More Historic Piping Pictures As Never Seen Before

Today we have the penultimate batch of piping photographs from desktop wizard Ronan Maguire of St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band, Dublin. Ronan has generously given his time and expertise to clean, enhance and and/or colour a whole host of historic piping pictures. More than that he has kindly made them available to PP readers as free downloads.

The first picture today is from the Argyllshire Gathering, Oban, in 1970. Ronan undertook the work after a request from Breton piper Patrick Molard. Patrick can be seen in the far left background talking to Jimmy McIntosh, recently deceased.

Hard to believe that this shot is from half a century ago! The pipers are pictured outside the Corran Halls where the Gold Medal competition was taking place. They are (l -r): Dr Jack Taylor, P/M Iain Morrison, Ed Neigh, Angus John MacLellan, P/M Jimmy Banks, John Wilson, Arthur Gillies, John Graham (?), Hugh MacCallum, Dr William Wotherspoon, P/M Bert Barron, ?, Kenneth MacLean. If anyone can confirm the omissions we’d be grateful.

Here is how the picture looked originally:

Of this photograph Ronan says: ‘I’d say it’s about 60 to 70%. The original is from a newspaper and that makes it very difficult to work with. I wouldn’t be 100% happy with it myself, but it would take a lot more work and time to get it to my liking. Some very famous faces in there though and it’s a great pic.’ Download the colour version here:

Next we have the famous family of bagpipemakers, Duncan, John and Gavin Macdougall, cleaned and enhanced: 

The MacDougalls, of Aberfeldy and Perth, were famous for the steadiness of their instruments, rivalled only by Lawrie and Henderson. Their quiet hum (though not all instrumnents displayed this quality) has faded from popularity with the advent of fuller sounding instrumnents which are just as steady. No matter; MacDougall, Aberfeldy pipes are still a prized possession a hundred years or so after the gentlemen above stood at the lathe.

A very nice image now of John MacFadyen, champion piper, renowned teacher, compiler of two excellent collections of ceòl beag and, with P/M Donald MacLeod, successful partner in Grainger and Campbell pipe makers. John was also a skilled administrator with high powered positions in the Piobaireachd Society, College of Piping and the Scottish Pipers’ Association.

We are sure John’s many students will be keen to download this shot:

Our next subject is P/M John Balloch, born 1860. He was the composer of two celebrated marches, the 25th KOSB Farwell to Meirut and Auchmountain’s Bonny Glen, the latter connected with his home in Greenock. On the outbreak of WW1, when aged 54, he had the distinction of enlisting in the army with his son Donald. The book ‘The Piper in Peace and War’ by CA Malcolm has this on him:

Balloch, John – ….joined the army in 1878 as a piper in the 57th Brigade, which comprised the 42nd and 79th Highlanders, and played his pipes with the leading company of the 79th in the battle of Tel-el-Kebir during the famous charge, and right through the Egyptian Campaign, 1881-84, was conspicuous as a piper. Was transferred as pipe-major to the1st Battn. K.O.S.B. in 1886, and led the pipers of that battalion on the expedition to Upper Burmah. Retired 1899, and became pipe-major to the 5th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Greenock).

In 1914 rejoined his old regiment and was posted Pipe-Major 8th Battn. K.O.S.B., with which he served in France from July 1915-18, when he was invalided home. Even then he was not allowed to be lost to the army, for the 9th Officers’ Cadet Battalion of Gailes appropriated the services of the distinguished pipe-major. In addition to his “25th K.O.S.B.’s Farewell to Meerut,” Balloch has to his credit a marching tune entitled “Auchmountain’s Bonnie Glen,” and a melody for Retreat which he has named “Sunset in Flanders.” Does anyone have a copy of the latter tune?

Our final selection of photographs to follow.

6 thoughts on “More Historic Piping Pictures As Never Seen Before

  1. Pipe Major John Balloch was my great-grandfather. He died in 1947 before I was born. I did, of course, know his son Donald Balloch who was my grandfather on my mother’s side of the family. And spent many summer holidays at Greenock; I lived in Northumberland at the time. John Balloch has a number of pipe tunes accredited to him: Castle Wemyss, King George V’s Visit to the Battlefield (I think that’s correct). There are others which I have on file somewhere! Will keep you advised if found. Stuart Herron

  2. I think the piper between Bert Barron and Kenny Maclean in the Oban 1970 picture could be an American called Kit Jansen who was across at the time.

    1. I agree Jack. Kit Jensen studied with Jimmy for some years. I believe Kit’s photo also appears in a group of pipers included in Jimmy’s Piobaireachd book.

  3. Hi Robert,

    This is just a wee correction about the naming of the famous 2/4 march. John Balloch wrote Auchmountain’s Bonnie Glen about a part of the countryside above the east end of Greenock – not Falkirk.. He lived in Greenock at the time. I knew Donald Balloch, when I was young and he was elderly! He was a piper too. Amongst other things, Donald was Hon. Piper to the Greenock Burns Club (The Mother Club).

    Auchmountain Glen was a popular place for recreation during the depression in the 1920s and 30s. Young men of the area developed woodland gardens and had sculptures, water features and even a club house. Sadly, a victim of vandalism and neglect in the post war years, there is practically no sign of its former glory. A project started before the lockdown where local enthusiasts were working at its restoration, at least in part. News of their successes may be seen here



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