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Closkelt

History

The band was formed in 1938 in the townland of Drumgooland, situated in rural County Down between Banbridge and Castlewellan. During the war years of 1939 – 1945, and as a result of WWII, many bands ceased to exist in Northern Ireland, but the dedication and enthusiasm of the local men ensured the Closkelt band kept going. In 1949, complete with new drums, and now known as Closkelt Highland Pipe Band, the band entered the contesting arenas.

However, the band was not without difficult times and for a period, membership was low, but due to the perseverance from its most loyal members, new recruits emerged and the band regained strength. With the introduction of new uniforms and with the band no longer wearing full Highland Dress it was renamed as Closkelt Pipe Band.

In recent times, and under the auspices of Mr James Knox MBE, the band went on from strength to strength, re-entering the competition arenas in May 2007. With the welcomed introduction and expertise of St Laurence O’Toole piper, Mr David Chesney in 2010 the band went on to triumphantly win the Grade 4B World Pipe Band Championship in Glasgow in 2011 and the band was promoted to Grade 4A for 2012.

David Chesney left St Laurence O’Toole and took on the role of Pipe Major full time with Closkelt. His son Jonathan, a fellow SLOT piper also followed shortly after as Pipe Sergeant with the band being double promoted to Grade 3A in 2015 and then on to Grade 2 from the 2016 season.

More recently in 2017 the band took on a new look. An original custom made tartan was created and was proudly named ‘Drumgooland’ after the townland. The year also saw new members joining with the whole Mid-section being reformed. The band achieved many successes throughout the season which included winning the Ulster Championships and were eventually crowned Grade 2 Northern Ireland Champion of Champions and Grade 2 NI Bass Section Champion of Champions. Another proud highlight was Drum Major James Kennedy wining both Juvenile British and World Drum Major Championship titles.

In 2018 Mr James Knox was officially named as Pipe Major Emeritus for his continued commitments to the band. Now in its 80th  year, plans are underway to mark this important anniversary of the band later in the year. Continuing to develop further and with a new Leading Drummer, Mr Alastair Hopper arriving in October 2017 together with new pipers and tenor drummers joining the ranks throughout the off-season, the whole band is now looking forward to a very prosperous 2018 Season.