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Piping Inverness returns with 100 pipe bands competing in the 2022 European Pipe Band Championships

piping inverness pipe bands
Johnstone Pipe Band compete in Grade 1 Final. Picture by Sandy McCook.

Bagpipes filled the air as hundreds of bands returned to the Highlands for Piping Inverness.

The event, which incorporates the European Piping Championships, returned to the city on Saturday following a two-year absence due to the pandemic.

Thousands descended on Bught Park to watch the various pipe bands compete or take in the Highland dancing competitions.

The atmosphere was jovial as spectators made their way to one of the five arenas showcasing different music, skills and age groups.

More than 100 bands from around Scotland, including Skye, Stirling, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Oban, Elgin and Uddingston, competed in 12 categories on the day.

Crowds enjoy both the weather and music at Piping Inverness. Picture by Sandy McCook.

It was estimated over 4,000 musicians competed.

President of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA), George Usher, was pleased to see so many bands back.

“To see an event like this come back so quickly and so well is fantastic,” he said. “The event will continue as we plan to bring it back next year and hopefully we can continue to host this amazing event for many more years to come.

“The standard is very high, and some bands here at the championships are the best in the world.”

Rule changes opens up competition

Mr Usher was blown away by the talent of some of the youth pipe bands, with some kids as young as eight showing enthusiasm for piping.

With it being almost three years since the last major competition, several bands have reduced as members have gone on to do other things.

One such band was the Elgin and District, who were allowed to compete following a rule change enabling smaller bands to compete.

Pipe Major Peter Craigmile said: “The RSPBA has done a great job in getting the contest back. Most of the bands have lost players from Covid because during the two years off a lot of them have not practised and have gone on and done other things.

“We are like many bands in which we have lost quite a few players, so we went on with seven pipers, two tenors and bass, and for us, it went well.”

Many of the bands competed in the juvenile competition showing that piping is not a dying art and that it is seeing a resurgence among young people.

Skye Youth Pipe Band members Noah Eldeeb (lwft) and Jenna Cargill have a rest after their competition. Picture by Sandy McCook.

‘Important piece of our culture’

Kathleen Macdonald, 17, participated with the Skye Youth Band playing the tenor drum and knows the importance of piping for young Scottish people.

She said: “I think piping is such an important piece of our history and our culture, so I think it is essential to keep it going.

“I also love to play traditional music and want to learn how to play the pipes one day.”

Competing in the Grade 3B competition, which had one of the largest line-ups with 13 bands, was Ross and Cromarty Pipes and Drums School.

Pipe Major Niall Matheson was very pleased with how his band performed amongst such talented musicians.

He said: “The band have done great today, really pleased with how everyone performed as an ensemble.

“The RSPBA sets what we go out and play, either March, Strathspey, Reel or Medley. It was a medley today for us so we had to make one up during the close season, put it all together and go out and play.”

Fans from across Scotland attend

Many of the pipes bands had travelled across the country to attend the event, bringing with them some avid supporters.

Jim Park travelled from North Lanarkshire to watch his local pipe band compete in the Novice Juvenile Final.

Ross and Cromarty Pipe Band School in the Grade 3B final. Picture by Sandy McCook.

He said: “The weather is lovely and it’s just great to hear the performances by all the kids today.

“I think it has been a very difficult time through the pandemic and as a result of not being able to play a lot of the young people gave up and moved on to other things.

“It’s amazing to see so many young people here today, but it is going to have to be a complete rebuilding of these types of activities to get back to pre-pandemic.”

Another spectator, Lisa Monaghan, travelled from Invergordon to watch her niece compete with the Troon Blackrock band and said they couldn’t have picked a better day.

She had been waiting to see her niece compete for years due to the event’s cancellation and said it was lovely to see so many people back together again.

Piping Inverness – June 25

Posted by The Press and Journal on Saturday, 25 June 2022

The results

Here is a list of the results from all categories at the 2022 European Pipe Band Championships:

  • Novice Juvenile A – Dollar Academy
  • Novice Juvenile B – High School of Dundee
  • Juvenile – Dollar Academy
  • Grade 1 – Inveraray & District (Scotland)
  • Grade 2 -Royal Burgh of Annan (Scotland)
  • Grade 3A – Vale of Atholl
  • Grade 3B – Milngavie
  • Grade 4A – Lower Clyde
  • Grade 4B – Kilbarchan Pipe Band
  • Junior Drum Major – Jorja Turkington from Matt Boyd Memorial
  • Juvenile Drum Major –  Louis Anderson from New Ross and District – Eire
  • Adult Drum Major – Kara Gilmour from Police Scotland and Federation