Rain halts pipers’ play at Sandy Bay

Ray Hall, chairman of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland (left), dodging the rain with local band members including Pipe Majors John Fittis and Grahame Harris, Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band, and Pipe Major Alistair McCleery, Ballydonaghy Pipe Band. INLT 24-678-CON
Ray Hall, chairman of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland (left), dodging the rain with local band members including Pipe Majors John Fittis and Grahame Harris, Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band, and Pipe Major Alistair McCleery, Ballydonaghy Pipe Band. INLT 24-678-CON
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Perhaps it was inevitable, staging a pipe band contest on a cricket ground in June.

It rained, of course. In fact there was a cloud burst and the Co Antrim Championships – the first of the main competitions of the year for the tartan fraternity – were abandpned on Saturday afternoon.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (NI branch) has expressed extreme disappointment that the contest could not proceed, despite the huge efforts of the Co Antrim section and Larne Council.

Ground conditions deteriorated to such an extent that health and safety risks had to be considered, as well as the potential damage to pipes and drums posed by the incessant rain, especially with the UK Championships scheduled for Stormont this Saturday.

The RSPBANI branch will work with the Co Antrim section over the next few days to explore every possibility of rearranging the event to a date later in the year.

Ray Hall, RSPBANI chairman said: “I personally feel a great empathy with the Co Antrim section, who after a very emotional meeting, together with branch officers, had to make the decision that the contest could not go ahead.

“A similar decision had to be made at Enniskillen last year, but most of the contest did take place. It was even more heart-wrenching to not be able to start. Last year, I and the Fermanagh section, were heartened by the messages of support we received from bands and others.

“I have no doubt that this support will be extended this year to the Co Antrim section, and if the contest can be rearranged as many bands, drum majors and supporters as possible will make every effort to attend.”

Mr Hall added that the raw emotions and huge disappointment so evident in all who had to make the difficult decision was a testament to the hours of work, passion and commitment that is required to promote and stage a pipe band contest.