Cowal Pipe Band


The birth of our band started with an informal relaxed meeting of six local friends with musical “minds”, all sitting down at the kitchen table of a local hotel, over a coffee, one mid -summer morning in 2008. As, all the gentlemen present, were previously players in various pipe bands over the years, it was the nature and way of natural progression that they went on to discuss the possibility of starting a brand new band here in Dunoon.

The general thought being that there was enough room and interest in the possibility of having three local bands, working together and providing a range of ages and playing abilities, whereby ensuring that all the local talent that was out there, could be involved in some capacity or another, with whichever band they chose to join. After further discussion, the group decided to have another meeting the following week to see if any further interest by any more interested parties could be established.

By the third meeting early August, the six male members had been joined by Maggie Macbrayne and a committee was set up with Maggie being invited to become band secretary. One of the first topics discussed was what the new band would be called. After much thought and deliberation, the seven members decided that the name would not include the words Argyll or Dunoon, thus avoiding confusion or upset within the other local bands. Also, as this band was going to represent the whole area of Argyll that we live in, Cowal was the obvious and unanimous choice. Cowal Pipe Band was born!

It was agreed by the committee that a public meeting should be held as soon as possible, to further establish interest and to confirm that people would become members of our new band. The meeting was held in Kirn Church Hall, the first week of September 2008 and the committee was delighted that over 100 interested people turned up, many signing applications as players and non-players there and then. Regular band practices were arranged at Kirn Church Hall, once a week, under the tutoring of Alan Brown as Pipe Major. Alan had kindly agreed to take the new band forward for as long as possible, given his work and family commitments, until someone else could take over the mantle on a permanent basis. Sadly at that point, one of the founder members of the band, Mr Mick Cuddihy, a drummer, had to leave the ranks, as he was relocating to Canada to get married and to work. He continues to watch the band’s progress with interest from Calgary where he now stays.

During these early days, a fundraising committee was set up, and fundraising started in earnest. We were very fortunate to have Mrs Christine Goffin take over as convener of the fundraisers and a massive amount of time and effort was put in on behalf of the band by Christine and the others to get as much money for the band to get kitted out, pay for the hall for practice etc etc. Within our first year, we raised over £20,000 between grants, fundraising events and donations from local business and supporters. The committee meantime was also extremely busy, with monthly meetings to discuss the band’s progress and usual business relating to the band. During one of the early committee meetings much discussion took place as to which tartan the band should wear.

Obviously, this was another exciting aspect of a new band starting up, and the committee was desperate to get it just right. It was agreed that to ask the band members what tartan they would like to wear, would likely cause some debate and possible disagreement, so it was decided there and then that each member of the committee would draw up a list each, of their three favorite tartans, and then a shortlist would be drawn up of the three most popular overall. From those three, one would be the choice. We were left with the choice of Scotland the Brave, Heart of Scotland, and Pride of Scotland. We chose the latter, changed the thread count on some of the colours, removed a line here and added a line there and after an official thread count, the order for Cowal Pipe Band Tartan was submitted to DC Dalgleish and Co. of Selkirk on our behalf. Dalgleish and co are one of only a few traditional weavers of tartan cloth in Scotland, so we were very proud to be associated with them.

Meanwhile, Maggie was working hard getting the band charity status with OSCR, the Office of Scottish Charities Register. This was finally achieved and the band could officially apply for grants etc. We were soon very fortunate to have Kevin Moffat, a local police officer, agree to take over officially as Pipe Major of Cowal Pipe Band at the beginning of March 2009.. Kevin was a Grade 1 piper with Strathclyde Police Pipe Band and brought his own unique style and expertise to the members. Shortly after Kevin took over, the band was fortunate to be able to secure the use of the Cowal Indoor Bowling Club for practice, and we continued to enjoy the excellent fascilities that the bowling club offered. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds and the need to have two practice nights a week, we have had to return to the less expensive Kirn Church Hall. This hall is also extremely suitable for the requirements of a pipe band and CPB is very grateful to be able to hire it as required. At the beginning of October 2009, CPB gained the much needed help for the young inexperienced drum corps, in the guise of Mr Craig Lawrie, as drum tutor. Craig was the Leading Drummer of Clydebank Pipe Band, which won the World Drumming Championship in Grade 3A in 2009. This helped the young members focus quite quickly, and it was apparent that once a mature leading drummer could be found, the drum corps would become very accomplished. Craig also took on the job of maintaining the instruments on our behalf, as up until recently, they were on loan from the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band.

The COEPB offered us the chance to buy the drums when we became financially secure, and Cowal Pipe Band too k the opportunity to do just that recently. Recently, there have been a lot of major changes within the band, with a turn around of members, including the change of Pipe Major. Unfortunately, Kevin decided to have a break from playing and competing, as did some of the others. However, it is our very good fortunes to have PM Gordon Lawrie agree to come along and take over the band and get us ready for our very first season in competition. He is ably assisted by his other very talented son, Chris, who has taken over as Leading Drummer of CPB. The band count themselves very fortunate indeed to have these three very talented, committed and dedicated musicians within our ranks, and we know we can look forward to many successes on and off the field. It is the hope of everyone involved with CPB, that we can make Cowal and the people of Dunoon very proud of us for the foreseeable future.