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Maybole Pipe Band had a successful trip to Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day for the second year running. After winning first prize in Drogheda parade last year, the band was invited back to defend their title. With a lot of help from Rose Downes, a member of the traditional Irish music group Comhaltas Ceoiltoiri Eireann, seven band members flew to Dublin on the Monday night. They were welcomed by Rose and two other members of Comhaltas, Paddy Brannigan and Dick Murphy, who made sure there was a stop at the Conyngham Arms in Slane to sample the black stuff. Then, it was on to Slane Farm Hostel, to be looked after by hostel owner Joanne Macken and her family. On Tuesday, the sailing section of the band arrived and met up with the fliers in the Village Inn Slane just in time to marvel at Maggie’s “diver’s mobile phone” which should’ve been good for two fathoms but the depth of the toilet was too much for it. The it was time to enjoy some fine Irish cooking before going to Tom Matthews’ Pub in Collon to take part in a session (music session that is) with Comhaltas. There was a distinct international feel with songs from German and American travellers in addition to the expected Scottish and Irish music. The title the band had to defend on Saint Patrick’s Day was at the parade in Drogheda. With the crowds gathered and the sun shining, the participants marched from the banks of the Boyne and through the towns main streets, stopping briefly at the viewing stand to play a set for the gathered crowd. Once again the band was invited to the West Court Hotel for a good feed and to meet, and of course play for, the dignitaries, who included Parade Grand Marshall and European and World champion boxer Damien McKenna, Drogheda Parade Committee Director Isobel Sanroma and Chairman Mat Nolan amongst others. Unfortunately the band did not win this year, but were beaten by the stunning local entry from the historical society.

Thanks to the efforts of Mickey Flannigan, the bus driver for the day, the band arrived in perfect time for the second parade of the day in Slane. Once again the streets were lined with locals, young and old, excited to see the band return. The Scottish and Irish flags were carried in front by local youngsters Aofe Downes and Orla Brannigan, and followed up by banner carriers Davie Anderson, John Brown, Aine Downes and Kevin McGourk. Afterwards there was time for a quick stop in the Poets Rest before being collected by Mickey and taken to ‘Franks Cottage’ near Donore. Frank Godfrey, a local politician and well-known character, had invited the band to join one his famous parties in his historic and fascinating thatched cottage. Then it was on to Daly’s, also in Donore, for the best Steak Sandwiches in the Boyne. Last stop for the night was the Comhaltas Ceili Mor, or Big Ceilidh, the tickets for which had sold out in days once it was announced that Maybole Pipe Band would be playing. The night consisted of song, dance and story telling from Comhaltas, Lolo Robinsons School of Irish Dance and Maybole's own Davie Anderson. Davie spent most of the night playing his music along with the Irish group and all agreed he was a very welcome addition. The locals were also eager to trip the light fantastic with a lad (or a lass) in a kilt! It was then announced at the ceilidh that the band had taken first place in the Slane parade.

The next day it was off to Dublin for most of the band to head home, and a day out for those who were staying a little longer. A visit to Kitty Kaboodle’s restaurant is another must, if not for the great food and atmosphere, then for the chance to draw on the table cloth and not get in trouble for it. The walls are covered in drawings done by the many diners who left a better effort than Ronnie McFadzeans “Wee Boat”. Friday was spent cycling round the local sights, including the site of the Battle of the Boyne and the megalithic tombs of Newgrange, Nouth and Douth. Due to a timely puncture, a rest stop had to be taken at the Starr Inn, Tullyallen, the oldest pub in County Louth - trust Tam Fulton to get a puncture there. That evening saw a good meal, good ‘craic’ and, of course, plenty of ‘Irish Coffee’ with Rose and her musical family. Rose’s husband, Joe made the best Irish coffee ever. The last night was spent at the home of Lolo and her ‘dancing’ family for another delicious meal and more good times. Then, it was onto another session at the Community Centre in Ballsgrove to have one last dance and say farewell to friends old and new. The band has already been invited back for St Patrick’s Day next year, and hope to see some members of Comhaltas and Lolos’ Dance School in Maybole soon.


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