Formed in 1968 as "The Piping Society of Grand Rapids", the band consisted of roughly 10 members including its founding members: Alan Wilson, Ed Gavin, Jim Pringle, Harry Ohanesian, Bill Campbell, and Larry MacPherson.  Shortly thereafter, the group changed the name to the Grand Rapids Pipe Band and elected its first Pipe Major.  At the time, membership in the group was restricted to men (only) of  21 years of age (or older) which was in compliance with the military pipe bands.  This changed in 1970 when the first female student joined the band.

The Grand Rapids Pipe Band made its first television appearance on the local program, "The Buck Matthews' Show" (WOTV / Mar 1971).  By this time, the band was growing in number with several families having more than one member as a student.  In early 1972, Maureen Scobie began teaching Highland dancing to a handful of girls who were often included with the band during indoor performances.  It was later this same year the group attempted their first competition where they placed 3rd in Grade IV at the Alma Highland Festival.  The Michigan bands that participated at the festival were later invited to perform during the half-time program at the Detroit Lions/New Orleans Saints football game, televised from Tiger's Stadium (Nov 1972).

A special Burns' Night edition of  "The Buck Matthews' Show" (WOTV / Jan 25, 1973) brought another appearance of the band to local airwaves.  In the fall of that year, the GRPB organized a Trio & Mini-Band competition held at Ottawa Hills High School (Sept 21, 1973) and invited other pipe bands from the West Michigan area to compete.  Of the two trios put forth by GRPB, one took 2nd place while its mini-band not only took 1st place but was also awarded Drum Corps of the Day.

By 1974, the band was consisting of twenty-four members and started out the season with two 2nd place positions at the Midlothian Highland Games in the Slow March-6/8 and March/Strathspey/Reel competitions.  That same year, Buck Matthews, as co-chair for the Grand Rapids Arts Festival, invited the band to the opening ceremonies of Festival '74 - an event which, along with several other acts, was recorded on a souvenir album.
{Note: this recording of the band is now part of a special record in the Library of Congress}

In 1975, an attempt to compete in Grade III at both the Alma and Midlothian games proved discouraging for the band, so the rest of the season was spent competing in Grade IV.  The Scottish World Festival in Toronto (Aug 1975) saw the GRPB participating in the week-long event beginning with a parade through downtown Toronto and culminating with the Inter-Continental Competitions at the CNE.  The band was housed in the dorms at York University, along with other bands from the States, Canada, UK, Fiji, Nepal and New Zealand.  And while the group placed 10th out of 13 in Grade IV, the experience with so many other bands from different locales was well worth the trip.

As with most other bands, GRPB went through constant changes in membership during the 1976-1979 period with the biggest highlight during that time being the group's first "Tartan Ball" (Apr 1977).  The Tartan Ball was a fund-raiser featuring a dance band with guest pipe bands from the surrounding areas performing at different intervals during the night.

Heading south for competitions in Dunedin, Florida (Mar 1980) put the band in 3rd place as well as putting them in the Tattoo that was held in conjunction with games.  It also put the band in peril as the week-long trip gave our Drum Major a twisted ankle {received from a ditch on the playing field} and most of the other members a ride they will never forget {the trailer carrying them tipped over on the return trip}.

By 1981, major changes in the appearance of the band had begun.  First the name was changed to Fir-eunn Og Gaelic Pipes & Drums which in Gaelic means "the young, true eagles".  Along with the new name came a new uniform and due to the expense of new uniforms, competitions were forgone for the season.  It was also during this revamping of the band that we officially gained our tax-exemption status from the IRS.

In early September of 1981, the newly formed Midwest Pipe Band Association {MWPBA} sponsored a small competition on Chicago's Navy Pier, in conjunction with the Irish Family Days Celebration.  As it was the end of the parade season, the band chose to compete and placed 5th in Grade IV.

In July of 1982, the uniform was finally complete with the purchase of new Prince Charlie jackets and uniformed bag covers... just in time for competition in the Chicago PipeFest.  In spite of the heat and ill luck of the draw - opening position - the group looked good and sounded good and placed 4th in Grade IV.

In June of 1983, the band elected its second Pipe Major and made an appearance at the Milwaukee Irish Fest in August of that year.  But with the loss of band members earlier that year, competitions and many parades were forgone and by autumn Fir-eunn Og was down to 6 seasoned members, a street band of 9, a half-dozen learners and a new P/M.

In 1993, the band reached its 25th Anniversary and, in celebration of that milestone, held a Reunion Party that was well attended by its former members.  During the evening, after some encouragement, many of the former members picked up their instruments and played a few tunes with the group.  It was about this time when the membership felt that the name of the band should reflect its beginnings and so the Grand Rapid & District Pipe Band came to be with the "& District" being added to acknowledge those members that traveled in from beyond the boundary of Greater Grand Rapids.

From 1993 to 1995 as the band slowly changed uniforms, swapping out the Ancient Wilson for the Modern Baird and then adding the Black Argyle jackets, the group was also in a rebuilding phase as several members had departed.  In this period, the band elected its third Pipe Major, gained a friend with the Clan Baird Society Worldwide and set its sights on competing once again.

In October of 1996, GR&DPB participated in the opening ceremonies of the VanAndel Arena.  With two other area pipe bands, GR&D lead the way across the ice towards the center of the arena where the bands circled and performed a well received version of Amazing Grace.  (I think the audience was amazed that none of the band members lost their step while out on the ice.)  The group has also performed at several of the West Michigan Whitecaps home games, during the half-time of a Griffins' game and at the anniversary event for the Grand Rapids Children's Museum.

During the latter part of the 90's, the band not only reached its highest number of members but maintained that number for several seasons with an average of 10 pipers and 8 drummers.  Of course those sorts of numbers are hard for most bands to maintain, but GR&D can still put forth a decent size group for any occasion.  It was also in the latter part of the decade that GR&D finally went online registering its domain name ( and bringing our group to you and many others online.

2018 has the band celebrating its 50th anniversary and represents a new resurgence for the band. Many of the members are just starting out their journey on the pipes, but have been very eager to keep learning.