Rousing finale to 2014 Cowal Highland Gathering - Cowal Highland Gathering
29th - 31st August 2019

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News  »  Rousing finale to 2014 Cowal Highland Gathering

Rousing finale to 2014 Cowal Highland Gathering

As family days out go, this one was surely hard to beat.

Thousands of people from across the world gathered in Dunoon today for the finale of the celebrated Cowal Highland Gathering.

Competitors and spectators alike joined forces to ensure the event’s spectacular Saturday was a day to remember for everyone involved.

From the hundreds of dancers and pipers to the heavy athletes, runners, ceilidh tent performers, stunt cyclists and many other entertainers on show, every participant contributed to what was a fantastic day’s entertainment.

The standard of competition was breathtaking, with many of the world’s top competitors giving their all in a bid go home with the silverware.

One of the highlights of the Gathering’s final day – and one of the most fiercely contested – was, as always, the Cowal Pipe Band Championship.

This year, Inveraray & District Pipe Band managed to hold off the challenge of Lomond & Clyde (2nd) and Oban Pipe Band (3rd) to be crowned winners of the Grade 1 Cowal Pipe Band Championships 2014.

In the other sections and grades, the Cowal Pipe Band champions were:

Novice juvenile – Oban High School
Juvenile – Oban HighSchool
Grade 4- Coalburn IOR Pipe Band
Grade 3 – Johnstone Pipe Band
Grade 2 – Lomond & Clyde

Inveraray & District also won the Best Band on Parade. The champion juvenile drum major was Emma Barr from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and the champion adult drum major was Brian Wilson MBE of Lomond & Clyde, who also won the Mace over the Bar competition.

Today also saw the Argyllshire Highland Dancing competitions, with top honours going to Lisa McGillvray from Dunoon winning the under 13 years, Katie MacPherson from Oban won the under 16 years and Courtney Cowden from Dunoon in the 16 years and over.

Then came the biggest Highland Dancing competition in the world – the World Championship finals - with dancers from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA pitting their skills against the best the UK has to offer.

In the end, it was Erin Blair from the USA who triumphed in the World Juvenile finals, followed by Sophie Dunn from Canada (2nd) with Emma Schiffs from the USA in third. The trophy for the best Scottish Juvenile Dancer went to Ellie Dalrymple from Tranent.

By far the biggest cheer of the day came when the results of the World Junior championship were announced. Abbie MacNeil from Glasgow, who came second last year, went one better this year by being crowned World Champion, pushing the 2013 winner Maegan Sweeney from Canada into 2nd and Kaylee Finnegan from the USA into third.

The Adult World champion was Marielle Lesperance from Canada, followed by Aberdeen’s Rebecca Thow and Canada’s Chantal Watt.

At 2pm, back at the Burgh Hall, brave runners lined up for what must be one of the toughest 5K runs in the country – the Cowal Hill Race.

This year, it was won by Stanley Topalion from Westerlands Cross Country Club (Westies), with Paul Monaghan (Glenpark Harriers) second and Rod Fleming (Westies) third.

The first local home was Richard Reid. The winner of the women’s race was Ruth Joss of Shettleston Harriers, followed by Dunoon Hill Runners’ Lisa Marshall and Monica Thompson.

Throughout the afternoon, four of the world’s hottest traditional music bands entertained the crowds in the now-famous ceilidh tent.

Leading the pack once again was Oban-based Skipinnish, who brought the house down when they headlined the show last year and who also wowed the crowds at last night’s family ceilidh.

Today, they were joined by three of the hottest up and coming names on the traditional music scene – Hell for Leather, the Argyll Ceilidh Trail and the Reel Time Ceilidh Band.

While they were playing, the heavy athletes and wrestlers battled it out for top honours.

Jason Young triumphed in the men’s heavy athletics, with Heisi Geirmundsson from Iceland second and Bruce Robb third.

In the women’s competition, Lucy Marshall from England beat off the competition from Sylvana Bomholt (2nd) and Laura Gillespie (3rd).

Jason and Lucy were also crowned Cowal caber toss champions.

In the wrestling, the Female Open section was won by Eva Dogg Johandottir from Iceland, with Poline Sellin from Brittany second and Glasgow’s Erin McNeil third.

In the men’s Open competition, Iceland again triumphed with Olafur Siggnurson crowned champion, followed by Carnoustie’s Ryan Dolan (2nd) and Iceland’s Asmundur Asmundurson (3rd).

The weight category winners were Fredric Leyguydar from Brittany in the 9 and a half stone category, Gerald Brunou (Brittany) in 11 and a half stone, Scott Casrson (Aberdeen) in 13 and a half stone and Ryan Dolan (Carnoustie) in the 15 and a half category.

In total, there were 11 wrestlers from Brittany, 11 from Scotland and four from Iceland – a very impressive turnout which attracted enthusiastic support throughout the day.

This year, there was a bigger and better selection of entertainment for all ages than ever before.

One of the most popular draws proved to be the Clan mountain bike stunt team, which performed three gravity-defying shows to packed audiences.

Among the other new attractions were the Drakes of Hazard Duck and Dog display team and Glasgow Science Centre’s pop up 3D cinema.

A highlight for the younger visitors was once again ‘Artie’s Tartan Tales’. Veteran entertainer Artie Trezise – who spent 30 years as one half of The Singing Kettle - uses a tartan trunk full of souvenirs and trinkets as props for his traditional but interactive Scottish storytelling sessions.

Cowal Highland Gathering chair Ronnie Cairns said this weekend would go down as an exciting start to a new era for the famous event.

“The organising committee has worked very hard over the last year to ensure that the Gathering continues to evolve and improve, while at the same time retaining its core competitive and cultural elements,” he added.

“I hope the thousands of people who were here today were impressed by the quality and range of entertainment the event now offers.

“Of course the traditional elements of a highland gathering remain the foundation, but onto that solid base we are busy building a bright new future for this wonderful event.

“I am confident that having a broader range of attractions than we’ve had in the past not only improves the spectator experience for our regular supporters and spectators, but will also attract new visitors for the future.”

Ronnie made a point of thanking the Gathering’s sponsors – as well the people of Dunoon and the wider Cowal community – for their support for the 2014 event.

“On behalf of the Gathering’s organisers, I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over the last few months to ensure that the event was a success,” Ronnie said.

“I’d also like to thank the thousands of people who have come out to support the Gathering over the last three days. We’ve welcomed spectators not just from Argyll and Bute and Scotland more generally but from right around the globe, and the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’ll continue to look at ways to further improve the event in the future. We’re already looking towards the 2015 Gathering, and we’re looking forward to welcoming competitors and spectators back to Dunoon next August.”

Craig Anderson, Managing Director of The Scottish Salmon Company commented, ‘The Cowal Gathering is a wonderful celebration of Scottish culture and traditions. We are extremely proud to support our local communities as well as being involved in such a key date in the Argyll calendar, in the build up to the event and on the day itself.’

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: “The Cowal Gathering has once again proven to be a hugely successful event, which showcases Scotland’s rich cultural heritage. Bringing together thousands of people from around the world, the World Highland Dancing Championship finals and the coveted Cowal Pipe Band Championship were certainly highlights from the weekend. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and with spectators travelling to Argyll and Bute for the Gathering we will undoubtedly see economic and tourism impacts for the area this year.”


Residents and visitors are already starting to line the streets for the event’s finale this evening – the massing of the bands and their march down Argyll Street.

The final act of this year’s Gathering will be the Western Ferries firework display at Dunoon pier, starting at 9.00pm.

A full list of the results of all today’s action will be posted on the website as soon as possible.