more with a masterclass on what you can do with a guitar and an accordion - and a huge amount of talent.

The Band then took to the stage for the final performance of the night, concluding with Piper Jonty playing Auld Lang Syne to a highly appreciative audience.

The night was again a great success and the Band would like to thank all those who helped out. You know who you are - but we should single out a couple of folks for special mention. Firstly, our Chairman's wife, Thelma Jackson, found herself pressed into service at the last minute as compere - and she did a marvellous job. Michael and Alison were spectacular in the kitchen all day. Carson was superb taking the Band on following our Pipe Major's recent illness.

It was fantastic to see our Pipe Major, Ricky Newell enjoying his evening in the Hall - and helping out in the tuning hall - after his recent illness.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night - and who knows, we might even try it again next year....