Review: World Pipe Band Championships, Glasgow Green

Members of the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band from Northern Ireland celebrate collecting the ultimate accolade. Picture: Reuters
Members of the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band from Northern Ireland celebrate collecting the ultimate accolade. Picture: Reuters
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HOW many times can one use the term “unstoppable” before it wears thin? I’ve used it in the past to describe the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band, which for the fourth consecutive year collected the ultimate accolade by winning Grade One in the World Pipe Band Championships at Glasgow Green on Saturday. Led by Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE, it was the Northern Irish band’s tenth win in “the Worlds”, as the event is known.

World Pipe Band Championships - Glasgow Green

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Second place went to Inverary & District Pipe Band, led by Stuart Liddell, a band which has seen a fairly meteoric rise since it was formed a decade ago, while third place went to a band with a rather lengthier lineage, the Republic of Ireland’s St Laurence O’Toole, formed in 1910 with the playwright Seán O’Casey as its first secretary.

The FMM band won with an MSR selection of the march Balmoral Highlanders, the strathspey John Roy Stewart and the reel Charlie’s Welcome, while its medley set was an engaging mixture of traditional and contemporary material, book-ended by two hornpipes – Rowd’s and the old favourite Pipe Major George Allan, which prompted an enthusiastic response from the crowds who, like the bands, endured some spectacularly dreich weather on Saturday.

Some 25,000 people were expected to converge on the green over the two days of the championships, as well as more than 200 bands, with the audience becoming global thanks to internet streaming (highlights will be screened on BBC1 Scotland on Wednesday).

Despite the weather the atmosphere on the Green – traditionally a place of public jollification, as well as political gatherings – was carnivalesque, with a giant fairground wheel all but eclipsing the obelisk of the Nelson Monument and tented stalls where you could buy everything from Arbroath smokies to a freemasonic sporran.

Seen on 16.08.14