ST.LAURENCE O'TOOLE PIPE BAND - A BRIEF HISTORY
In 1910 a meeting was organised by
the St. Laurence O'Toole Gaelic Athletic Association Club in the CBS
The main mover in forming the band
was Frank Cahill.
Frank was for many years an Alderman
of Dublin Corporation,and later a member of the new Irish Parliament
Amongst those present at the meeting
(later to become the first President of Ireland),and the
Irish playwright, Seán
The first President of the band
- who, in the oldest known surviving photo of the band, can
be seen in the centre behind the bass drum (click to enlarge the image)
The first Secretary of the band
Casey acted in many plays staged
by the St.Laurence O'Toole Dramatic Society to raise money for the band
Michael Colgan (later a Senator) was the first Pipe Major.
In 1918,the HQ of the band in 100
,Dublin were acquired by the band.
During the Irish
War of Independence
1918-1922,the HQ was attacked by the military on numerous occasions.
ripped out and thrown out into the street.
During the Great Strike of 1913
in Dublin (wherein the Irish Trade Union movement had its origins)
band was set upon by mounted police in Lombard Street while leading a
of workers on a protest rally to Liberty Hall
Some of the band members were injured
and their instruments smashed.
The band took part at the funerals
of many of the leaders of the nationalist movement of the time
, O'Donovan Rossa
man who is credited with winning the War of Independence and with
the Treaty which established the then Irish Free State
Following the War of
and the subsequent Civil War,the
band ceased to have any political
The St. Laurence O'Toole band was
the first band to broadcast from the newly formed Radio
in the 1930's when the station was known as
and one of the earliest Pipe
Bands to ever broadcast in Scotland,
this was when the band first visited
Games in Dunoon in 1925.
A concert was held in conjunction
with the games and was broadcast on the B.B.C. Scottish Programme.
first Irish band ever to visit England and America.
On the formation of the IPBA
the 1930's,the O'Toole's were one of the first bands to join and have
an integral part of that organisation ever since.
The St.Laurence O'Toole have taken
part in many contests in Ireland and Scotland and at one time or
have won every major award for Piping and Drumming in Ireland.
In 1958,the band won the All Ireland
Senior Championships and in doing so also won the Open Drumming prize.
The band was also successful in
Scotland taking two first prizes the same year.
The Pipe Major of the band at that
time was John Duggan and the Drum Sergeant was Frank Saunders , Snr.
Other officials included James Fitzsimons,Johnny
MacDonnell,Mick Lawless, Paddy MacDonnell,Frank Burns,Robert
Stokes,Jimmy Fleming and Patrick Brady.
Following the heady days of the
1950's the band began an unfortunate downward slide.
Several members fell by the wayside
due to commitments to the army and Pipe Major John Duggan resigned
There was a further decline in membership
and the band was not in a position to take part in competition .
No new Pipe Major was appointed
for some time but whenever a public engagement was undertaken,the late
Tommy Tully acted as Pipe Major.
Eventually,Tommy was elected as
Things got to such a dire state,however,at
one stage that there were only four active members of the band left -
Stokes,Seamus Casey, Tommy Tully,and Peter O'Rourke.
These four men decided to make one
last effort at reviving the band.
Dominic down to learn the pipes (Dominic later changed to the drums
and was drum sergeant in the band for many years).
Tommy Tully brought along his sons
Terry (now the almost legendary Pipe Major of the band and top class
New blood coming into the band gave
a renewed interest to some of the older members and the band began to
once again at contests.
During the period of decline the
band had been regraded to Grade 3.
In 1974,the band won the All Ireland
in Grade 3 and were subsequently up-graded to Grade 2.
reins to his son Terry.
At first,Terry just performed the
role of band tuner while his father still called the shots.
Eventually,Terry was to assume full
control and bring the band on to become the top outfit in the Republic
Sadly,Tommy Tully died in April
Tommy was well known in the Pipe
Band world as a 'character' and enlivened many an IPBA meeting with his
observations and comments.
In the introduction to his first
book of tunes,Terry Tully cites his father Tommy as having been the
influence on his playing career.
A great tribute indeed to a great
stalwart of the Pipe Band scene in Ireland.
Seamus Casey also died in 1984.
Seamus,despite his years, continued
to attend at band practices right up to the week before he died.
The pipers and drummers in the St.
Laurence O'Toole didn't pick their dedication up off the ground,as they
The band celebrated its 75th Anniversary
in 1985 and were to finish that year as Champion of Champions in Grade
2 in the IPBA.
The trophy presented was,rather
aptly,the Tommy Tully Memorial Trophy .
About this time,both Terry Tully
and Ronan Maguire (who joined the band in 1985) began to feature in
Ireland Senior Solo Championships between them and many other
too numerous to mention here.
1985 saw the band beginning to travel
up North again for some 'real' competition and gradually began to
in the prize lists.
In 1986,John Keogh took over as
Drum Sergeant from Dominic Casey who had done sterling work up to that
The band took 6th prize at the European
Championship in Stranraer that year
and played all the way back to the
Ferryport, up into the ferry and all the way home.
The improvement continued in 1987.
The band took prizes in 17 out of
17 contests and finished 2nd in the World
The band won thirteen out of fifteen
contests outright including the Leinster,Ulster,All Ireland and
The band also finished 3rd at the Cowal Championships
One placing higher in Dunoon that
year would have seen O'Toole's as Champion of Champions in Grade 2 in
Has any one ever explained why one
piping judge had the pipe corps 1st while the other piping judge had
17th out of 22 bands ??
And you feel hard done by at times
In 1988, the band were again placed
second at the Worlds and were subsequently upgraded to Grade 1.
1989 saw the band win its first
Grade 1 contest,at Moira,beating Field
Montgomery into second
- this was also the bands first outing in Grade 1.
The band were narrowly beaten into
second place at the All Ireland that year also,as the Moira result was
reversed - the contest was recorded by Lismor
Records and the album is
now a collectors item.
In 1991,the St. Laurence O'Toole
won the coveted Ulster Championships becoming the first band from the
of Ireland ever to do so and also take the Grade One event at the
Games in Scotland.
Recognising the quality of their
musical standard,the Irish government invited O'Toole's to the World
'92 in Seville,Spain along with such groups as The Chieftains.
1992 also saw the band gain a 4th
prize at the Cowal Championships
O'Toole's suffer from the same problem
as many Irish bands - lack of players to compete at the highest level.
The IPBA only has 50-60 pipe bands
spread over 26 counties ( i.e. approx. 24,000 square miles).
Players in O'Toole's sometimes have
to make round trips of 200 miles plus to practice,at their own expense.
This is a logistics problem that
is not easily solved.
The band have regularly been in the
prize list in Ireland but Scotland has been a tougher nut to crack -
This had been the band best season
to date - with prizes gained at the All Ireland,European and
Championships and a very credible seventh at the World
outside the prize list).
The pipe corps have gone from strength
to strength and the drum corp,now led by Stephen Creighton,are
a real contender for major honours -
they took the premier drumming prize
at the All Ireland and became the first Republic of Ireland band since
1966 to do so.
too - with prizes gained at three of the major championships in
After a shaky start at the first
major (Dumbarton), the band when on to gain placings at the British , Cowal
and European Championships - three 5th's in all.
Narrowly lost out on the All Ireland
title once again to the Field
The band won the medley, best bass
and tenor and also the drum corp retained their crown from the previous
The winner on the day being decided
on MSR piping preference as both bands were tied on overall points.
The band also finished up 9th overall
at the World
Championships, winning the morning qualifying
With a little more luck on the day
the band could have finished in the overall prizes as they were 6th in
the MSR in the final but too far down in the medley .
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be......
More great strides
were made in 2004.
The band for the first time in its
history gaining prizes in all five major championships.
Beginning with a 4th prize at the
Scottish Championships in Dumbarton.
At the British Championship in Turiff
the band moved up another notch in the pecking order......taking 3rd.
Next up was the European Championships
in Lisburn, and again the band went one better...........2nd.
Could the ultimate be achieved at
the next major, the Worlds......????
Not quite, but a very credible 6th
prize was gained and the celebrations continued long into the night(and
next morning !!).
The band finished off the season
at the Cowal Championships
in Dunoon with a 3rd prize.
Next up, the All Ireland Solo Championships and again this proved very
for the band players. Alen Tully and Stephen Creighton
took both Senior Piping and Drumming.
Stewart MacLeod took the Junior
Piping and Conor Sherry finished joint 2nd in the Intermediate
A very satisying season indeed.
The 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons, saw the band maintaining it position
one of the World's best pipe band's.
2005 was the year that the band recorded it's first album - live at the
Royal Concert Hall
in August - it can be purchased direct from
the band,click here
The most notable achievement in 2006 was the drum corp winning the
in Glasgow and also taking the Bass & Tenor Section title.
The 2007 season saw the band winning it's first Grade One
All-Ireland Championships since 1952 - a title which was
also retained in 2008.
Another highlight of the 2007 season was the band's invitation to
perform our "Dawning of thd Day" concert at the Carnegie Music
in the band's history as it's defining
moment - it's entry into the "big time".
Winning the Scottish and British Championships, runner-up in the
European and Cowal Championships and 5th overall at the World
This run of results saw the band crowned Grade One Champion of
Champions (Supreme Champions)
for the 2008 season - the first
band ever to achieve the feat and the first new name on the trophy
2009 saw the band maintain it's position at the top of Grade One,
with solid results in all the major championships......runner up at the
Scottish,European and Cowal
, plus the band's
highest placing to date at the World
The drum corp also had a fantastic season with wins in the Scottish,
European and All-Ireland Championships.
centenary year, has seen the band crowned World, European and
All-Ireland Champions - our drum corp also achieved the top prize in
all three championships.
The band also returned to the concert stage for the Pre-World's concert
at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - a complete
sellout - recorded for posterity and available as both CD and DVD.
As part of the celebrations for the 100th anniversary, we put
together a history
book for future generations plus a calendar & collage
poster - each will, in time, become collectors
To pay tribute to all those who have brought the band to where it is
today, a celebratory dinner took place for past and present
members in March.......... and the party went on for THREE DAYS !
The St. Laurence O'Toole repertoire includes
a large selection of Irish traditional tunes and also tunes composed by
our own members - (Terry,Dave Rickard ,Tim
Farrelly,Gerry Hanlon, Alen Tully and Richard Magowan,to name but a
few) and along with such bands as the
from Toronto have done much to have Irish
and hornpipes accepted as standard in pipe band selections.
Terry has also proven to be quite
a composer,with top bands around the world playing his tunes and he has
published four books - so far.
Not bad going for a band that started
life in a small hall in Dublin City Centre way back in 1910.
|Terry Tully - Book 1
||Terry Tully - Book 2
Tully - Book 3
||Dave Rickard - Book 1