No roll call of the great Pipe Bands of all time would miss out St Laurence O’ Toole of Dublin. Founded in 1910, they are frequent winners at all the major competitions such as European, British, Scottish and Cowal Championships and they were crowned World Champions in 2010 in their centenary year.
In a break from their usual competition circuit the Irish superstars came to the Western Isles on a sunny but blustery weekend at the end of March 2012 for 2 days of performances, concluding in a meeting with the local bands at the stunning location of Macleod’s Stone in South Harris (pictured above).
This historic location, the site of the megalithic standing stone, is high above the white sands of Horgabost beach. It was no mean feat to get over 100 pipers and drummers up to the site along with an appreciative crowd of people from Harris and beyond who also made their way to the top of the hill.
Commenting on their visit, Terry Tully, Pipe Major of the St Laurence O’ Toole band says: ‘This was a very unique experience to be playing bagpipes on top of a mountain with the wind blowing at over a hundred miles an hour. We’ll have some special memories to take home.’
The Meeting of the Bands was also a memorable experience for the pipers and drummers of the other bands from the Western Isles and Skye who took part: the Lewis Pipe Band under the direction of Pipe Major Peter Mackay; Pipe Major Ivan Macdonald with the Uist Pipe band; the Liniclate School Pipe Band from Benbecula with Pipe Major Fiona Maclennan, a 6th year pupil at the school at the helm; and the Isle of Skye Pipe Band with Pipe Major Alan Mackenzie.
For the island bands, the performances at Macleod’s Stone and in the Stornoway Sports Centre were the culmination of many weeks of planning and practice, preparing for the opportunity to play with one of the world’s leading bands.
The Meeting of the Bands, which will be shown on Saturday 7th July 2012 at 9.00pm on BBC ALBA, captures the atmosphere, enthusiasm and wonderful music of this two-day event.