WITH the overall award going to the Mullingar Town Band, the 50th Limerick International Band Championship also proved a major success for local participants with three of the top awards going to Limerick entrants.
After a two year Covid enforced absence, the event attracted more than 25,000 spectators who lined the city streets as 15 bands comprising around 800 musicians created a rare festive atmosphere.
Best Local Band Award was won by the City of Limerick Pipe Band and St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band won the prize for best uniform while the inaugural Sammy Benson Award went to the Redemptorists Centre for Music Concert Band.
Former members of the band led by the much loved Corbally band master gave a special performance at the reviewing stand to honour the man who was synonymous with marching bands in Limerick. Although Sammy passed away in 2020, this was the first time members of the band could gather to give him a musical farewell.
Bands performed at the reviewing stand for three minutes as part of the judging process with the winners announced during a jamboree at Arthur’s Quay Park following the competition.
Performances were judged by retired army Captain Brian Prendergast, Dr Evelyn Grant and Niall Carroll both from RTE Lyric fm.
In their concluding remarks the judges said: “The entire championship was really amazing, considering that these bands have been in a ‘deep freeze’ for the last two years. To have so many participants and in such great numbers, it was a really joyous occasion.”
“We knew the music would be good but the spirit of the festival was just extraordinary. The crowd was in great form too, they really enjoyed the music.
“One of the things that struck the judging panel was how marvellous the bands were. They really loved marching and performing and they were all so intergenerational, with one band having a seven-year-old pipe band major.”
The category winners were:
Best International Band – Toeternietoe Fest, The Netherlands;
Best Youth Band – Banna Cluain Meala, Clonmel, Tipperary;
Best Local Band – City of Limerick Pipe Band;
Best Musical Performance – Mullingar Town Band;
Best Uniform – St Mary’s Fife and Drum Band, Limerick;
Most Entertaining Performance – Friendship Band, Northern Ireland;
Sammy Benson Award – Redemptorists Centre of Music Concert Band, Limerick;
Special Award (Colour Guard) – Cedar Rapids Metro Marching Band, Iowa, USA;
Special Award (Pipe Band) – Killorglin and District Pipe Band;
Special Award ( Instrumentalist) – Pyjama Band ( lead trumpet player).