Editor’s Notebook: Worlds Tickets/ ‘Wee’ Donald MacLean/ Atholl Gathering

A few comments on yesterday’s story about ticket prices for the Worlds. This from Donald McRae: ‘The price of tickets for children (under 16) is depressing, the price for a Saturday ticket being £17 or only £5.50 less than that for an adult.

‘I would expect such a ticket to be lower, possibly around 50% of the adult price. Should Glasgow Life not be encouraging youngsters to engage with the arts?

‘Secondly, when I went to checkout I was faced with the booking fee, something that always annoys me given that you print or put the tickets on your phone, there is very little human interface cost. What is more frustrating is the £3 levy that is added to the cost of each ticket.’

Points well made Donald. Does anyone have the prices from last year so that we can compare? I worry that the Worlds is pricing itself out of popular participation. Admission to Glasgow Green should be free or at least no more than a nominal fee, say £5. Thirty thousand through the gates nets £150,000. Not a bad return.

The Green is a public space. It belongs to the people of the city not Glasgow Life. There are enough charges still to be met by visitors: food, drinks, Grade 1 arena, transport, parking. Given bad weather, too many will opt to stay away and watch proceedings on television.

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Donald MacLean

I have been looking through some correspondence I had many years ago from Malcolm McLaren a pipe maker originally based in Hobart, Tasmania. He was friendly with ‘wee’ Donald MacLean, the Gold medallist and he of the popular ‘Farewell to Oban’ 2/4.

Malcolm writes: ‘I first met Donald in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1963. He and his family were sponsored to emigrate by the Derwent Scottish Pipe Band and Donald worked as a porter at Hobart railway station. I used to go to his house in Cavell Street for a lesson on a Saturday morning. It was approximately one hour and I paid two shillings [about 10p] and got a cup of tea and a biscuit. I lost touch with Donald and his family and I believe he moved to Brisbane, and after that back to the UK.

‘In 1981 whilst on holiday we went to the Braemar Gathering. The following day we went to a Highland dancing display on the village green in Ballater and it was here that I spoke to the piper David Low. I asked if he knew ‘wee’ Donald. He told me that he was one of the few people who knew of his whereabouts. Donald was living in Beauly. I went there the next day and knocked on the door. Donald was surprised to see us and talked of his time in Tasmania and got out his pipes to play for the girls to dance [see picture]. From then on we corresponded.’

One of the letters is from Donald’s widow Jean and tells of his death in 1986: ‘It is with great sadness that I write to tell you of Donald’s death peacefully at home on November 12th. He was buried in Tomnahurich Cemetery on Friday the 14th.’

In another letter a year later Jean relates: ‘The tune Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban was written specially for Donald following his performance at Oban Games when the spectators expected him to win but, unjustly, he did not. It was so memorable [a performance] that Seumas MacNeill’s uncle, blind Archie MacNeill, said ‘That will be Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban’, and went away and composed the tune. It is a fine musical tune.’

The letter goes on to talk of her daughter Sally, a flautist. ‘Her flute was made by a former pupil of Donald’s when he was in London, Leslie Cowell (Naill & Co.). He makes James Galway’s flutes. He and his wife saw us off at Waterloo Station for Australia. He is a fine craftsman.’

Atholl Gathering

There is a huge entry for Atholl Gathering at Blair Atholl on Sunday (May 26). Piping Convenor Jack Taylor writes: ‘It will be a busy day and I’d remind competitors and judges that we will start all events at 9.30am. Any changes should be notified to the Chief Steward Alistair Duthie on 07908 030188.’

2019 Atholl Gathering Champion, Ben Duncan

Playing order for P/A Piob.: Calum Brown, Ben Duncan, Angus MacPhee, Sarah Muir, Darach Urquhart, Eireann Ianetta-MacKay, Jamie Forrester, Cameron May, Sandy Cameron, Steven Leask, Greig Canning, John Mulhearn.

B Piob. playing order: Michael Fitzhenry, Scott Armstrong, Callum Wynd, Bradley Parker, Andrew Smith, Ben Mulhearn, Bobby Allen, Andrew Hall, Dan Nevans, Keith Bowes, Campbell Wilson, Edward Gaul, Alistair Brown, Christopher McLeish, Luke Kennedy, Fraser Allison, James McPetrie, Andrew Ferguson, John Dew, Gordon Barclay, Kris Coyle, John MacDonald, Gregor Macdonald, Finlay Frame, Brodie Watson-Massey, Cameron MacLeod.

C Piob. playing order: Scott McCaskill, Catriona Norman, Cameron O’Neill, Christopher Ross, Craig Muirhead, Scott Wallace, Walter Glendinning, Melissa Jeffrey, Lewis Maxwell, Hamish Munro, Karen McCrindle-Warren, Josh Esson, Andrew Yu, Hector Munro, Rory Robson, Jeffrey Lawson, Ben Hall, Scott McKay, Daniel Johnstone, Stewart Dickson, John McElmurry, Calum Dunbar.

Light Music Heats Order of Play. Heats 1&2:

Heats 3&4

Junior Draws:

Judges on duty are: R Barnes, R Clark, I Duncan, D Fraser, M Henderson, P Henderson, P Hunt, R MacShannon, N Matheson, W Morrison, L Tannock, R Wallace.


4 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Worlds Tickets/ ‘Wee’ Donald MacLean/ Atholl Gathering

  1. Glasgow Life are ripping off all who attend the Worlds. Family of four circa £85 plus travel, food etc. Very expensive day out.
    This is an SNP led Glasgow council who seem hell bent on bringing another great event to a close. I will not be back and will watch on the BBC for free.

  2. The profits raised (and thus kept) by Glasgow Life from the running of the Worlds would more than off-set the losses accrued at the other 4 major championships. If only this money remained within the pipe band world. Perhaps there should be a responsible and competent body charged with maintaining the sustainability of pipe band events? Some food for your journalistic thought…

  3. The price for children in particular is ridiculous. An expensive day out for a family – or too expensive for many families to attend. I believe it should be ’kids go free’ when accompanied by an adult. That’s what they do at the Open Golf Championship.

  4. I fully agree with the comments on ticket pricing. With Grade 1 being live streamed, and a likely follow-up BBC Scotland TV programme, high ticket prices will only serve to discourage attendance on Friday and Saturday.
    Last year, I bought my ticket at the GRCH box office and it was still subject to the £3 levy (surcharge), as are all purchases. To advertise the ticket price as £22.50 (this years price) when it is actually £25.50 is highly misleading and potentially could be against consumer/trading regulations

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