Gilnahirk Pipe Band

Formed 1919

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...