Editor’s Notebook: ‘Missing’ Majors/ Irish in Spain/ Split Stock / Wiltshire Piper/ Edinburgh Police Solos

Thanks to the many readers who have contributed to the debate on the RSPBA’s ‘missing Majors’. I agree with much of what has been said, in particular that the Association need to be pro-active in encouraging Cowal and the All Ireland promoters to help out. They may already have been in touch, I don’t know.

With only the Worlds and the Scottish secure for next summer, we should not be content with merely matching this year’s four championships. Let the fifth go again and it could quickly become the norm.

I believe the allocation of ‘major’ status to specific grades at minor competitions a practical solution. Spread these throughout the season and the towns to avoid overwhelming them.

Allowing outsiders to come in with their own funding and plans is another. The Association gives the franchise to an outside group. The Association provides the judges and stewarding and nothing else.

There are people out there with the knowledge, money and wherewithal who would be prepared to step in – but only if there was a limited RSPBA input as described.

Lastly, here’s another idea: hire a major hall, Glasgow’s SECC for example, and have a Grade 1 & 2 British, or other championship, indoors. No parking, no band buses, very little stewarding, huge crowds. Set the ticket price to cover the hire fees, judges expenses and prizemoney.

This is real thinking outside of the box as suggested. I am not alone in believing that the long-term future of the RSPBA is at stake here.


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Irish in Spain

Patricia Bravo, director of the Cáceres Irish Fleadh International Festival in Spain: ‘This is our 20th edition and we are making a historical Irish compilation related to music in our city. We know that in 1937 from February to June a band of Irish pipers came to our city with the name of St. Mary’s Pipers Band. 

‘We are having a hard time finding any great-grandchildren or relatives of any of its members or any information or photographs to know more about the stories of its members and the band. Could you help us if you have any information? Thank you so much! Patricia Bravo García www.irishfleadh.com.’


New Split Stock

McCallum Bagpipes have sent this: A McCallum split-stock incorporating the patented PitchGuard™ is a fully mechanical, multi-faceted system that cocoons your chanter reed and offers both tonal stability and physical protection.

The split-stock protects the chanter reed and allows for easy installation in any pipe bag. Once your chanter reed is set inside the stock it need not be removed for days or even weeks, saving you money and eliminating the need for a reed protector and/or external chanter cap.

The PitchGuard™ unit is not just a chanter on/off switch; it will also prevent overblowing of the chanter reed by regulating air pressure.

Best of all it is fully mechanical: no charging up, no plugging in, no trying to find a signal. It works everywhere and in all weather conditions. Install it once and your PitchGuard™ Split-Stock System will be there for your entire bagpipe journey.


Wiltshire Piper

Reader Francis Chamberlain: ‘I visited my old Spanish nurse in Chippenham. She showed me the attached photograph taken in the Old Bell Hotel in my home town of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, in about 1963. I don’t suppose by any chance you know who the piper might be? 

Sorry, can’t help Francis. Anyone else?


Edinburgh Police Solos

During the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s the force ran a very successful professional competition, held, like the Eagle Pipers’ events, in the Royal Arch Halls, Queen Street. Here are the winners for 22nd March, 1969:

Piobaireachd: 1 John MacDougall 2 John Garroway 3 Hector MacFadyen 4 Dugald Ferguson 5 Iain MacFadyen
March: 1 Iain Morrison 2 Hugh MacCallum 3 Ian McLellan 4 John MacDougall
S&R: 1 Iain Morrison 2 Hugh MacCallum 3 Ian McLellan 4 John Slattery
Jig: 1 Ian McLellan 2 John MacDougall 3 Dugald Ferguson 4 Hugh MacCallum

Others listed as competitors were Willie McBride, Margaret Ireland, Ronald Morrison, Andrew Wright, Jimmy McIntosh, Davy Hutton, Norrie Gillies, Colin Drummond, Willie Dickson, Tony Crease, George Granger, Angus John MacLellan, Iain C Cameron, Robert Stewart, Ronnie Lawrie, Archie Pinkman, Willie M MacDonald, and Kenneth MacLean.


4 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: ‘Missing’ Majors/ Irish in Spain/ Split Stock / Wiltshire Piper/ Edinburgh Police Solos

  1. I think the Cowal and All Ireland idea is a non starter, the pipe band scene is getting smaller whether we like it or not, and it will have to down size to make itself viable. 5 majors is gone for good. I do agree that indoor majors will have to come into the thinking, where you charge an admission that covers all your costs. Free entry into outdoor contests is a lovely idea, but financially, completely nonsensical. We will have to get used to paying our way, spectators and players. No hobby comes free of charge. What we do is a hobby, no more, no less

  2. With regard to the Irish pipe band in Spain. The band in question was St Marys pipe band from the north inner city of Dublin. St Marys parish is centered on St Marys Pro Cathedral which is very close to the citys main thoroughfare O Connell Street. At the time of the Spanish civil war controversial Irish politician Eoin O”Duffy raised a brigade of men to fight on General Francos side in the civil war. St Marys pb were invited to accompany this brigade and became known as St Marys Anti Communist pipe band. What became of the band or who the personnel involved were unfortunately I have no idea.

  3. I fully agree with what you have said. The executive committee of the RSPBA is under severe pressure and the top people cannot dig themselves out of it. There is only so long that excuses will be tolerated by the members? I hope someone at the top can resolve or pass the baton on.

  4. One of the reasons that the RSPBA removed championship status from Cowal was the RSPBA’s unilateral and autocratic decision to be able to award the Champion of Champions awards at the Worlds in mid-August. They should abandon this ridiculous policy forthwith which would allow greater flexibility in future planning for all competitions.

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