Argyllshire Gathering Judges and Background to this Prestigious Competition

AG logoThe adjudicators for this year’s Argyllshire Gathering to be held at Oban on August 26 and 27 are as follows: 

Bill Livingstone, Iain MacFadyen, John Wilson.

Willie Morrison, Jack Taylor, Bob Worrall.

Patricia Henderson, Ronnie MacShannon, Alan Forbes.

Malcolm McRae, Robert Wallace, Bill Wotherspoon, Andrew Wright.

Jimmy Banks, Ian McLellan,  Stuart Samson.


‘A’ March: Barry Donaldson, Iain MacFadyen, Stuart Samson.

‘A’ Strathspey & Reel: Jimmy Banks, Bill Livingstone, Ronnie MacShannon.

‘B’ March: Willie Morrison, Robert Wallace, John Wilson,

‘B’ Strathspey & Reel:  Andrew Frater, Ian MacLellan, Andrew Wright.

Jig: Alan Forbes, Patricia Henderson, Bob Worrall.

Locals/Juniors: Malcolm McRae, Jack Taylor, Bill Wotherspoon.

(The picture top shows 2014 Gold Medallist Douglas Murray leading the march to the Games.)

US piper Mike Rogers leads the march to the Games in 2000
US piper Mike Rogers leads the march to the Games in 2000. Who can name the other pipers?

To get readers into the mood for one of the biggest days in the piping calendar, here is a note written by editor Robert Wallace for the Oban programme a few years ago:

Success at the Argyllshire Gathering is Every Piper’s Dream

It all starts with a ‘by the right, quick march’ and off you troop up the hill to Mossfield Park and one of the proudest moments of your piping life. You will be pipe major in casual command of some of the best pipers in the world and you will have been, the previous day, announced as the winner of the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal. In piping, it doesn’t come any better than that. It means you have joined a hallowed club, a privilege not enjoyed by every piper on the planet, even some very good ones.

So there you are, playing up the road at the head of a grand parade of all the local lairds and their ladies, with the Duke of Argyll himself enthusiastically in train. And it is the Duke we must thank for the current precedence given to the pipers. We all know the story of how in the 19th century the Army declared that the newly created regimental pipes and drums must follow the example of the fife and drum bands: drums first in parade.

It caused uproar, pipers refusing to be led by ‘sticks and skin beaters’. The War Office, faced with mutiny in the ranks, was, uncharacteristically, unable to make up its mind. After much wrangling the matter went all the way to Queen Victoria herself – and the great lady was unequivocal. ‘The pipes must lead’, she decreed. Pipers everywhere doffed their bonnets in gratitude and strode to the front of the column. From that day to this every pipe band in the world is led by pipers. And so the Duke has ruled at Oban. After years of following the dignitaries from pier to park, the pipers now assume their rightful place at the head of the parade; and get a dram at the end of it to boot!

The march to the games is just one tradition that marks the Argyllshire Gathering out from all the other Highland games that take place each summer in Scotland. Yet there are other ingredients which make this gathering unique. We have the bonnie town of Oban itself and the hustle and bustle of a busy ferry port taking visitors and locals to western isles in the heart of the Gaeltacht, the mother lode of pipe music.

The sea tang and a Gaelic song are never very far away and add to the atmosphere – a ceilidh can break out at any time. Yes, the weather may be bad, but it seldom lasts all day. In 37 years of unbroken attendance I can’t remember a complete washout, storm clouds hurried on their way by brisk south westerlies.

And we mustn’t forget the townsfolk. They seem to enjoy having the pipers in their midst (just a pity the local school kids don’t get a day off for the games). They know their piping do the Oban folk and it shows in the cheery welcome the harassed piper, anxious about his performance, always gets when he calls in to a local bar for something to calm his nerves.

Piping seems to be in the genes of Argyllshire people. We only have to look at the marvellous contribution they have made, and continue to make, to the national music. It was at the Argyllshire Gathering that the Piobaireachd Society – formed to preserve and foster the classical music of the pipes, ceol mor – was first mooted. It was in Argyllshire (at Kilberry), in 1877, that one the greatest figures in piping, Archibald Campbell, first breathed the air of his native land and went on to do magnificent work in collecting and transcribing so much of our music for posterity.

From top to bottom the county produced a stream of brilliant pipers, brilliant composers and brilliant teachers, Hugh MacCallum, George MacIntyre, John MacColl to name but three. And in Stuart Liddell (Inveraray), Angus MacColl (Benderloch) and Iain McKerrall (Campbeltown) we have three modern champions of one or all of these essential disciplines.

So as you wander round the ceol mor competitions or games park at this year’s event spare a thought for the piper on the boards competing for all he or she is worth. They will have spent most of the year preparing for this moment, the moment of truth on one the toughest stages there is. Listen attentively and you will hear the finest piping of your life and later raise a glass to the wonderful musicians who each year make the wonderful Argyllshire Gathering such a special occasion – and Oban such a special place in the hearts and minds of pipers the world over.

[wds id=”17″]



4 thoughts on “Argyllshire Gathering Judges and Background to this Prestigious Competition

  1. Good photo! 2nd/3rd row includes John-Angus Smith, Rob Crabtree, Finlay MacGhee and Donald Mackay?

  2. Rab

    From left to right Michael Rogers, Graham Roy, Iain Hirst, Anne Spalding and Leslie Hutt, behind Graham is Andrew Hayes

  3. Hi Rab,
    Much as I love old photos, this one is way too hard for your average drummer. Look forward to some reader naming the players though, as I think I would only get one. Looks to me like Les Hutt on the extreme right.
    All the best
    Stewart Gardiner

    1. Good point Stewart; let’s have some drummer pix to test the pipers with. RW

Comments are closed.