October 31, 2007

Cullybackey promotion gives Ulster five Grade 1 bands

With the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s official promotion of Cullybackey to Grade 1, the country of Northern Ireland with its population of 1.7 million has five bands in the premier grade. Cullybackey joins Ballinderry Bridge, Ballycoan, Bleary & District and Field Marshal Montgomery as Ulster bands in Grade 1, and with St. Laurence O’Toole based in Dublin, Ireland as a whole now boasts six.

Cullybackey won the Grade 2 event at the 2007 World Pipe Band Championships.

In Part 2 of his pipes|drums Interview, Pipe-Major Richard Parkes of 2007 World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery, said, “I know that in Northern Ireland, we’re struggling to get just four or five good Grade 1 bands here,” when asked about his country’s small population in relation to the competitive success of bands overall.

Cullybackey at the 2007 World Pipe Band Championships.
There are currently nine eight Grade 1 bands based in Scotland, seven eight in Canada, three six from New Zealand, five from Australia, and two from the United States and one from South Africa. Northern Ireland has the world’s highest per capita rate of Grade 1 bands.

Other re-gradings from the RSPBA:

  • Grade 3A to Grade 2: Annsborough (NI), Arklow (NI), Johnstone (Scotland)
  • Grade 3B to Grade 3A: Cullen (Ireland), Drumlough (NI), Lanark (Scotland), Greater Manchester County Fire (England), Brechin (Scotland)
  • Grade 4A to Grade 3B: Cullenfad (NI), Killadeas (NI), Duns (Scotland), Troon Blackrock (Scotland), Kirkcudbright (Scotland), Kirkcaldy (Scotland)
  • Grade 4B to Grade 3B: East Kilbride (Scotland)
  • Grade 4B to Grade 4A: Belgian Blend (Belgium), Moneygore (NI), University of Bedfordshire (England), Northern Constabulary (Scotland), Black Bottle Isle of Islay (Scotland), Badenoch & Strathspey (Scotland), Bready Ulster Scots (NI), Dr. Wright Memorial (NI)
  • Novice Juvenile to Grade 4B: Annan (Scotland)

The association demoted a handful of bands: Upper Crossgare (NI) to Grade 3A; Bo’ness (Scotland), Oban (Scotland), Altnaveigh Memorial (NI) to Grade 3B; and Sgt. Walker Memorial (NI) to Grade 4A.


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  1. Congratulations Cullybackey, play well. Torn you are right, although there’s only three that could really foot it internationally in Grade 1.

  2. I think that the Northern Irish situation is even more impressive when you consider that they are graded by the RSPBA. Grade one bands in other jurisdictions have their won grading systems. For example not all of the six New Zealand Grade one bands would be classified as such under the RSPBA system. My guess is that up to three would be, no more. I suspect that a similar situation exists in Australia. Do the South African & North American associations work with the RSPBA on the grading?

  3. Just to clarify that there are no Grade 1 bands in South Africa – the highest grade of bands we have is Grade 2. The bands that compete in this grade are African Skye A, Benoni MacTalla A, Richmond Avenue and Transvaal Scottish A.

  4. I think the eight Grade 1 bands in Canada are Alberta Caledonia, Simon Fraser University, Toronto Police, Peel Regional Police, Windsor Police, 78th Highlanders (Halifax), Scottish Lion 78th Fraser Highlanders and Fredricton Society of St. Andrew. I could be wrong though.

  5. nah, the only yankee grade one bands we have currently are City of Washington and the LA Scots. prince charles hasn’t been registered w/ gr. 1 in over 2 seasons. i’ve seen their other bands (4 and 3) at some cali games though.

  6. also, i’ve talked to a drummer from windsor, and they’ve basically disbanded in so far that they have prcatices in cleveland and michigan, but no longer have a grade one band



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