All-Ireland having the time of its life at 75
If yours is a band looking for a bit of a change from the usual competition travel destinations, the 2020 All-Ireland Championships just outside of the world-class city of Dublin might be just what the pipe-major ordered.
The event, coordinated every year between the Irish Pipe Band Association and the Northern Ireland branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, will celebrate its 75th anniversary on July 4th at the grounds of Newbridge House and Farm in Donabate, about three miles from Dublin International Airport where dozens of flights come directly every day from all over the world including most major North American cities.
Not only will the competition record a milestone anniversary, but the Grade 1 St. Laurence O’Toole and the Grade 4B Black Raven, both of Dublin, will each mark an astounding 110 years of creating great music.
According to Seamus Russell, vice-president of the Irish Pipe Band Association, the 2020 All-Ireland will is expected to attract more than 60 bands and spectator attendance of more than 3,000. The contest is supported by the Fingal County Council
“The All-Ireland is the showpiece of piping and drumming in Ireland and is well worth a visit,” Russell said in a statement. “The [competition] began life in 1946 when the famous Eddie McVeigh from Northern Ireland was visiting Dublin heard the sound of the then famed Fintan Lalor Pipe Band practicing in a Trade Union Hall in Parnell Square. A friendly discussion took place about who had the best bands Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic, and at that chance meeting it was decided to hold an All-Ireland competition in Dublin the first Saturday in July of that year. The championships have been held ever since.”
The event alternates each year between venues in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Irleand.
The Grade 1 competition is always one of the best smaller contests, often with two of the world’s powerhouse bands, Field Marshal Montgomery of Belfast and St. Laurence O’Toole, going head-to-head. The competition has occasionally attracted Grade 1 bands from Scotland, with the Glasgow Police and ScottishPower among the bands making the trip.
St. Laurence O’Toole took the 2019 championship, and Field Marshal Montgomery has won the Grade 1 contest a record 25 times.
Despite diligently attending every RSPBA major championship annually, St. Laurence O’Toole is a member of the Irish Pipe Band Association, and thus considered an “overseas” band by the RSPBA, so not allowed a vote in the association’s matters.
In addition to the pipe band contests, more than 50 drum-majors are expected to compete.
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