Rockaway Residents March With County Tyrone Pipers
On March 17 the Tyrone Pipers marched up 5th Avenue for their 71st consecutive year in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a feat matched by no other band in the parade. They were led by their Pipe Major, Dr. Peter Galvin. The County Tyrone Society and itpipe band were given the distinction of marching near the front of this year’s parade in honor of the All-Ireland Gaelic Football championship won by the Tyrone team this past autumn. Unfortunately their joy was tempered by the recent untimely death of the team’s young captain, Cormac McAnallen. The County Tyrone Pipe Band was founded in New York City during the depression in 1933 by immigrants from County Tyrone. The band is widely known for maintaining its Gaelic dignity and character through performance and competition of Irish music on bagpipes and drums. Thomas McSwiggan became the band chairman and then, for 38 years, Pipe Major. Popularity and success came quickly. First place at the United Irish Counties feis in 1935, performance in radio shows, and a well-received album in 1939. Dur ing the 1950’s, the band achieved further re cognition at Highland piping competitions. Within a short time, the Ty rone pipers were es tablished champions, ranking among the top pipe bands in the United States. Many Irish Pipe bands in the United States contain pipers and drummers – even a few Pipe Majors- trained by the Tyrone Pipers. This includes the newly formed Breezy Point band. Many current band members hail from the Rockaways. The current list of officers reflects this: Pipe Major – Dr. Peter Galvin; Pipe Sergeant – John Mc Fad den; Drum Major – Vincent McGuire; Drum Sergeant – Jack Murphy; Band Manager – John McManus (a former Pipe Major); and Treasurer – Carol Feeley. The band offers free instruction here in the Rockaways, maintains active status in the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association and the Irish Pipe Band Association in Ireland, and has performed extensively in the Northeast US as well as performances and competitions in Ireland and Canada. It wears its original signature saffron kilt, the traditional Irish pipers kilt. The band still maintains the essentials instilled by its founders 71 years ago: a proud Irish identity; and the goals of musical excellence.