The birth of the piobaireachd club was Fall of 1990 so we were in fact starting into our 20th year. The first meeting of the fall was held at the home of Ron and Eileen Sutherland in the highlands of North Vancouver. The first piper of the night was Jack Lee; Jack won the Clasp at Inverness this year which is considered by most to be the highest piping honor. Jack started the evening with a few stories of his travels from the summer and his experiences in the competitions. Jack warmed his instrument up with a relatively short tune: Lament for the Bishop of Argyll. Jack then played Mrs. MacLeod of Talisker’s Salute – a rather lengthy tune said to have originated in the late 1700’s. The Mrs. in question may have either been the wife of Col. John MacLeod or the wife of John’s son Magnus. Colonel John MacLeod was the grandson of Sir Ruaridh of Talisker. The Talisker region on Skye is on the west side of the island and the name is synonymous with the whisky.
The next piper of the night, making his debut performance was Matt Dolan. Matt played the ground and first variation of MacFarlanes Gathering. He followed with I’m Proud to Play a Pipe. Little is known about this tune but some called it “Hey for the Pipes” and others referred to it as “The Earl of Cromartie’s Salute“. Hal Senyk followed with Lament for the Viscount of Dundee. This tune has been one of the most popular ones at the piobaireachd club over the years.
Thomas Budd was the next piper and he played The Desperate Battle. There are at least three stories associated with the Desperate Battle of the Birds. The first links this tune to an arranged battle between feuding clans in the reign of King Robert III. The King ordered the clans in question to resolve their disputes by each selecting 30 men to fight to the finish. The tune is said to reflect the clash of arms and the birds sweeping down to get their fill. If this is indeed the inspiration for the tune it would have been in a much simpler form as this battle (c1396) was well before the MacCrimmon era. The second story tells of a wife who called on her husband to destroy his collection of birds; he did not and eventually the birds turned on the wife and pecked her to death! The third story is of a lady from Ardvrek castle (Loch Assynt, Sutherland) who liked to party and keep the dancing going as long as possible. She ordered her servants to tie the beaks of the roosters so they could not announce the break of day. The servants returned with scars from their battle.
The sixth piper of the evening was Kyle Banta. Kyle played Sir James MacDonald of the Isles’ Lament. Edward McIlwaine closed the evening with two tunes. Lament for Alasdair Dearg MacDonell of Glengarry and Lament for the Departure of King James II. James, II of Britain and VII of Scotland, was forced into exile in 1688. James was the last of the Stuart Kings.
The next meeting will be held at Jack Lee’s home on December 3rd at 7:30.