It was a great night out tonight for the members of Corduff Pipe Band near Carrickmacross in County Monaghan, along with their families and supporters. Over 100 gathered for a dinner at Corduff/Raferagh community centre, where the band practises every Thursday night at 8pm.
It’s a modern community hall, with a social club attached (The Mountain Dew), that was officially opened by President McAleese in December 2005.
The band are the current All-Ireland champions in the annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, having won the title in Sligo in 2014 and the previous year in Derry. Tonight they were presenting medals and certificates to around thirty band members. In at least two cases, there are three generations of the same family playing in the band.
The oldest member is eighty: President of the Band Patsy Finnegan. The youngest is eight years old, son of pipe major Sean Finnegan, whose father James is a drummer in the band. The band regularly appears at GAA County finals to entertain the crowd during the breaks.
The band was formed in 1917 as the Thomas Ashe Pipe Band. They won an All-Ireland title in 1973 and arising from it received an invitation to London to participate in the St Patrick’s Day parade in 1974 and to play in a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, one of the many memories Patsy Finnegan has. When he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife Ann last October, the band paid them a special tribute by parading into the chapel at Corduff and performing Amazing Grace in front of the altar. They also played this stirring tune when they joined with four other local pipe bands and the Fuzzy Burgers group in a fundraiser for the restoration of Castleblayney’s former courthouse/Market House building.