Category Archives: Blog

Tobermory Games Results

A beautiful day at the friendly games, writes the Editor. The sun shone, the hospitality flowed and the real West Highland character was there in all its glory. There was good piping too.  Not a great entry, but the playing was enjoyable nevertheless. Champion Piper: Angus D MacColl. The above picture shows the judges with Piping Convenor Torquil Telfer relaxing after their day on the bench.

The Mish may be dead but the legacy of Bobby MacLeod lives on through his son and grandson. At the close of play a rejuvenated Bobby Jnr gave us a wide selection of pipe tunes on his button box. The Tobermory Hotel now does what the Mishnish used to.

The piping results:

1 Angus D MacColl, Unjust Incarceration, £100
2 Ed McIllwaine, British Columbia, The Vaunting, £65
3 Angus J MacColl, End of the Great Bridge, £40
4 Alistair Murray, N Ireland and Pittsburgh, Big Spree, £25
5 Ronald Telfer, Lament for Mary MacLeod, £10

Runner-up overall, Angus J MacColl

1 Angus D MacColl, Arthur Bignold, £65
2 Angus J MacColl, £40
3 Ronald Telfer, £25
4 Ed McIllwaine, £15
5 Alistair Murray, £5

Alistair Murray had a tune of two halves in the ceol mor

1 Angus D MacColl, £65
2 Angus J MacColl, £40
3 Alistair Murray, £25
4 Alastair MacLean, £15
5 Harry Walters, £5

Piob (sponsored by Archie and Janet MacDonald)
1 Angus D MacColl, £25
2 Angus J MacColl, £15
3 Ronald Telfer, £10
4 Alastair MacLean, £5

1 Angus D MacColl, £25
2 Angus J MacColl, £15
3 Ronald Telfer, £10
4 Alastair MacLean, £5

1 Angus D MacColl, £25
2 Angus J MacColl, £15
3 Alastair Maclean, £10
4 Ronald Telfer, £5

Piob judges: A Maclean, R Wallace
Ceol beag judges: B Donaldson, I Duncan

Harry Watters, Canberra, Australia, has real potential as a piobaireachd player but chokes and note errors ruled him out of contention

In the ceol mor Angus D MacColl was the clear winner with the Unjust Incarceration. Maybe the low A was not exactly spotted with the drones but the masterly phrasing and technique shone through. Ed McIllwaine had a flattish pipe but consummate phrasing and technique in his performance. Angus J was rather square but deserved his prize. Alastair Murray had a tune of two halves. He started superbly well but half way through lost the plot and was hanging on in the T&C. Fifth went to Ronald Telfer with the best tune we had heard from him. A better crunluath and he could have been considered for a better prize.

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Bands: Grade 2 Mid Season Update and Look Ahead/ Co. Antrim Champs.

Our Special Correspondent has been covering our important Grade 2 contests all season. His reporting and comment has been very well received by the bandsmen and women in this grade and he has highlighted some of the excellent playing you can hear in this grade. Today he takes stock of their season so far….

With a number of Grade 2 overseas bands slated to play at Glasgow Green in August (see the draw of Grade 2 and other bands attending here), we have been monitoring the events where those who are in the two Grade 2 qualifiers are limbering up.

Two weekends ago the City of Kincardine, Ontario (sitting in the edge of picturesque Lake Huron), hosted a decent sized contest. One of our contacts was there watching the 78th Frasers take Grade 1, and Greater Midwest (GM) win Grade 2 ahead of 400 Tactical Helicopter and Midlothian Scottish (USA). Sadly, GM, led by reed maker, Pipe Major Adrian Melvin, will not be in Glasgow this year, having made the trip in 2016. Adrian had a great send off from his band with that win. The Midlothian Scottish will be in Heat 1 of the Grade 2 contest in Glasgow.

Midlothian Scottish from Illinois are playing at the Worlds

At Glasgowlands, Mass., USA, this past weekend, New York Metro, another band heading to the Green, won Grade 2 ahead of Macmillan and Worcester Kiltie. The latter having won Grade 3 at the Green last summer. All three will be in what looks to be the tougher Heat 2 qualifier for the Worlds. They will also have the Houston based, St. Thomas Alumni in their heat, along with the College of Piping from Summerside, Canada, and indigenous names, City of Discovery and Glasgow Skye, both of which have already featured in the prize lists for majors this season.

In the Worlds Grade 2, Heat 1, the other overseas names, beyond Midlothian Scottish mentioned earlier, are the well-regarded Pipe Band Club and St Andrews, both of Australia, North Stratton from Canada and a welcome return after absence in Scotland to the P/M Iain Donaldson led, City of Dunedin, Florida. They will have high fliers Lomond & Clyde, ‘steady Eddie’ MacCals, refreshed Manorcunningham and the mighty Vikings of Balagan to deal with in their heat.

In addition to these developments in North America, Manorcunningham from Eire, the recent winners of the All-Ireland Grade 2, had a successful run out this past weekend, prior to them missing the Scottish Championship, as intimated in these pages.

Manorcunningham…not playing at Dumbarton

As a quick look forward, there are 18 Grade 2 entries for North Berwick on August 5th, which includes a couple of top Juvenile bands and Grade 3’s playing up. As an aside, Grade 1 Medley has 11 bands listed, nine of which are Grade 1. Lomond & Clyde and The Pipe Band Club (Australia) play up from Grade 2.

With the Scottish Championship at Dumbarton only a couple of weeks away (see draw here), we will have a preview of this penultimate Major in the week leading up to it. Sixteen bands are listed, but we know 15 maximum will play. No Mannorcunningham, or Balagan to be in the mix and both have featured previously. We expect a head to head between Lomond & Clyde and Glasgow Skye again, with the MacCals pursued by City of Discovery and Closkelt.

Finally, the draw for the Bridge of Allan contest on August 6th will not be out for some time, however, we expect there to be a good turnout there too.

In the meantime, enjoy whatever is occupying your summer and look forward to the run in to what promises to be an exceptional Grade 2 World Championship in less than a month. Over and out.

County Antrim PIpe Band Championships

By Gilbert Cromie; pix by John Kelly

Gilbert Cromie reports…Saturday last saw the County Antrim Pipe Band Championships takes place at the picturesque Glenarm Castle which has been the venue for this contest for several years. Sadly the timing of the contest is all wrong falling as it does a matter of days after the Twelfth and right bang in the middle of the holiday season, hence the poor turnout as shown in the massed bands photograph top.

The contest takes place as part of the Dalriada Festival which is a superb event in its own right and on the day there was an abundance of entertainment and activities to be enjoyed by competitors and their families. It is unfortunate that since the contest moved to this earlier date the original entry numbers have declined as the event nears and this was the case on Saturday. The well-attended Dalriada Festival provides the RSPBA NI Branch with a wonderful opportunity to showcase its product but the impact would be so much better if each grade had at least half a dozen bands competing.

Freddie Carlisle, Ben McKeown and Pipe Major John Fittis pictured after receiving the prizes best bass, best drums and M&D at the County Antrim Pipe Band Championships

The County Antrim Section who organise this contest must be disappointed that only eleven bands out of the original twenty odd turned out leaving some grades with single entries. The weather was not the best either however those bands that did turn out, and congratulations to them for doing so, provided the big crowd with a good afternoon’s entertainment. The biggest entry was in Grade 4B which saw Gransha win ahead of Kildoag on ensemble preference.

Pipe Major Darren Frew (McNeillstown Pipe Band) pictured receiving the Grade 4A first place trophy

It was good to see the Dr. Wright Memorial from Newtownards return to competition after an absence of four years, McNeillstown had it all to themselves in Grade 4A and also caused a bit of an upset by taking Grade 3B. Drumlough continued their local winning sequence beating off the challenge of Matt Boyd Memorial and the junior band of the Major Sinclair Memorial. Manorcunningham had a stellar day winning both the Grade 1 and 2 competitions. The drum majors turned out in good numbers with Alicia Dickson Hamilton breaking Jason Price’s recent winning sequence. Emma Barr continued to dominate the Juvenile section with Jaime Cupples and Leanne Crooks taking the honours in the Junior and Novice respectively. Full results from the Antrim Championships here.

William Black (Mannorcunningham Pipe Band) pictured receiving the Grade 2 first place trophy

Don’t forget that next Saturday 22nd July sees the Ulster Pipe Band Championships return to the scenic grounds of Antrim Castle Gardens. There is an entry of 45 bands and 48 drum majors. Those who attend the contests in motor homes should note that no overnight parking will be allowed in the Antrim Castle Gardens however parking is available at the nearby Lough Shore Caravan Park [Tel.02894464963] which is a leisurely 10 minute walk away.

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Inverness Games Results

Damp day at the capital of the Highlands. Picture above shows trophy wining pipers suitable attired. Overall Champion was Sandy Cameron.

1 Sandy Cameron
2 Peter McCalister
3 Les Hutt
4 Archie Drennan
5 Gordon Barclay

1 Charles MacDonald
2 Cameron MacDougall
3 Sandy Cameron
4 Gary McKay
5 Archie Drennan

1 Cameron MacDougall
2 Sandy Cameron
3 Archie Drennan
4 Peter McCalister
5 James MacPhee

Junior U-18 Piob
1 Finlay Cameron
2 Hamish Drennan
3 James MacRae
4 Andrew Laird
5 Angus MacPhee

Junior U-18 MSR
1 Finlay Cameron
2 Angus MacPhee
3 Kyle Cameron
4 Callum Clark
5 Hamish Brennan


PP Editor’s Blog: Big Games Weekend/ Trust Job/ Wallace Website/ Mgt. Bennett/ All-Irelands

Big weekend of games ahead. Some say it is the start of the games season proper (it is the Glasgow Fair holiday period) though there have been plenty of good contests running since the end of May. Tomorrow we have piping at Balloch, Inverness and Tomintoul and on Sunday at Roseneath. Check here for results as we get them.

Next week we have Inveraray on Tuesday, South Uist on Wednesday, Tobermory and the Benbecula Young Piper on Thursday, North Uist on Friday 21st, and on Saturday July 22nd Lochearnhead, Taynuilt and Airth. A busy time for pipers and I hope as many as possible will get out for a tune. The games are an important nurturing ground and we have seen a decline in attendance in recent years at some of them. I would urge pipers to support the smaller games in particular.

A good tune/ performance here is just as important as at any of the graded events, sometimes more so when you consider that at Inveraray the tunes are given out a week beforehand. What kind of test is that? Results from there may be judged accordingly. Contrast that with Braemar where it’s eight tunes given one before or sometimes at the judges’ table.

Pipers worry that even if they win at the wee games, the CPA’s Grading Committee pay their success no heed. Well, why not record your playing on your phone in your sporran and send it to the grading committee if and when required to bolster your case?

The weather forecast for this weekend is not too promising but high pressure is predicted to build across Scotland into next week so sunny skies – maybe.

I forgot to include this photograph from my trip to St Petersburg in Russia earlier this year. Spotted in a shop window was this Jeremy Corbyn lookalike. I suspect the UK Labour Party leader would not be seen dead in the garb of a Tower of London beefeater, though I believe some of his political opponents will say that that is exactly where he should be sent.

The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust is seeking an experienced part-time marketing professional to take forward their Communications and Campaign strategy.
The post is for three days per week. Salary £25,000 to £32,000 depending on experience. Bonus and pension contribution of up to 10%. Flexible hours and some work from home are possible. Full details are at

One of our advertisers, Wallace Bagpipes, have a smart new website (still shot above) which is worth checking out. Craig Munro, the company’s Production Director, writes: ‘We’re excited to announce that our new and refreshed website is now live! The updated site includes changes to navigation, with drop-down menus for both mobile and desktop versions. We’ve also improved the structure of our content, so you’ll get to where you want to be quicker. Please feel free to browse our new site and any feedback is welcomed.’

Margaret Bennett
Bumped into Margaret Bennett, mother of the sadly missed piper Martyn, the other day and she is still continuing her great work promoting traditional music and song. Margaret has a masterclass workshop tomorrow at Ochtertyre near Crieff featuring two star musicians, flute player and singer Cathal McConnell and singer Michelle Burke. Good luck with that Margaret and keep up the good work:

John Kelly has sent some additional pictures to go with his earlier feature on the All-Ireland Pipe Band Championships. The picture top shows the Dromara Pipe Band, All-Ireland Champions in 1949. Personnel were: L to R:  (front row)  Hugh Steele, Irvine Woods, J.M. Spence, S.J. Spence, James A. Campbell, Victor McManus, S. McManus (Pipe Major), M. Johnston, S. M. Woods, R. Nelson and H. Nelson.  (back row) J. Maguire, R.S. Dickson, W.W. Woods, S.J. McManus, J McAdam, H. Murray, J.B. McDowell, W.J. Barlow, A. Sherlock and S. McDowell.

John has also included this picture (above) of Joe McAdam and Samuel Woods who played with Dromara at the first ever All-Irelands in Dublin in 1946. Joe and Sam were pictured at the Craigavon Championships held in Lurgan Park last month still enjoying their pipe band music.

William Grant Foundation Funding For Piping – 2016 Report

The William Grant Foundation reduced sponsorship cash disbursed through the National Piping Centre in Glasgow from £145,000 in 2015 to £140,000 in 2016. Further cuts to this figure have been hinted at for this year as the Foundation, the charity wing of the whisky giant, re-aligns its contributions to deserving causes in Scotland, writes the Editor. 

William Grant & Sons’ generosity towards our art is legion. Their largesse is now administered on a professional basis by the William Grant Foundation (WGF), a non-profit association established by family shareholders in 2014. Its work is funded by the parent company who are committed to donating one per cent (1%) of pre-tax profits each year to charitable causes.

The Foundation is governed by a Management Committee representing shareholders in William Grant & Sons and their families. Decisions regarding grants and donations are delegated to four funding groups. Piping falls under ‘Scottish Culture and Heritage’.

The total value of ‘Scottish Culture and Heritage’ grants paid by the Foundation in 2016 was £369,933 down from £442,300 in 2015 but still a laudable amount and vital to Scotland’s arts/ heritage sector. The Foundation report confirms that in 2016 their biggest piping beneficiary was the National Piping Centre (NPC) which received a total of £175,000, £35,000 of it for the Piping Live festival. One other significant piping donation in 2016 came in form of a £10,000 grant to the Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust (SSPDT) for a teaching programme based at Girvan in South Ayrshire.

This is surely the way forward. We need more spent on piping and drumming education – and that would certainly fit with the WGF mission statement. So whilst the block grant to the Piping Centre has been cut, if we add the £10,000 given to the SSPDT to the overall figure, the Foundation’s assistance for piping has actually increased from £180,000 to £185,000. So well done to them for that and well done to them for starting to spread the cash independently rather than have it all channelled through one prism.