Achill Pipe Band ... the story so far!
There had been visions of a pipe band representing Achill at competitions as far back as the 1970’s and indeed in 2004, the St Finán’s Pipe Band was established and competed for a short while. However, emigration, work and study commitments all took their toll and St Finán’s came to an end.
On the 22nd of September 2007 a meeting was held in Gielty’s, Dooagh, Achill Island to discuss the possibility of establishing an Achill competition band. The objectives for the band were explained to those assembled and included: to compete in recognised IPBA and RSPBA competitions; to promote and preserve the pipe band tradition in Achill; to help improve the standard of piping and drumming across the village pipe bands in Achill and to promote Achill as the band competes nationally and internationally. The ideas were accepted enthusiastically and at the inaugural meeting, Conor Molloy was appointed Pipe Major and Owen McNamara was appointed Drum Sergeant. A vision was realised: Achill Pipe Band was up and running.
Success and Progress
Achill Pipe Band competed in Grade 4B in 2008 competing in a number of IPBA sanctioned competitions. The band won the Grade 4B All-Ireland Championship and all involved looked forward to the next season. The band continued to improve in the 2009 season and enjoyed some good performances and results in Northern Ireland. This was topped off by a fantastic 4th place in Grade 4B at the World Championships in Glasgow. The 2010 season was one of further consolidation and improvement for the band. The band was making friends and was becoming increasingly more well known in the piping world. Organisers and adjudicators at competitions in Northern Ireland would often ask what time the band had to leave Achill to play at a morning 4B competition!
Achill Pipe Band came of age in the 2011 season. The band enjoyed enormous success coming 3rd in Grade 4B at the Worlds in Glasgow and winning two majors, the British Championships in Anan and the European Championships in Belfast, and winning the All-Ireland in Lisburn as well as other smaller competitions. The occasion of winning the band’s first major at the British Championships on Saturday 25th June will live long in the memories of those who were there. The welcome home
the band received was amazing. The band coach, coming from the UK, was greeted by cars as far out as Mulranny and a large cavalcade made its way, past bonfires and cheering crowds, towards Ted Lavelles where a celebratory party had hastily been organised. Some of the older Achill piping and drumming fraternity were visible in the crowd, their faces beaming. The band was rewarded for these successes with elevation to Grade 4A!
The band, playing in Grade 4A, continued its excellent progress in the 2012 season, taking 2nd place at the British Championships and in the All-Ireland, a 3rd place in the European Championships and 4th place at the Worlds. These results presented the band with the opportunity to move up to Grade 3B where the challenge of playing a Medley set and a MSR set awaited. The challenge was accepted.
In 2013, the band focused on learning a M(arch) S(trathspey) R(eel) to play in Grade 3B competitions. The objective in 2013 was simple – make the Grade 3B Worlds final. This was achieved. 2013 was also the inaugural year of the Achill School of Piping andDrumming where members of Achill Pipe Band provide tuition to learners and improvers of all ages.
In 2014, the band focused on improving their Medley set, the objective was to make the Grade 3B Worlds final. This was achieved. In 2015, the objective was to place in Grade 3B at the Worlds. The band enjoyed success early in the season, placing 3rd at the United Kingdom Championships and 3rd at the All-Ireland. At the Worlds in Glasgow, the band placed a wonderful 5th – objective achieved. The band plans to build on these successes and make an impact at Grade 3B in 2016. The future sounds bright!
Support from the Community
Throughout its short existence, people from all over the Achill parish have contributed to the band by supporting fund-raising events, providing practice rooms, organising trips to competitions, helping tune the band and by participating in the band itself. In fact the band members roll includes names recognisable from the elite of Achill Piping and Drumming: McNamaras, Fadians, Gallagers, Lavelles, O’Malleys, Devers, Cafferkeys, Molloys and Kilbanes to mention a few. Aithníonn an banna an tacaíocht seo agus tá an banna an-buíoch as.