Unidentified Pipers from Skye and Information on Peter MacFarquhar, Piper and Composer

Cailean Maclean, former Piping Convenor at Skye Games: ‘A gentleman from South Uist sent me the attached photos. According to the captions they were from Skye. I have no idea who they are and would be grateful for any information about them.’

All of the photographs are studio staged, two outdoors and one in, and clearly two of the pipers were very successful competitors. The other, bottom left, has the stance and finger position of a well taught player. It looks as though the pictures were taken between the Wars or perhaps pre-1914.

None has any caption but the one above is marked ‘Nicolson, Skye’, the picture below left ‘Carmichael, Skye’ and the other ‘Robertson, Skye’.

If anyone has any information or would like to offer some informed speculation please email the Editor here.


Peter MacFarquhar

Reader Lawrence Macduff: ‘At a recent concert I was buying a CD and immediately saw the name of Peter MacFarquhar as composer of the tune Kenny Gillies, Portnalong. I recognised Peter’s name instantly.

‘I’m sure that pipers will in many cases not have much detail about the composers of at least some of the music they perform and I thought you might like some background just for historic interest.

‘So far as I know  Peter was not a prolific composer. As I recall, he was born in Tiree but brought up in Skye.

‘In 1967, I was a young teller working in a bank at Paisley Road Toll in Glasgow when I first met Peter as one of my customers. We got talking as I loved visiting Skye.

‘He was usually in uniform when he came in – he was skipper of White Horse Distillers’ small motor coaster ‘Pibroch’ which conveyed whisky barrels from Islay to Glasgow.


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‘An exceptionally nice man, I was invited to the family home in Giffnock where I first met his wife Jean.  Peter retired not long after this when he and Jean relocated to Skye. I visited them in their new home in Kensalyre where Jean had taken up tenancy of the Post Office business. Portnalong, near Carbost, is not far away.

‘Sadly, Peter passed away not long after their return to Skye, on 22 April 1979, age 65. Jean continued to run the PO for at least 20 more years and I continued to visit till she retired.

‘She decided to head south to stay close to her sister in Glenluce, Wigtownshire, who was also on her own, and I was able to pop in now and again to see them. I think Jean passed away around 2009 and I have no longer any contact with the family.

‘Peter and Jean had no children; he was widowed quite early on in his first marriage, and had remarried before I knew them.

‘Regrettably, I’ve no information on how Peter came to compose Kenny Gillies, nor know of any other work he may have written, but I hope the foregoing is of interest to you.’


The Bagpiper’s Handbook…a must have for all pipers

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2 thoughts on “Unidentified Pipers from Skye and Information on Peter MacFarquhar, Piper and Composer

  1. I’ve always wondered what the point is in wearing all your medals on your jacket like a chainmail .
    Firstly it’s really ugly and secondly it can be annoying.

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