upper crossgare pipe band
The band received its name from the town land in which it is situated, Upper Crossgare, just outside the village of Dromara, Co. Down.
For many years music has been an attraction in the neighbourhood of Upper Crossgare, of course not just pipes and drums but also flutes and drums. Upper Crossgare wear the McLean of Duart tartan as pictured above and wear the clan crest on their cap badge and kilt pin.
The band has moved on significantly since its formation in 1936 and are currently, under the instruction of Pipe Major Trevor Connor, one of the top Grade 2 bands in the Northern Ireland Branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.
In early 1935 the members of the Upper Crossgare flute band decided it was time to change the type of music and plans were set in motion to prepare for instruments to change from flutes to pipes. The late Joseph Harte and the late Samuel Smyth were able to play the pipes and in August 1935 the Pipe Band Commenced.
Twenty young men commenced around the table with practice chanters. Joseph Harte was also capable of instructing the drummers and although all did not continue, sixteen pipers were able to take the road in 1936.
War broke out in 1939 and with many restrictions made regarding parades etc. the band was not taking part in any functions other than practicing. Like all other bands members left and others joined and with the end of the war in 1945 the band revived with William Chambers as their Pipe Major.
Duncan Graham became Pipe Major of the band in 1953 and the band continued to compete in local competitions with considerable success.
The bands first major success came in the World Championships which were held in 1962 at the Showgrounds, Balmoral, Belfast. The band under the leadership of Pipe Major Duncan Graham and Leading Drummer David Campbell gained second place in Grade 3.
However for a number years after this the band did not compete in any major contests. A plan base mainly on the introduction of new blood into the band paid off as the band began competing again in 1975. In August 1977 they travelled to Aberdeen for the World Championships and faced twenty seven other bands. They brought home the World Championship trophy for Grade 4 and were 2nd in drumming. Pipe Major Graham and Leading Drummer Wilby Hanna were on top of the world and when the party arrived back in Ballynahinch on the Sunday Night there was a large crowd, including television crews and cameramen, to greet them.
The band was then upgraded to Grade 3 in 1978 and had considerable success at local contests. In 1979 their travels took them to the World Championships at Woolaton Hall, Nottingham were they gained sixth place in Grade 3. Due to the bands continuing success, particularly at the World and European Championships in 1980, they were then promoted to Grade 2 in 1981.
The band moved along steadily in Grade 2 over the next number of years always in the prizes both at home and in Scotland.
1985 and 1986 turned out to be to important years in the history of the band. In 1985 after 32 years in charge P/M Duncan Graham decided to hand over the responsibilities as Pipe Major to Ivor Chambers, whom he had taught from an early age. Under Ivor’s leadership the band continued to compete at home and in Scotland, and in his first year in charge they were placed 3rd in the Scottish Championships. In the same year Ian Cherry assumed control of the Drum Corps from Richard Garnham and led the corps to 2nd place in the World Championships.
In August 1985 the band accepted an invitation to visit France to play at the Celtic Festival of Music at Lorient, Brittany as the Northern Ireland Representatives. The band also appeared at concerts at the Arts Theatre, Belfast and the Little Theatre, Bangor, Co. Down.
On the 12th March 1986 the band flew to Fort Worth Texas to take part in the Texas States celebration of its 150th year. They appeared on Coast to Coast Television and radio; at dinners, shopping centres, parades and local clubs.
Without doubt the Bands most successful season came in 1989. They began the season by winning the European Championship and then followed this up with three second places in Grade 2 at the World’s, the Cowal and at the Scottish Championships. The Drum Corps proceeded to win at all 4 of these Competitions resulting in them also winning the Duthart Trophy for the Drumming Champion of Champions in Scotland.
Because of these achievements the band were then nominated for upgrading to Grade 1. However, after one year in Grade 1 and seven years in charge Ivor Chambers decided it was time for him to step down as the Pipe Major of the band. It was agreed that Trevor Connor who was a member of the band should take over the position. Trevor then lead the band for three years in Grade 1. However, it was felt by the members that the band was not going anywhere and it would be better for the band to drop back down into Grade 2 and to build a band good enough to challenge those within the top grade. The 1994 season began in Grade 2 and with a new Leading Drummer. Drum Sergeant Ian Cherry decided to step down and Trevor McKibben was given the task of leading the drum corps. Trevor had been a member of the corps for 14 years and was the Drum Corporal.
Since dropping back down to Grade 2 the band has begun to find its feet and is once again among the top Grade 2 bands. Under Trevor’s leadership the band have won prizes in the Cowal, British and European Championships. They have also won the Ulster Championships for the last two years and have been Ulster Champion of Champions in both 1995 and 1997.
Under Leading Drummer Trevor McKibben the drum corps has also excelled. They have won the British Championships, been Runners-up at the European Championships and have won the Ulster and All- Ireland title for three years in a row, 1999 being a very successful year. The band continued steadily in the contest arena in 2000 and 2001.
The 2002 season was an excellent one with new leadership for the Drum Corps, Ian Cherry. The band practiced hard all winter and it eventually paid off when they finished third in the World Championships in Grade 2 and won the Worlds Drum Corps & Best Bass Section titles also.