PP Ed’s Blog: Blair Atholl/ Big Wedding/ Fintan Lalor/ Innes Smith/ Teacher Hunt

Very healthy entries for the Blair Atholl piping a week on Sunday (May 27) – at least in the seniors. Over 40 signed up across all grades. Unfortunately there are only a few forward for the under 18s and the organisers are keen to encourage as many youngsters as possible to get involved. 

So if you are a junior and feel like a tune at what is effectively the first event of the outdoor season why not put your name down for this well-run gathering? There are competitions for piobaireachd, MSR and jig. Email the secretary here.

I hope these healthy numbers in the seniors at Blair augur well for the lesser Highland games this season where pipers simply turn up and have a tune. In the recent past many of them have been really struggling for numbers with single figures becoming the norm. I worry that local organisers, all volunteers, will ‘do a Crieff’ and cease holding solo piping contests altogether relying on a duty pipe band and the dance piper for atmosphere.

We all have a responsibility here so if you’re playing at the graded games at Blair, Inveraray etc make sure you get out to some of the smaller events too. They can be a lot of fun and very enjoyable, believe me….and thanks to the Competing Pipers Association they could soon become more relevant in the grading stakes.

President Glenn Brown is a forward thinking, independent minded chap – as well as being one of our best pipers. No one is working Glenn from behind and I believe he sees the problem I outline above. The last time I spoke to him he was considering instituting an email hotline whereby judges could send in their thoughts on the playing at any given contest, thoughts that could be used in helping to establish more accurate gradings for pipers.

If I heard him correctly it would mean that a good tune at, say, Lochearnhead could be added to the credits a piper gained at any graded event, provided of course that the judge was sufficiently impressed to send comments on. This would help the small games immensely and I hope Glenn sees his idea come to fruition and that his association will back him on it.



John Solan from Dublin writes: ‘Dear Mr Wallace, My grandfather,  John Solan was in the Fintan Lalor pipe band of Dublin in the 50s and early 60s [pictured top].  His brother, Pat was a pipe major with the band.   Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away days after I was born in 1973. My father, his son, also passed away 10 years ago. I recently purchased a copy of the record: Irish Bagpipes: The Fintan Lalor Pipe Band of Dublin. 

The LP cover

‘There are many pipers pictured on the front of the album. I was wondering if you know anyone who could identify the guys? I have attached a picture for your reference. Thank you for any help you can provide. Sincerely, Jeff Solan.’

Common readers, thinking caps on. Let’s help John out here. Email here and we’ll pass on.


Darach and Helen announce their engagement at the Fairy Pools on Skye

Big weddings are in the air, and aside from that small to do at Windsor on Saturday, piping’s ‘Wedding of the Year’ takes place at Glasgow Cathedral on June 2 when Darach Urquhart marries his sweetheart Helen Wilkinson. Helen is well known to pipers through her work at the Piping Centre and as Secretary of the CPA – and who doesn’t know Darach? We wish this perfect couple the very best of luck and all happiness.

This wedding thing seems to be catching and I hear that another top piper, Callum Beaumont, has just announced his engagement. Congratulations to Callum and his fiancée.


Innes Smith with the prestigious John MacLellan Memorial Medal

I hear that Gold Medal contender  Innes Smith is currently in Australia completing his medical studies. I hope Innes makes it back in time for the main solo competing season and the big events at Skye, Oban and Inverness.


Edinburgh’s Dean Park Primary School Parent Teacher Association wish to engage a piping and a snare drumming tutor on a self-employed basis from August 2018. The instructors will deliver lessons during the school day at Dean Park Primary School and at Balerno High School and develop a Balerno and District Schools Pipe Band. Full details available from Lisa Benn, Balerno & District Schools Pipe Band Co-ordinator: balernoschoolspipeband@gmail.com / 07976 515 749


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