Piobaireachd Club – February 20, 2009


MEETING 20-02-09

By virtue of a miracle, it was a clear and starry evening when members trooped to the McIlwaine residence for an evening of cèol mòr, the ‘great music’. The hosts were as generous as ever with heaps of oatcakes and scones along with other goodies.

Edward McIlwaine led off with Lament for Red Hector of the Battles. The tune is a tribute to a noted warrior, Hector MacLean, Chieftain of the MacLeans of Duart who was killed at the Battle of Harlaw, 1411. He was buried on the sacred Isle of Iona.

Hal Senyk came forward to play a tune never heard before at the Club – a pleasant but short Nameless tune from the last page of Angus MacKay’s treasure-trove. Hal went on to play I Am Proud to Play A Pipe. The origin of this tune is unknown as the Masters of earlier days did not pass on any historical information. It may be from the 18th century. Some have referred to the tune as “Hey for the Pipes’, others as “The Earl of Cromartie’s Salute.” A dearth of information about a tune’s history is not uncommon in the piobaireachd repertoire.

Anny He followed with Catherine’s Lament, another tune of uncertain origin. Club member Colin MacRae makes a strong case for calling the tune “Fraser’s Salute” as it was taught to him by teachers whose line reached back to Glenelg and the Bruce family who learned their piobaireachd from the last of the great MacCrimmon family of pipers and composers – Donald Ruadh.

Brian Haddon demonstrated with The Field of Gold that persistence and dedication is rewarded by a great leap forward in the playing of piobaireachd.

Thomas Budd played Lament for the Old Sword in fine style.

Hal Senyk returned with Grain in Hides and Corn in Sacks. A tune that some suggest is a ‘harvest’ tune whereas others suggest that it has a connection to the time when Scots raided into England.

Bob McIwaine played ‘Lament for Mary MacLeod’ and did himself proud in the playing of this magnificent MacCrimmon tribute to the Skye poetess.

Edward McIlwaine returned to close the meeting with MacLeod’s Controversy, a tune attributed to Donald Mor MacCrimmon. It relates to a skirmish at Carinish, North Uist, in 1601 where Chieftain Ruaridh MacLeod and clansmen conducted a surprise raid on an undefended settlement of Macdonalds of Clanranald, tributary to Donald Gorm MacDonald of Sleat. It was but one of many tit-for-tat acts of warfare over a period of two centuries that had left the folk of both clans in utterly wretched condition. There is a close historic link with the incident that inspired another Donald Mor tune, Dispraise of MacLeod.