PP Ed’s Blog: Gold Medallists/ Skye Gathering/ G1 Review/ Donald’s Pipes/ Lorient

Hamish McLennan from Aberdeen has been in touch: ‘Robert, While scanning an old scrapbook for other information I have harvested the following from contemporary Oban Times newspaper cuttings. Northern Meeting Gold Medalists: 1903 Donald MacKay – Glengarry’s Lament, 1906 George Allan – Corrienessan’s Salute, 1909 William MacKie – Lament for the Harp Tree.’

Page has been duly updated Hamish and many thanks for this important contribution. The lists make great reading and we are slowly filling in the gaps. Naturally there are more pre-WW2 than I would like but we are getting there. Can readers help us out here? John MacColl 1888? JB Robertson 1933? Angus MacPherson, Invershin, 1923? Willie Gray 1919? George Yardley 1911? These are some stick out discrepancies. I am sure the information is out there somewhere.

Glengarry’s Lament and Corrienessan would not be set for the GM these days – but nor would the gigantic Lament for the Harp Tree. The first two are more likely to appear in Silver Medal lists and the Harp Tree is definitely one for the seniors.

I wonder whose names will be added to the GM lists this year? It all depends on preparation, ability, luck with the tune, the bench – and the draw. The coveted medals, presented each year by the Highland Society of London, are pictured above. Only three weeks till Oban and four to Inverness. What with the Worlds, August is some month for piping history isn’t it?

Last year’s winner of the Dunvegan Medal, Ian K MacDonald, Ontario

I hope the decision to take the Silver Chanter away from Skye is not having an adverse effect on next week’s competitions at Portree. One of the reasons for instituting ‘the Chanter’ back in 1967 was to give a boost to the Gathering. 2018 and Convenor Cameron MacFadyen reports a mere three entries for the prestigious Col Jock MacDonald Clasp for former winners of the Dunvegan Medal.

The winner of the latter plays in the Clasp in the evening, making it only four in the Skye Gathering’s senior event. Such a shame. Hopefully there will have been a few more names added since I last spoke to Cameron a week or so ago. If you’re qualified please think about making the journey north. Entries are still open, first prize is £200 and there are also the Kemble Star for Marches, the Peter MacFarquhar Star for Strathspey and Reel and the Hornpipe and Jig to play for – and an overall prize.

More positively Cameron reports 36 entries for the Medal but this has had to be limited to 25 with a waiting list in operation. Pipers from North America, Australia and Germany included. Cameron says: ‘The Dunvegan Medal is contested in the historic Skye Gathering Hall, Portree, where the country’s premier pipers have trod the boards for nigh on 150 years. The hall is located adjacent to the old jail but I’m sure there’s no connection!’ Skye Gathering runs August 7/8th and there is also an open Under 18 Piobaireachd and MSR on Tuesday 7th. There’s still time to get your name down. Email Cameron on cameron.macfadyen@btinternet.com.

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We had a huge readership for our review of Grade 1 at the Scottish Championships last Saturday. PP is the only place you can read such informed critiques so their popularity should be no surprise. Stay tuned for comment on Grade 2 and on the Juvenile contests at Dumbarton and if anyone would like to contribute please feel free to do so. We’ll be giving similar coverage to the Worlds on Aug 17 and 18.

Re the Donald MacPherson bagpipe, I have heard a suggestion that a piping contest could be held with part of the prize being a tune on the great man’s pipes. Hygiene issues make this pretty much a non-starter I fear, though it would be great to have them played in public again. I read with some surprise that the owner had also purchased another set of prime Lawrie’s ‘for comparison’ with Donald’s instrument.

I say again: vintage bagpipes should be played by good players and if you are of a certain age and lucky enough to own such an instrument it is time for some succession planning. Or if you are a collector such as the chap in Australia then make some provision to keep the pipe in circulation.

Lisnamulligan pictured at the 2018 UK Pipe Band Championships at Stormont

John Kelly reports from the wilds of Brittany: ‘Lisnamulligan Pipe Band from Rathfriland on the Hill are in Lorient in France on Thursday 2nd to Sunday 12th August to take part in the Festival Interceltique de Lorient. The band will treat the festival audiences to a selection of well-known Irish tunes including, ‘Star of the County Down’, ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’, ‘Galway Girl’, ‘Black Velvet Band’ and ‘Wild Rover’.

A spokesperson for the band said, ‘This is a brilliant trip, an experience of a lifetime; we would like to say a big thank you to Tom McAvoy from Milestone, Rathfriland, for his sponsorship. It is great to have a local business supporting us.’

IPBA Chairman Brian MacMahon

The New Ross and District Pipe Band (Eire) will also take part in the prestigious event. Sharing the same chartered flight, the two bands will leave Dublin tomorrow. The trip is organised by New Ross member Brian MacMahon, Chairman of the Irish Pipe Band Association.

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