Bands tune up for 'amazing spectacle' at Limerick's International Band Championship

The Clondalkin Youth Band at last year's band parade Picture: Sean Curtin/True Media

The Clondalkin Youth Band at last year's band parade Picture: Sean Curtin/True Media

OVER 20 bands, including seven from the United States, will take part in the 48th annual Limerick International Band Championship as part of the St Patrick’s festivities in the city.

Twenty-one bands in total will take part in Ireland’s only International Band Championship in Limerick on Sunday, March 18, with more than 1,300 participants marching the streets.

Bands from the United States, Germany, England, Northern Ireland, Limerick and across the rest of Ireland will compete in the championship for the overall Kenneally Jewellers Perpetual Trophy.

Among the visiting bands set to enthral the spectators include the 196-strong Jackson High School ‘Purple Army’ Marching Band from Ohio, the Lakeville South High School Marching Cougars from Minnesota with 160 people marching, and the 167-strong Vestavia Hills High School Band from Alabama.

The long tradition of marching bands from Limerick continues to be represented by Redemptorist Centre of Music Concert Band, who will be the first band to march, St Mary's Prize Band, CBS Pipe Band, Newcastle West & District Pipe Band, City of Limerick Pipe Band and Boherbuoy Brass & Reed Band.

Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Stephen Keary said: “It is such an amazing spectacle to watch the bands marching down O’Connell Street every year in the Band Championship. It is truly a unique event.

“The quality of the bands this year is very high this year and I’m calling on everyone who can to come to Limerick city centre on Sunday the 18th and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the championship. 

“We have something unique to Limerick and I’m delighted that it is still as strong and as awe inspiring as always.”

There are 11 bands from Ireland (or which six are from Limerick), seven bands from the United States and one each from Northern Ireland, England and Germany.

Sheila Deegan, Cultural and Arts Officer with Limerick City and County Council said: “It’s fantastic that the marching band tradition is alive and well in Limerick. Even on the coldest day the spectacular arrangements of music promise to warm the heart. Enjoy a free concert in Arthur's Quay Park afterwards and applaud the winners.”

The winners will be announced at Arthur’s Quay Park following the marching.  There are awards in several categories: Best International Band; Best Youth Band; Best Local Band; Best Musical Performance; Best Uniform; Most Entertaining Performance; Special Judges Award; Mayor’s Prize; Special Commendation Prizes (awarded at the judges’ discretion and Overall Winner - All Ireland International Band.

The traditional St Patrick’s Day Parade takes place on Saturday, March 17 and promises to have fun for all the family.  This year’s parade has Circus as its theme and Marion Fossett, ringmaster with Fossett’s Circus as Grand Marshal.

And all eyes will be on King John’s Castle for St Patrick’s Festival Extravaganza from 9pm on March 18, which was postponed from New Year’s Eve, in a collaboration between King John’s Castle and Limerick School of Art and Design LIT, with grant funding from Limerick City and County Council.