PP Ed's Blog: WSJ/ Celtic Conns/ Letter/ Burgess Bagpipes/ South Florida Sell Out/ Sheila Finlay

Wasn’t it great to se the Wall Street Journal – of all people – taking an interest in pipe bands with their comprehensive story on band numbers yesterday? And it wasn’t because the reporter concerned played in a band either. In the best traditions of good journalism he had picked up the story from someone, did his research and produced a balanced article as a result.
It was the same with the freelance reporter who picked up the Barry Donaldson/ Colin MacLellan story a few weeks back and sold it to the Daily Mail. It too was balanced – as far as it could be. We’re still waiting for an explanation from Mr MacLellan.
Re the WSJ, I was quoted as saying I would prefer a cap with five ranks of four pipers sufficient, making a total of 20 on the grass. Maybe a total of 25 registered would allow bands some wriggle room to accommodate illness, family, work etc. Join the debate:


Congratulations to Celtic Connections on another successful festival with record attendances. Back in 1994 many people thought the promoters were crazy going for something in the middle of January. But I remember playing at that first festival and you could tell right away it was going to work. People were just delighted to have somewhere to go, somewhere to break the gloom of Scotland’s darkest  month.
The atmosphere was the same when I was there for the pipe band concert given by Johnstone Pipe Band a couple of Saturday’s ago. Everyone was up for some entertainment and the bars and foyer area were jumping with enthusiasm. Burgess Bagpipes had set up a stall and were doing a successful job of getting their brand known. By the way Burgess Bagpipes have nothing to do with the late John D Burgess. They’re named after Burgess Hay, John MacDougall‘s son-in-law.

Burgess and Scott Hay of Burgess Bagpipes pictured at CC

Going  by the instruments on show the firm turn out lovely looking sets of Highland and small pipes. John’s grandson, Scott Hay, is an accomplished player (he was taught by John) and he works with his dad in the firm. They are determined to foster John’s memory and have big plans to put his archive of audio recordings and manuscripts onto the firm’s website. John was a wonderful piper and this legacy will be of considerable benefit to piping. All the best to Burgess and Scott in their endeavours. They’re moving soon to Inverness so you’ll be able to catch them in the Highland capital.
Thanks to Duncan Watson for the fine shot (top) of John competing. Duncan, who has sent a few other shots too, writes: ‘I think I took the photographs in the 1980s and the venue was Cawdor Castle Games. As can be seen by the judges electing to sit outside, it was a day of pleasant weather. They were Neil Angus MacDonald who resided in Inverness and Norman Meldrum, Braemar.



Sorry to report the death of Sheila Finlay. Sheila was the larger than life character who brought cheer and encouragement to everyone who came into contact with her. Sheila was the wife of John Finlay and together they were great friends of Bob Hardie and his wife Betty. John died in 2010. Sheila supported John through all his days with Muirheads and shared in the good times and bad. For many years she was a regular at the Glenfiddich Championship and would have been known to all who attended the contest and the ceilidhs. Sheila’s funeral is at Daldowie Crematorium, Glasgow, on Wednesday February 14 at 12.45pm.


Letter posted today regarding Charles MacLeod Williamson. Read it here.


Noah Morrissette, organiser of the South Florida Pipe & Drum Academy: ‘We’re sold out with 24 full-time piping students, two part -time, nine full-time snare, one part-time, four bass and eight tenor students. Thanks to everyone. Looking forward to seeing you all at the end of the month.’