Daniel Laidlaw VC/ Inverness Junior Piping/ Blackthorn Pipers/ Whisky Galore

laidlaw-drawingAs part of its WW1 commemoration series, the BBC has published a good wrap up on Piper Daniel Laidlaw VC, KOSB. There’s an interview with his grandson Kevin Laidlaw. Kevin, also a piper, went to Loos in 2005 for the 90th anniversary of the battle.

He says: ‘I stood out and played The standard on the Braes o’ Mar which was the regimental charge of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, which was the tune he went into after the Blue Bonnets. Then three of us marched up the road playing the Blue Bonnets.’

Mr Laidlaw and his father then handed the piper’s medals (above top) to the National Museum of Scotland. He says: ‘It was very proud, but emotional, in the sense that people lost their lives… The sun was shining there was a wee bit of a breeze, perfect conditions for piping. On 25 September 1915 the weather wasn’t quite a good and it would just be gunfire, shells….. absolutely horrendous.’

Read the full story here.


inverness logoThere’s still time to enter the Inverness Junior Piping on October 3rd. Entries close this Friday. Alastair Campbell, Secretary of the promoters, Inverness Piping Society has sent this: The 2015 Annual Junior Piping Competition will take place on Saturday 3rd October 2015 in Inverness High School, Montague Row, Inverness, IV3 5DZ   – commencing at 9.30am. Entry is open to competitors 17 years and under (13 different events). Completed entry forms should be returned by no later than Friday 25th September 2015. Registrations close 9.00 a.m.’ Get your entry form here.


Blackthorn pipers badge cropAndy Wilson of the Blackthorn Pipers Society has sent this: ‘This October sees the 5th season of The Blackthorn Pipers’ Society get underway. The first gathering will be held on 23rd September and will be at a new venue. Still held in Dromore, Co. Down the gatherings will be held at the Thyme Square Bistro in Dromore Town Square. Doors open at 7.30pm as usual and everyone is welcome. This was our venue when we first began.

‘The Blackthorn Piper for the evening will be Sean Maloney who resides in Limerick. Sean is a multi talented pipe band musician and can also play the drum. A remarkable achievement playing both instruments to a high level. He is fresh from his victory in Glasgow winning the CLASP competition where he attained an all expenses paid trip to the Amateur Grade One Metro Cup competition in New Jersey, USA. The ‘invitation only’ competition takes place early next year, We wish him the very best.

‘The Society is open for anyone with an interest in Bagpipe Music and we invite you to join us to play, to listen or to simply enjoy our company. The Blackthorn Gatherings are run with members performing throughout the Gathering. We encourage all types and styles of Bagpipe Music as it is the instrument and the music that we celebrate. The Blackthorn Gatherings have a main performance at the end of the Gathering where a member will bring us to a close playing our most celebrated Bagpipe Music (Ceol Mor) or Piobaireachd.

‘The Blackthorn Pipers’ Society is not a place to come and be judged, nor a place to come and judge. It is a way to celebrate The Great Highland Bagpipe and all that comes with it. Below is the list of Society dates for the coming season: Held on Wednesday nights at Thyme Square Bistro, Dromore, Co. Down. Doors open at 7.30pm.
2015: Sept 23, Oct 21, Nov 18Dec 16
2016: Jan 20Feb 17Mar 16Apr 20, May tba’


Final words on Whisky Galore come from US pipers Ed McIlwaine and Nick Hudson. Firstly Ed: ‘I believe Neil Angus Macdonald was piper and Sir Compton Mackenzie the author of the book. I’m sure someone will have answered that by now. I also think that The Sprig of Ivy was composed by Bruce Seton, a lead actor in the film. At least that’s the way I remember it. Perhaps it’s common knowledge?’

Nick: ‘The writer was of course Sir Compton Mackenzie and the piper is no less than Neil Angus MacDonald, if I’m not mistaken, one of my favourite reels by Donald MacLeod – and Neil Angus penned many good tunes as well.

jlcampbell and mf shaw‘A vague Pittsburgh connection here, though I have to work to get it. The folklorist John Lorne Campbell was very close with Compton Mackenzie on Barra, a writers’ coterie of sorts, and they worked together to advocate for fishing rights for the islanders. Anyway, Margaret Faye Shaw married John Lorne Campbell (left) and speaks of Compton Mackenzie in her autobiography, ‘From the Alleghenies to the Hebrides’ (in which she also writes interesting anecdotes of her interactions with John MacDonald of Inverness and Seton Gordon). John Lorne Campbell was to buy the isle of Canna with Compton Mackenzie, but the latter had to pull out at the last minute due to unforeseen financial constraints, leaving John Lorne Campbell and Margaret Faye Shaw with an expensive island to care for. In retirement they ended up donating the island to the National Trust of Scotland.

‘The tenuous straw for which I’m grasping? Margaret Faye Shaw was from Pittsburgh, naturally! However I can’t say with any confidence that she was a Steelers fan, though her family was involved in the steel industry. The Steelers became a team in 1933, just after she had left for South Uist where she produced her magnum opus, ‘Folk-songs and Folklore of South Uist’. This work was very important as it was one of the first ethnographic records of traditional, unaccompanied Gaelic song, exactly as sung by the people, not notated as an art-song with English words and piano accompaniment.