Band trip to Limerick, Ireland

15th - 18th March 2008

Saturday 15th: Arrival

A very excited youth marching band from Kent met at Hayesbrook School in the early hours to travel to Stanstead Airport. The band were travelling to Limerick, Ireland to represent England in an International Band Competition and St. Patrick's Day Parade. Flying into Cork, the band made their way to Limerick and arrived at the Youth Hostel late afternoon to find the van that contained all the kit, instruments, uniforms and luggage parked outside the Youth Hostel. The band drew a huge sigh of relief, especially the girls as they now had the most important item for the trip, hair straightners. Once the van was unloaded and the band had been fed and watered it was straight down to business to prepare all of the uniforms and instruments for the following day's event.

Sunday 16th: International Parade Band Competition

After a hearty breakfast the band travelled to Limerick city centre to take part in the Parade Band competition. There were 14 bands taking part from Germany, America, Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and us from England. Once the band had un-loaded all the instruments it was show time and the they marched into their starting position. The bugles and fifes went down a storm with the audience and as they marched down O' Connell Street they were met with rapturous cheers and applause. Once the parade was over the bands congregated in Arthur’s Quay and played a couple of pieces of music each. The 17th took the opportunity to show off traditional British bugle marches such as Swing March and Mechanised Infantry and the drum section performed a Marines style show. Drum Major, Steve Spicer also showed the crowd why he's National Champion with some fine mace drill and flourishing. As the band played, some of the Instructors were interviewed by local radio and TV.

Once the band had been given the fall out, it was off to the local bowling alley. The highest score went to Ben Racher. Well done Ben. On the way back to the Youth Hostel the band stopped off at St.Finnachta's National School, to meet the local scouts from Sixmilebridge. The band then played a selection of music for them and spent time exchanging stories and experiences.

The evening was spent with a local folk group where the band were introduced to some traditional Irish instruments. They were also treated to some traditional Irish dancing which included a man doing some interesting things with a broom. The band took their fifes along hoping they could play for the locals and played "It's a long way to Tipperary" and "Musket Fife and Drum", the theme tune from the ITV series, Soldier Soldier. The band were complimented on the standard of their music and after a very long day it was back to the youth hostel for some well earned rest.

Monday 17th: St.Patrick's Day Parade

It was another early start for the band as they made there way back into Limerick to take part in the St.Patrick's Day Parade and celebrations. The parade was so big it had to being formed up in two different places. The band took their place at the TA barracks and had a chance to talk to some of the other participants in the parade waiting for the step off. The parade was made up of over 150 floats, bands, local groups etc and it was reported that there was over 50,000 people gathered to watch. The bands unique style was once again, received well by the crowds, especially the traditional fife marches.

After the parade had finished, the band had a free afternoon in Limerick to soak up the St.Partick's Day celebrations and to purchase some very large green Leprecaun hats. That evening the van had to be packed with all the kit, uniforms and instruments as it was leaving for the journey home that night. After two days of hard work the band could finally relax in the youth hostel before the return journey home.

Tuesday 18th: Going Home

Once the band had packed up the rest of their gear it was time to say goodbye to the youth hostel and begin the journey home, but there was time for one last sight seeing trip. Bunratty Castle is a traditional Irish village. The band had a guided tour of the castle and then time was spent seeing how Irish people lived in earlier times. A particular favourite was the tea shop, they served fantastic homemade scones. Lovely!

But all good things must come to an end It was back on the coach to catch the 6.50 flight from Cork back to Stanstead. The coach journey back to the airport gave the band time to chat and talk about the trip and the coach was still buzzing from an amazing and throughoughly enjoyable four days. The band finally arrived safely back in Tonbridge late evening to be greeted by the now infamous white van with all the equipment and parents.

A big thank you goes to everybody who made the trip such a success including all the leaders and helpers, sponsors, fund raisers, Mike & Pauline who drove the van and of course the band members who performed so well.



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