“It was unusually hot and sunny; no rain since the beginning of the week,” said 18-year old Patrick Cahill of Bayonne, talking about the week leading up to the final bagpipe competition in Glasgow, Scotland recently. “It usually rains each day in Scotland. Scotland pipers are used to the rain and damp weather. We are not.”
Despite the rain, the energy level for him and the other performers was a nervous but confident kind.
While not quite winning Olympic gold, an 18-year old Bayonne boy returned from Great Britain this week after The Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band performed in Scotland. The bagpipe band, of which he is a member, became world champions, beating out 25 other bands from Canada and Scotland. Specifically, they became world champions of the Novice Juvenile Division, and they were the only United States band to place first in their division.
The only competing juvenile pipe band in the northeast United States, the Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band had only finished as high as third place in their previous two competitions.
“We practiced twice per day since Wednesday, Aug. 8, starting at 8 a.m.,” Cahill said, describing the competition as tough. They faced bands from George Watson College, Scotland; Robert Malcolm Memorial, Canada; and First Troon Boys Brigade, Scotland.
Cahill is well known around town because he routinely practices in local parks. For a while, he played with St. Columcille United Gaelic Pipe Band from Kearny, which marches in Bayonne’s St. Patrick’s Parade every year. Later, Cahill competed with the Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band from in Albany, N.Y., to which he travels weekly for lessons, plus one Saturday a month, a six-hour trip there and back from Bayonne.
In solo competitions at Liberty Corner earlier this year, Cahill came in third place in piping, as well as finishing fourth for performance of a classical tune on the bagpipes. Cahill said his solo career takes him from Maine to Florida, and most of his competitions take place during the summer.
“We practiced twice per day since Wednesday, August 8 - starting at 8 a.m.” – Patrick Cahill
Born and raised in Bayonne, Cahill attended P.S. No.14 School, now Nicholas Oresko School, and will be a senior at the Hudson County Schools of Technology in September. He said he has an eye on attending a military school with a good pipe band, as well as a possible stint in the U.S. Navy, another family tradition.
Cahill was one of two youth pipers and one tenor drummer presenting New Jersey in the Scotland competition.
The band’s world championship winning set included the Quick March Medley Set (2/4 Marches), which consisted of Greenwood Side, Pipe Major Willie Ross’s Farewell to the Scots Guard, Piper’s Cave, and The Earl of Mansfield.
“Fortunately, George Watson College played first; next was First Troon Boys; then, Scotia-Glenville,” he said.
Hearing three of the top four bands, the other being Robert Malcolm Memorial, playing back to back, Cahill said it seemed as it Scotia-Glenville would win.
“The band sounded solid and they had one of their best runs this season,” he said. “No member of the band was cut. During tuning and warm-up, some band members might be cut due to nervousness, mistakes, or instrument problems.”
What comes next?
In piping, Cahill has not decided yet. He is looking for something more challenging. But in the upcoming year, he is focusing on college applications. Cahill applied for a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship. If the college offers a piping scholarship, that would be a plus. Cahill said he has already had his interview with the Navy.