The Olympics may have been drawing to a close in London over the weekend but for the Achill Pipe Band their own Olympics was taking place 400 miles up the road in Glasgow for the World Pipe Band Championships.
Over 8,000 Pipers and Drummers from 12 different nations along with 40,000 spectators descended on Glasgow Green over the weekend for the World Pipe Championship. The ‘Worlds’ as they are commonly known are often referred to as the Olympics of the Piping World and the Achill Pipe Band continued their incredible progress with a fourth place finish in their category and are likely to gain promotion to a higher grade for the second year in succession.
Last year, the band were promoted from the 4b grade to 4a following a very successful year of competitions and that success continued at the higher grade with top three finishes in the Euopean, British and All-Ireland championships. These successes along with the fourth place in the world are likely to result in their promotion to the 3b grade for next season which is regarded as a significant step-up in terms of musical standard.
The Achill Pipe Band was founded in 2007 with the purpose of taking part in competitions and consist of up to 20 members - the majority in their twenties. Gillian Patten, the PRO of the Pipe Band told The Mayo News that the results of the past year have been beyond their wildest expectations.
“This was a big step up from last year and when we started off in January we thought we would finish seventh or eighth in competitions. We never thought we would end up with silverware but in all of the seven competitions the band have come home with silverware. The success this year has been phenomenal.
“We are quite confident we will be upgraded because any band that finishes in the top four are generally upgraded but we are not counting our chickens just yet. The band members are delighted but they have put in hours of practice and their commitment has been fantastic. For an island on the west coast to come fourth in the world is a huge achievement and they really have put Achill on the map,” she said.
The countries the competing bands travelled from included Canada, the USA, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden as well as a number of bands from Britain and Ireland.
Achill were up against 39 other bands in their grade which were divided into two groups with the top 12 teams making it into the final. Achill actually came top in their qualifying group which put them in good spirits for the final but in a tough competition they finished fourth behind the winners New Ross and District Band from Co Wexford. The level of competition was such that the three bands who finished ahead of Achill in the final all finished below them in the qualifying round.
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