Piobaireachd Club – March 7, 2008

Another meeting come and gone with too few members showing up. A fine evening of cèol mor at the home of Mary and Bob McIlwaine where hospitality is, as ever, a joy to remember.

James Beaumont, once of Bo’ness, Scotland, led off the evening with The Stewart’s White Banner. This tune is of uncertain origin but deemed to be of the time of the Jacobite risings. But, which one? Some attribute the tune to the rebellions of 1717 and 1719. Others are convinced that the tune is linked to the rebellion of 1745/46. There is a story that each clan in turn would have the honour of carrying the banner when on the march. It may be that the tune was a standard in both eras. As to the banner, some say it was white, red and blue silk twice as big as an ordinary banner. More likely, however, that the banner was red silk with a white space in the middle, thus presenting the family colours. Prince Charles Edward Stewart’s banner was captured at Culloden and burned by the Hanovarians in Edinburgh along with the banners of 16 Jacobite families.

Andrew Lee stepped up to play Kinlochmoidart’s Lament #1.

He was followed by Alex Galloway with MacLeod’s Controversy, a tune that reflects the serious consequences that flowed from a raid by Chieftain Ruaridh Mor MacLeod on the undefended Macdonald hamlet of Carinish, North Uist in 1601.

Edward McIlwaine warmed up with the ground and variations of Lament for Patrick og MacCrimmon and then played that little jewel of a tune, Lament for Alisdair Dearg MacDonnell. Alasdair is thought to have been the first MacDonald of Glengarry to spell his name MacDonell. He was the son of Donald Gruamach (some might say “gloomy”, others, “dour”) for whom the piobaireachd Lament for Donald of Laggan. Alasdair preceded his father in death which is not surprising considering that his father lived for over 100 years. His sister Isabella, wife to Sir Roderick MacLeod Chieftain of Harris and Dunvegan, lived to 102 years of age. The tune was probably composed by Padruig Mor MacCrimmon.

Bob McIlwaine closed the meeting with Lament for Colin MacRae of Inverinate, a variation on the theme of the Lament for Duncan MacRae of Kintail. Colin, a descendant of Duncan of the Silver Cups, was born in 1776.