Newbridge House.

The All Ireland Pipe Band Championships will be held this year in the small coastal town of Donabate, just north of Dublin on July 4

The venue is the grounds of Newbridge House and Farm in the town.

The Championships are organised under the joint auspices of the Irish Pipe Band Association and Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland.

Over 60 pipe bands from all over Ireland and overseas are expected to take part across six grades.

SLoT in final tuning.
SLoT in final tuning last year.

The All Ireland Pipe Band Pipe Band Championships began life in 1946 when Eddie McVeigh from Northern Ireland visited Dublin and heard the sound of the Fintan Lalor Pipe Band practising 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 it was decided to hold an All Ireland competition in Dublin on the first Saturday in July of that year. The championships have been held ever since.

St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band won the Grade 1 competition at last year’s All Ireland Pipe Band Championships which we held at Ballymena Academy Playing Fields in County Antrim. The venue for the ‘All Ireland’ alternates between the Republic and Ulster each year.

The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships takes place on Sunday at, William McIlvanney Campus, Kilmarnock. Addressing concerns about the Coronovirus, a spokesman for the event said: “The Championships organising committee and East Ayrshire Council remain vigilant about the Coronovirus developments. We are in contact with the NHS Health Protection service and will follow their advice. In addition, we are also working with East Ayrshire Council’s venue and health and safety team. Cautionary practical measures that are being taken at the William McIlvanney Campus are listed here:

William McIlvanney Campus.
William McIlvanney Campus.

“We are also linking with attendees through the website, through social media, and also via individual email to the main contact person for each competing band. We ask that adults who are responsible for competitors read the NHS National Services Scotland ‘COVID-19 Guidance to educational settings’ and follow the practical cautionary measures that are highlighted on our website. 

“We are continuing to plan on the assumption that the event will take place, but are ready to act if NHS Health Protection advises that we should cancel. We are monitoring the situation on an on-going basis.”

At the time of posting, the Scottish Government has confirmed six cases in Scotland and advised that more may follow in the next few days.

Elsewhere, after the government in France banned gatherings of 5,000 or more, a major Celtic concert that was to take place tomorrow in Paris – the Nuit de la Bretagne – has been cancelled, as has the Grade 3 bagadoù championships that were due to take place on Sunday in Vannes, Brittany.