On Wednesday 2nd July, the Thomas MacDonagh Pipe Band travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin where we were invited to play at a garden party hosted by President Higgins and his wife Sabina. The band was invited to play in recognition of its 50 years in existence.
After we got through the check point (Sgian Dubhs and all!), we had a quick tune up and then it was time for our “photo shoot”. We played in the garden for the invited guests and it is fair to say the pipes and drums have never sounded better. When President Higgins and Sabina emerged from the Áras, they were greeted by Joe Barry. The President was presented with a Glengarry Cap and badge and Sabina was given a book about the history of Templemore, Clonmore and Killea. We then joined the rest of the party and enjoyed performances by Rackhouse Pilfer, Margo, Little John Nee and We Banjo 3. President Higgins later took to the stage and in his speech he thanked the “magnificent” Templemore Pipe Band.
Playing for President Higgins was such a surreal experience for us all and it is only now that we can realise the magnitude of this honour. To think our Pipe Band from Templemore played for Uachtarán na hÉireann is wonderful. Our band has played in St Patrick’s Day parades in New York, London and Paris and this occasion is most definitely one of its greatest achievements. It is also one of the proudest days in our 50 year long history. Ray D’Arcy was MC on the day and on his radio show on Thursday morning, he spoke about the band and praised its achievements.
All in all, it was an honour and a privilege to play at Áras an Uachtaráin and the day really instilled a great sense of pride in each and every one of us. I think all band members will agree that we, as a unit, were particularly thrilled for Joe Barry who has dedicated his life to this band for the past 50 years. It was a wonderful moment to see his efforts and commitment being recognised.
Congratulations to Joe and Stan Cummins, both of whom have been there from the very beginning. We must also thank John Crowe and Martin Fogarty, who very quietly organised this day over the past few months. Both men were tireless in their efforts to make this wonderful dream a reality. A huge thank you to our bus driver/photographer/”committee-member” Aidan Johnston who did such a great job with the photographs. Finally, thank you to the President Higgins and his lovely wife Sabina for the wonderful hospitality. Cuimhnímid ar an lá seo go deo a chairde.