August 31, 2008

Frank Saunders, 1933-2008

Frank Saunders, the popular and accomplished Irish pipe band drummer, died early on the morning of August 8, 2008, aged 74.
A giant of the pipe band scene in Ireland, he was an adjudicator and hugely influential as a drumming instructor throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
Frank Saunders was born in Donnybrook, Ireland, in 1933 and started his drumming career in 1945 with the Donnybrook Scouts Pipe Band, a band that won the All-Ireland Junior Grade in 1947 and the All-Ireland Intermediate Grade in 1948, and some years later changed its name to the Hibernian Pipe Band.
In 1953, he joined the St. Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band, and played under P-M John Duggan and Drum-Sergeant Joe Donovan, the son of the famous Paddy Donovan. Saunders would play with St. Laurence O’Toole for the next seven years, becoming Drum-Sergeant in 1955. In 1958 he won the All-Ireland Senior Solo Drumming Championship.
Frank Saunders joined the Fintan Lalor Pipe Band in 1961, at a time when it was the pre-eminent band from Ireland. With Pipe-Major Tim Keogh in charge, Fintan Lalor would win the All-Ireland Championship in 1962, 1963, and 1964 and the Grade 2 drumming at the Cowal Championships in 1969 and ’71. Saunders was with the band until 1982.
Frank Saunders’ daughter, Rhona, and grand-daughter, Michelle, are drummers currently with St. Laurence O’Toole.
Our condolences go out to Frank Saunders’ survivors and his many friends.


  1. The games have kept me so busy I just read this article. I am saddened upon receiving this news. However, I’m glad to be able to say that I met and had a chat with Frank when I attended the SLOT concert down in Pittsburg. What a gentleman he was and quite obviously a player in his day.



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