We had a marvellous weekend of fun in Clonakilty this year that will be remembered for many a year.
As part of the Festival of West Cork, the 28th Annual South of Ireland Band Championships was held on Saturday 7th July 2007 in the beautiful west Cork town of Clonakilty.
This is an entertainments style competition where each band must play a 15 minute programme which must include a march. Eighteen bands in all took part in Junior, Intermediate and Senior sections, eleven concert bands and seven brass bands. A number of bands travelled over 250 miles to take part in this very enjoyable festival, and the Senior section also included a concert band from Germany, The Waldaschaff Concert Band who visited Clonakilty on their way to the WASBE Conference in nearby Killarney in Co Kerry.
Clonakilty is a very special place to visit, there is always a great atmosphere in this holiday town even when there is no festival taking place. Each band that takes part in the competition is encouraged to give a performance on the main street and this further enhances the festival atmosphere.
Twelve members of the band travelled down by private car on the Friday 6th to make sure that all arrangements were in place and to sample the nightlife. They were delighted to receive an invitation from the Lourdes Brass Band to join them in their hotel for a social evening.
The bus carrying the remainder of the band left Ardee at 8am. Entertainment on the bus was provided by Laura and Claire in the form of games, quizzes and videos. The bus arrived bang on time at 1.30pm at the Clonakilty Quality Hotel for lunch. Afterwards the band travelled to the Clonakilty Community College for a short rehearsal and tune-up. The band was under the direction of Alan Kelly who was conducting the band for the first time in competition. Harry Kelly was unable to travel due to family commitments.
Ardee took the stage in a very professional manner and played a very entertaining programme, starting with The Liberty Bell March, followed by James Bond 007 and the final piece was a selection from the musical, Chicago. Immediately after the competition performance, all of the members walked to the main street and gave a 45 minute recital for the large crowd that had gathered. After this, it was a mad rush back to hear the results.
With twenty prizes on offer, most bands will come home with something. A special prize was created this year to celebrate the date (07/07/07) and this was won by Ardee Concert Band who gave an excellent performance, under their conductor Alan Kelly, of James Bond 007, arranged by Johan de Mey.
First prize in the competition went to the Lourdes Brass Band from Drogheda in Co Louth who gave a very entertaining performance which included the trombone section dressing as nuns for I Will Follow Him, second prize went to the Waldaschaff Concert Band and third went to Ardee Concert Band.
To end this special day, many of the bands took part in a Massed Band performance of some marches in the beautiful Kennedy Square in the town centre.
The fun continued in the local hotels and pubs where many of the visiting bands stayed over and enjoyed sing-songs etc into the wee hours.
The Emmet Hotel on Kennedy Square was the headquarters for the Ardee members and at about twelve o clock, Austin fired up his keyboard and Paul tuned his guitar and what ensued for the next three hours was one of the best singsongs ever experienced by the members. Many excellent contributions from Austin, Laura and Claire and solo spots from Anne O Brien, Niall, Betty, Dermot, Anthony kept the craic mighty. An excellent rendition of Irelands Call from Oisin Clarke was one of the highlights.
The music continued on Sunday when the Waldaschaff Concert Band played at the 12pm Mass and gave a recital afterwards.
A huge thank you must go to the excellent organising committee of Fiona Reilly, Anne O Brien, Fiona Byrne and Fionnuala Carroll without whom, the band would not have travelled.