Archives: Uist & Barra/ Bob Hardie/ Northern Meeting/ Donald MacPherson

This year’s Uist & Barra competition was cancelled due to the weather and we await details of a rearranged date. In the meantime a delve into the PP archives has revealed this cutting from the Daily Record of February 12, 1951, confirming that the contest was held even earlier all those years ago. These days it is usually on the first Saturday in March. 

Under the headline ‘Portrait of prize piper’, the caption reads: ‘This braw piper is Robert G Hardie of Bishopbriggs, who won the Finlay S. MacKenzie Challenge Trophy for piobaireachd playing at the Uist & Barra Association’s piping competition for professionals in Glasgow High School on Saturday.‘ We think it unlikely that any of the tabloids today would treat piping in such a respectful way.

The Daily Record clipping

Incidentally the article to the right of the picture may be of interest to students of Scottish history. It concerns the theft of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalists. It reads: ‘Stone – Latest; Young Teacher Questioned by Detectives; Because she resembles the woman in the car which was parked outside Westminster Abbey when  the Stone of Destiny was removed, a Ross-shire school teacher, Miss Catherine Mathieson, has been questioned by Special Branch Detectives’.

On the subject of Robert Hardie the editor has received this from piper Allan Skalazub formerly of the Triumph Street Pipe Band in British Columbia: ‘Here is the photo of Hal with Bob and Jimmy Hardie and you in the background. By the way, we met in Vancouver in the 1970s when you were visiting Hal [Senyk] and I had you over to our house after band practice one dark and wet Vancouver night.

P/M Bob Hardie is pictured at the European Pipe Band Championships at Shotts in 1976. In the foreground (right) wearing sunglasses is P/M Hal Senyk of Triumph Street. His band were making their first visit to Scotland. Behind Hal is Jimmy Hardie, Bob’s son, and far left with the Afro hairdo is our Editor then aged 25

‘I remember Muirheads from our two trips to Scotland in the 1970s and also from that time in Toronto at the CNE in 1977.  Bob Hardie also came to Vancouver to judge in 1976 and that is how I first met him. I recall drinking in Toronto at York University with a bunch of Muirheads including a guy called Budgie.  That time, August 1977, was when Elvis Presley died so I have lots many vivid memories of that trip.’

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This programme from the Northern Meeting 1950 makes interesting reading. The competition was held in the Northern Meeting Rooms and the programme must be from the second day of the meeting. We believe the March and Gold Medal contests may have been held outdoors the previous day.

The programme lists three adult contests, Clasp, Strathspey & Reel and Jig, and one junior. Tunes for the Clasp were four: Mary’s Praise, MacKintosh’s Lament, Lament for Ronald MacDonald of Morar and the Nameless tune ‘Cherede Darievea’. All pipers had to submit these tunes and were asked to play one of them.
Twenty nine pipers entered – this was an open contest with the Clasp going to the winner only if he had previously won the Gold Medal at Inverness – Oban did not count! The pipers entered were: P/M Donald Maclean, Ballantrushal, L/Cpl George Johnston, Lowland Brigade, William MacDonald, Benbecula, R Henderson, Dundee, Cpl. Peter Forbes, Dundee, P/M George Stoddart, Sgt. Charles Scott, P/M Donald MacLeod, Seaforths, P/M McGrady HLI, John Garroway, Glasgow Police, Donald MacGillivray, Nigg, James Strathearn, Bathgate, P/M JB Robertson, Scots Guards, John Johnston, Glasgow Police, Donald MacLean, Glasgow, Donald MacPherson, Clydebank, John Burgess, Edinburgh, Stewart Salmond, Dundee and Ronald McCallum, Strachur, Argyll. There were only five entries for the juniors.
The winner of the competition, but not the Clasp, was Donald MacPherson. Donald did not win the Inverness Gold Medal until 1954 (Lament for the Children), though he had the Oban medal in 1948 with Old Men of the Shells. We do not have the complete list of 1950 winners at Inverness though the winner of the Inverness Medal in 1950 was John D Burgess (Castle Menzies), then only 16. The picture top shows Donald MacPherson having a cup of tea with his father in 1953 after he won the Clasp that year. Presumably Inverness must have rescinded the Inverness Medal only rule by then.

If any reader has information on the format of the Northern Meeting in those days and also the prize lists from 1950 please send them on to the PP office.

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