If any band deserves the support of National Lottery funding for good causes and to blow its own trumpet, it’s the St Mary’s Pipe and Reed Band in Kingscourt, which has introduced music to over 1,000 recruits in the course of the last 101 years.
Today, the County Cavan band continues to take in between 20 and 25 new recruits annually and has approximately 40 members in its junior section alone.
“There’s not a family, who, if they are not involved directly, are supporting the band through our fundraising efforts so we feel it’s a nice legacy for the area,” explains PJ Flynn (79), the band’s most senior member, who plays the E-Flat double bass.
The award-winning band has proudly represented county and country in Hungary, Switzerland, at three Wembley Tournament Games in the 1970s and at St Patrick’s Day parades on two occasions each in New York and London.
The band was formed in 1916 when £100 was raised locally to purchase a collection of brass instruments, which had been abandoned in McCullough Piggots in Dublin after a British Forces regiment was redirected to France. By Christmas that first year they were performing carols and hymns.
It became a regular feature at Oireachtai, football matches and Feiseanna through the years.
Last year, they even managed to acquire a disused crèche on a ghost housing estate in the town, providing them with first-class facilities for rehearsals and music classes.
With a €3,200 grant from National Lottery good causes funding, they purchased a photocopier, new clarinets and crucially, a piano, which has enabled their space to become a centre for the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
“The future is looking quite bright. With the wide range of instruments we now have, we are looking at the possibility of developing into a School of Music,” reveals a proud PJ.
And that surely deserves a drum roll!
Approximately 30 cent of every €1 spent on games go back to National Lottery funding for Good Causes in the areas of sport, youth, health, welfare, education, arts and heritage. Over €5 Billion has been raised for Good Causes since the National Lottery was established 30 years ago. In 2016 alone, the National Lottery raised over €210 million for such good causes.